Strategies for Helping with Student Motivation

The end (of this semester) is in sight. Students are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. They might also be experiencing online learning burnout, trying to figure out how they’ll study for exams with a 10-year-old sister butting into their room every 20 minutes, and dealing with the emotional pain of losing a summer job or study abroad opportunity. 

Thankfully, during our conversations about how we keep ourselves motivated, last week’s IDEA Hub attendees also discussed ways to help motivate our students. 

  • Help give students a sense of control. Offer multiple ways to demonstrate mastery of content – written, bullet points, video, etc. 
  • Watch out for students regressing to old behaviors, living at home with parents can do this in a matter of minutes (who doesn’t want mom to cook, clean and comfort them – especially during a pandemic). Point it out when you notice ‘helplessness’ and praise examples of students making it through this tough time!
  • Try competency-based grading (for an assignment or two, or your whole course)
  • Help students break down assignments into shorter ‘chunks’ – this is one tip that I can’t stress enough! So many students struggle to figure out how long an assignment will take, and they aren’t always great at judging how to break larger assignments down into pieces. It’s human instinct to turn away from overwhelming tasks, ensure that your assignments come with a roadmap through the ‘overwhelmingness.’
  • Give social incentives to show up and create community – have #crazy hat day Tuesdays, add quick team-based competitions, or host a live Kahoot session to help prep for exams. 
  • Pass out some praise! As my friend and colleague says “throw that praise like confetti!” Shout out to those of you who shared that you’re seeing students who are normally shy in class finally speaking up, noticing students who are helping each other (and sometimes their profs.), and their amazing ability to adapt to online learning even though this isn’t what any of us signed up for!
  • Encourage students to find a healthy life balance – remember that list of tips for ourselves? Remember yourself at age 20? I know I certainly would have needed a little extra help staying on track at that point in my life. Share your own experiences with staying motivated and give students an opportunity to share what’s working for them. 

For more tips and tricks to help with motivation, student mental health and wellness, check out the Counseling Services blog: