How to Improve Student Performance with Motivation

02 April, 2020
In this article, discover how to improve student performance with motivation.

A recent study that was conducted by five researchers from the University of Washington and Teachers College, Columbia University, aimed to explore how motivation can greatly improve student performance, especially in fields such as science and technology.

The study that we’ll be talking about today is entitled: “Even Einstein struggled: Effects of learning about great scientists’ struggles on high school students’ motivation to learn science.”

During their interviews, most high school students said that anyone who wanted to be a scientist had the ability to do so. In addition, for them, anyone with a dream or a new idea could devote themselves to science. However, the same students also responded that they weren’t qualified to pursue a career in science. They didn’t believe it was an area they could stand out in.

That was how the researchers noted that self-confidence and self-perception strongly impact motivation levels. Although the study we’re talking about specifically focused on science, the researchers concluded that the same theories can be applied to any subject at any educational level.

Motivation and perception

The study found that students who had heard stories of scientists who made it, without any more information, were less likely to feel that they also had the same necessary talent to have a successful career in science.

How to Improve Student Performance with Motivation

However, the students who had heard stories about scientists who struggled to achieve their goals (by overcoming social problems or academic challenges) were more likely to feel that they could also overcome such challenges and have a better academic performance.

The study on student performance and motivation

Researchers gave the control groups different study plans with stories about scientists who made remarkable contributions to science but framed them in different ways.

  • Stories about the struggle of famous scientists who wanted to achieve their goals. These students were more likely to perform better in the classroom. They were more motivated.
  • Stories of the achievements of scientists and nothing more. These students weren’t as likely to do well. The researchers identified a negative impact on their academic performance. This impact was associated with the success stories of scientists that didn’t include any information on their motivations and struggles.

Thus, the study shows that the design of the study plans and how they present information can have a significant impact. Consequently, this impact will influence students’ motivation and perception in the classroom.

Designing study plans to improve student performance with motivation

All education professionals, from elementary school teachers to university professors, face a challenge. They need to design study plans that are attractive and exciting for all students.

When it comes to designing study plans, teachers must take into account the academic goals they want to achieve, performance levels, and the socioeconomic factors that can affect students.

In addition, they should take motivational strategies into account to design study plans. The subject doesn’t matter; this will work for all subjects, from reading to science.

How to Improve Student Performance with Motivation

The study shows that student motivation is directly related to their self-confidence. Study plans that adapt to this fact will improve the overall experience of all the students.

Guidelines for designing study plans that are able to motivate

Firstly, the teacher must assess the students who will be in the classroom. They should take into account their age, levels of development, and achievement levels when it comes to designing study plans. In addition, students’ socio-economic background can be important when it comes to developing their capacity to feel confident in themselves.

Secondly, the teacher should consider all the content they’ll teach during the academic year. The specific topics and scope of the goals can be affected by students’ motivation levels. We must encourage students to believe in their abilities. If we can motivate them, we’ll achieve these goals in a simpler way.

In short, teachers can use the results of this study to design lesson plans in a more effective way. This way, they can improve student performance with motivation. All they have to do is present the material in a different way, straying from traditional methods.

  • Lin-Siegler, Xiaodong, Ahn, Janet N.,Chen, Jondou, Fang, Fu-Fen Anny, Luna-Lucero, Myra Even. (2016). Einstein struggled: Effects of learning about great scientists’ struggles on high school students’ motivation to learn science. Journal of Educational Psychology.