Teachers and parents know, motivation matters. Experts claim it is central to student learning. It helps determine how engaged students are in their classroom materials, how hard they work and how well they persevere in the face of challenges, according to a new study titled Motivation Matters: How New Research Can Help Teachers Boost Student Engagement published by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. This research isn’t necessarily new, but it’s fair to say teachers are becoming increasingly challenged to find motivational strategies that work on top of the ever-evolving demands of curriculum standards they are required to meet. Backed by research, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching suggests teachers can employ three motivational strategies to enhance students’ engagement: encouraging positive behaviors by offering rewards and emphasizing the value of students’ work, improving their academic mindsets and enhancing their sense of connectedness with their teachers and peers. But how can teachers incorporate these tactics into their daily routine? Analogies.
Grades, academic clubs and gold stars have long been the common incentives for teachers. But what if those aren’t enough to motivate every type of student? Rewards that are unexpected, demonstrate prize mastery of skills or encourage identifiable behaviors rather than outcomes, are the best ways to reward students and boost engagement (Motivation Matters: How New Research Can Help Teachers Boost Student Engagement, 2015). When students practice analogies, they apply words to real life concepts, making it easier to understand the value in their work. By practicing analogies in a competitive setting, teachers can offer rewards to students that demonstrate their mastery of the subject, thus boosting engagement and their perception of the reward.
Studies show that academic mindsets are becoming extremely important to student success (Motivation Matters: How New Research Can Help Teachers Boost Student Engagement, 2015). This can include a student’s sense of belonging in their school, their perceptions of how or whether kids “similar to” them succeed academically and the extent to which they believe that hard work and persistence pay off. Fortunately, teachers have an unleashed power to positively influence students’ mindsets. Analogies are an effective way to impact a student. First and foremost, students have the ability to demonstrate that hard work and persistence pays off. The more they practice and the more their vocabulary expands, the easier the analogies become. It’s also heavily proven that people of all ages rely on analogies to comprehend change and find similarities in the unfamiliar. By teaching students how to apply analogies to unfamiliar changes in life, they can more closely identify with their school and peers when challenges occur.
Students feel more connected with their teachers and classmates when they believe that others care for them. Engaging in an analogy competition amongst the classroom or school can encourage students to work towards a goal, assess their progress with a teacher’s instructional feedback and feel supported when they do well. Practicing analogies is something everyone can do. Making a game or competition out of it is an even better way to let students engage with their peers, boost motivation with a friendly competition and spotlight the well-deserved achievers in a classroom or school district.
When it comes to motivating students, teachers can employ these strategies simply by incorporating analogies into their lesson plans. WordMasters Challenge™ is a vocabulary-based competition that focuses on completing analogies and is a viable solution for teachers who are looking to challenge, grow and engage their students.
Lisa Lombardi is the President of WordMasters Challenge™. For more information, please visit the website at http://www.wordmasterschallenge.com.
Headden, S., & McKay, S. (2015). Motivation Matters: How New Research Can Help Teachers Boost Student Engagement. doi:https://www.carnegiefoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Motivation_Matters_July_2015.pdf