There are many, many theories about what motivates people (see, for example, this overview of contemporary theories, or this shorter summary). But for most instructors, there are a few key aspects of motivation that are most relevant for reaching our students. Specifically, students are most motivated when they:

  • see the value in what they are being asked to do;
  • expect to be successful; and
  • feel supported in their endeavor.

Thus, instructors who want to motivate their students should focus on strategies to:

  • increase/communicate the value of what you are asking students to do;
  • clarify your expectations and provide guidance on how students can be successful;
  • give timely feedback and create a supportive environment for learning

The resources below provide additional information about motivation with many suggestions for specific strategies that address these three areas: