Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Motivation and Inquiry Activities

In student learning, motivation is a key element, and this is especially critical with inquiry activities. Without student motivation, engagement will not happen and deep inquiry will not take place. When motivated, students are eager to learn, fascinated by their discoveries and enjoy asking questions. Motivation is generally either intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is internal and comes because we are interested in the material and want to do a good job. Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, comes from external factors, such as good grades or praise on an assignment. When you begin creating your inquiry activity, try to engage both forms of motivation equally. As shown in table 1.1, so that each inquiry activity builds on providing both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, you want to ensure that the activity is meaningful, authentic, and challenging and at the same time aligns with your learning standards. In order to create activities that aid in motivating your students, you want to make sure that the activity is meaningful and worthwhile. In developing class activities, it is important to ask yourself the following:
Why is this important for my students to understand? How does this topic relate to their interests? How does this topic tie into their future?

One way to highlight the importance of an activity and motivate your students is to provide connections to their current interests and concerns. For example, in a history class, have your students investigate how elections impact their lives. Voting can and does make a difference. It is critical to create an activity that connects your students to the content being explored and engages them in the discipline.

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