The Importance of Student Motivation and How to Achieve It

The Importance of Student Motivation and How to Achieve It

Student motivation can make the difference between student success and failure. It is something teachers of all levels should focus on to truly have an impact on their students’ lives.

A 2018 research showed that engaged students are 2.5 times more likely to say they get excellent grades and do well in school. However, it seems that student motivation and engagement during class are not easily attainable. About a fourth of students who have participated in the same study said they are not “not engaged” (29%) in the school process.

Schools worldwide will need to have a serious look into this matter. This low motivation in students means that, at some point, they face trouble at school. In the worst-case scenario, they will become school dropouts, thus being at risk of social exclusion.

Let’s see in more detail why student motivation is important in the learning process and some actionable tips to increase it.

What Is Student Motivation and Why We Need It

Learning is stimulated, guided, and sustained through motivation. It is an essential component of self-regulated learning—the combination of attitudes and mental processes that enable a person to direct their own learning.

Student motivation can be internally or externally oriented, and they are divided into the:

  1. Intrinsic motivation – is internally centred and driven by the natural gratification that comes from completing a task or achieving a skill.
  2. Extrinsic motivation – is externally driven and closely related to rewards and consequences.

Both forms of motivation are not mutually exclusive in students. Being motivated is a spectrum, and it is not a linear process. Also, in some cases, extrinsic motivation can become internalized based on context.

What is interesting is that students’ intrinsic motivation is really high in early childhood education but declines as school progresses. That happens because, early on, school is a lot about exploration and play that later shifts towards extrinsic rewards and punishments as it progresses. Additional research has found that learning programs focusing on intrinsic motivation rather than on external rewards and performance goals produce higher student motivation and engagement.

Educators Are Key to Increase Student Motivation

Both teachers and parents can increase the motivation of students to learn by fulfilling their psychological needs like competency, belongingness, and autonomy.

However, teachers are found to have more influence than parents in motivating learners. They have the knowledge and are experts in using various tools and methods to achieve that. Most importantly, they can explain why some topics are important for students and highlight the meaningfulness of what they are doing. Other factors affecting student motivation or their disengagement from the learning process are their peers.

4 Tips to Increase Student Motivation Classroom

1.    Establish Relationships With Students

Establishing positive relationships with students is the number priority an educator should have. Strong relationships between teachers and students seem to make instructional strategies more effective. Every teacher should strive to understand every student’s needs and interests to make learning relevant.

2.    Give Them Choices

All teachers have an idea of what they want or must teach their students and have a structured plan. But to keep students’ motivation high, teachers should ask their students what they want to learn or do during the school year to better understand their interests. Also, allowing them to choose their assignments could help them be more engaged and motivated.

3.    Make it Relevant

When giving them a choice is not an option, try to make it relevant to them. To keep student motivation and engagement high, they need to know the practical application of what they are learning in their own lives. That way, you will avoid questions such as “When are we going to use this?” which occur more often than not.

4.    Use Digital Technology Tools

There are plenty of digital technology tools that are designed for and applied to a classroom. These technologies make teaching a subject more effective, as it is done using media and captivates the students’ interest. An example of using such technology to increase student engagement and motivation is adding game mechanics to learning, which we call gamification. Game elements make learning fun and help attain whatever the purpose is.


Student motivation is really important for learning and seems to have better results in terms of academic achievement. Establishing relationships with students, giving them choices, making learning relevant to them, or using digital technology tools and methods like gamification can improve students’ motivation and in-class engagement.

If you are looking for information on gamification in education, get in contact with MAXIMUS.

We have developed a digital, flexible, and interactive motivation system to engage the learning process and facilitate participation that is free for you to use. You can find the MAXIMUS system design and setup by clicking here.