Concrete strategies to promote intrinsic motivation and student agency
Three psychological needs which teachers must address in order to foster student motivation and agency as they do the rigorous work expected of them in the classroom are autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Self-Determination Theory, widely considered to be a leading theory of human motivation, provides important insights into the ways teachers can foster intrinsic motivation and drive within their students. The role of teachers as facilitators of student-led learning becomes one of empowerment, curation, and community building by which teachers put into place technology, resources, and supports that promote independence and interdependence.
The following nine strategies for teaching and learning—three for each psychological need—are foundational ingredients of the “…natural processes of self-motivation and healthy psychological development,” necessary for intrinsic motivation and well-being among students. (Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L., 2000).
Teachers who leverage goal setting and reflection, choice in learning, and projects support student autonomy by creating learning environments wherein students are emboldened to lead and direct their learning. Teachers who engage in formative assessment, resource curation, and small-group targeted instruction support student competence by empowering them with the knowledge, tools, and skills they need to achieve their own goals and creatively solve problems. Teachers who trust students to participate in the creation of norms and expectations, lead classroom routines, and cooperatively contribute to the learning of their peers support student relatedness by building a community of engaged participants in the learning process.
The effort teachers put into supporting these three psychological needs will lead to a classroom culture of achievement and deep engagement where students are invested in learning on their own terms and motivated to attain the success they deserve.
(This post can also be found at the Moreland University blog by clicking here.)
Joseph A. Pearson, M.S.Ed.
As I work toward developing the perseverance and drive to achieve my goals, I am reading Grit by Angela Duckworth. My biggest learning so far has been the importance of identifying and defining my inner compass, "...the thing that takes you some time to build, tinnier with, and finally get right, and then that guides you on your long and winding road to where, ultimately, you want to be" (p. 60). I use this compass to set goals, plan my daily actions, and reflect.