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One of the most difficult challenges most teachers face is motivating students who are not intrinsically motivated to learn. How can we make students want to succeed academically? Should we exhort them? Punish them? Bribe them? Entertain them? Perhaps; there are proponents and critics for each of those strategies. The experts agree, however, that the most successful techniques teachers can use to motivate students include engaging their interest; demonstrating the relevance of what they're learning; displaying enthusiasm for what we're teaching; establishing challenging, but achievable expectations, and employing a variety of instructional strategies.

Learn More About About Motivating Students

Education World has published a number of articles on techniques for motivating students. They include the following:

How Can Teachers Develop Students' Motivation -- and Success?
What can teachers do to help students face academic challenges? Is self-esteem something teachers can give students? Those are some of the questions Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Columbia University, answers for Education World.

Student Disinterest: Is it Curable?
Educator Brenda Dyck reflects on some ways to tackle the sticky problem of student disinterest. Included: Practical ideas from middle-level teachers, plus links to additional articles on the subject.

Adding Motivation to Mastery
The question underlying the topic of motivation in most students' minds is, "Why should I?" Dr. Fred Jones helps answer that question, and helps you can get work from otherwise unmotivated students.

Movies, Motivation, and Missing Assignments
First-year teacher Kimberly Johnson wonders whether it's better to set high standards and expect students to meet them -- even if it means lower grades -- or to set lower standards so students can see high grades on their report cards.

Failing Grades and Frisbee Golf: Motivating Kids to Learn
Teacher mentor Laurie Stenehjem discusses classroom motivation and management skills. "It is clear," Stenehjem says, "that we haven't yet figured out how to motivate people to learn ... if in fact, it is even possible to motivate someone else to want to learn."

Scholars Programs Inspire Students to Reach Higher
Ever have trouble convincing students that what they learn in school connects with the real world? Education World examines three programs dedicated to motivating high school students to complete challenging coursework.

What's the Best Way to Motivate Kids?
Chris Kline, a former classroom teacher, now is education coordinator at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior, Arizona. His comments on motivating students, taken from a 2003 posting on the Middle Web listserv, were reprised in an Education World Soapbox column.

Kids in Houston Earn Bucks for Reading Books
A Houston Earning By Learning program is hailed as a model of school-business partnership. But Earning By Learning programs are not without their critics. Such programs are the equivalent of bribing kids to fulfill basic expectations, some critics say.

Yearlong Themes Spur Learning and Fun
Educator Cindy Farnum shares her thoughts about using a yearlong theme to motivate students and create fun in the classroom. Included: A page of curriculum-wide plant connections.

Simulations Engage Students in Active Learning
Simulations engage students in ways that few other activities can. Educator Max Fischer, author of a book of simulation activities for social studies, shares his experiences, his process for creating simulations, and tips for using simulations in the classroom.