Professional Learning: Motivation and Student Success

As I read about motivation, there are several things that have stayed with me and that will influence how I work with my students this year.

*After basic needs, autonomy, purpose and mastery motivate.

*People want some control over what we do, real world tasks, and the chance to improve.

*Using extrinsic motivators, grades, stickers, candy, can actually inhibit student success.

*Praising intelligence leads to students who are less likely to take risks in their work thus inhibiting their learning and success.

*Instead, teachers should praise hard work and perseverance.

* According to Dweck, students who were praised for their hard work and perseverance wanted to show that they could continue to work hard and persevere. This had a long-term positive effect on their learning and on their lives.

*Teachers should provide positive AND negative feedback on student writing.

*The chart below shows how we can change how we work with student.


You say . . . You could say . . . Why?
Good job! I can really see your effort in revision. Praising effort and process encourages writers to keep trying. (Dweck)
You’re a good writer. Those drafts paid off in sentence variety and imagery. Encouraging growth instead of fixed mindset makes for happier people in charge of their progress. (Dweck)
You don’t know how to use semi-colons. You haven’t mastered semi-colons yet. The power of yetsuggests growth and mastery. (Dweck and Pink)
Please revise. Improved topic sentences and transitions between paragraphs would improve your paper’s structure and readability. Specific reader-focused feedback might seem nitpicky, but helps writers feel purpose of revision.
Write a persuasive essay. Persuade your principal/Congressman/parents to do a specific action. Writers need a real purpose and real audience to write their best work. (Pink)
Read Heart of Darkness. Discuss the importance of the Congo River to this narrative. Choose a work from the list of college-bound reading. How does geography inform the symbolic meaning of the work? People prefer autonomy and choice. (Pink)



Carol Dweck: Growth Mindsets and Motivation short video

Intelligence Praise Can Undermine Motivation and Performance journal article

Nurturing Intrinsic Motivation and Growth Mindset in Writing blog post from Edutopia


One thought on “Professional Learning: Motivation and Student Success

  1. Great thoughts! We have to do more than tell our students they are wrong, but show them the path to success. We have to consistently praise students for their hard work no matter the academic level.


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