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1. Ask students to analyze what makes their classes more or less "motivating." Sass (1989) asks his classes to recall two recent class periods, one in which they were highly motivated and one in which their motivation was low. Each student makes a list of specific aspects of the two classes that influenced his or her level of motivation, and students then meet in small groups to reach consensus on characteristics that contribute to high and low motivation. In over twenty courses, Sass reports, the same eight characteristics emerge as major contributors to student motivation:

Instructor's enthusiasm
Relevance of the material
Organization of the course
Appropriate difficulty level of the material
Active involvement of students
Rapport between teacher and students
Use of appropriate, concrete, and understandable examples (Sass, E. J. "Motivation in the College Classroom: What Students Tell Us." Teaching of Psychology, 1989, 16(2), 86-88. )

2. Reward success. Both positive and negative comments influence motivation, but research consistently indicates that students are more affected by positive feedback and success. Praise builds students' self-confidence, competence, and self-esteem. Recognize sincere efforts even if the product is less than stellar. If a student's performance is weak, let the student know that you believe he or she can improve and succeed over time. (Cashin, W. E. "Motivating Students." Idea Paper, no. 1. Manhattan: Center for Faculty Evaluation and Development in Higher Education, Kansas State University, 1979. )

3. Help students set achievable goals for themselves. Failure to attain unrealistic goals can disappoint and frustrate students. Encourage students to focus on their continued improvement, not just on their grade on any one test or assignment. Help students evaluate their progress by encouraging them to critique their own work, analyze their strengths, and work on their weaknesses. For example, consider asking students to submit self-evaluation forms with one or two assignments. (Cashin, W. E. "Motivating Students." Idea Paper, no. 1. Manhattan: Center for Faculty Evaluation and Development in Higher Education, Kansas State University, 1979. )

More suggestions - http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/guidebk/te...

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"Back in the day" when I worked with individuals with disabilities, one of my colleagues taught me this bumper sticker truth: "Success precedes motivation." Now when I encounter someone - anyone - who seems a bit less than enthusiastic, I think of this and then ask the follow-up up question: "What supports/resources do they need to be successful?" Though grossly simplistic, this seems to be pretty consistent with points 1-3!
I find the simplest motivator is prompt feedback on work. My adult developmental ed students who have a goal are eager to see concrete evidence of how they're doing and where they need to improve. I have a brief reading quiz format that I worked up a few years ago in response to very difficult group of students in developmental writing. My intent was to make it simple, fast, and easy to score, and winnow the students who work at reading and comprehending the assignment from those who don't. It also provides clear direction to students who have never had to read academic text. I use the same format in all my classes, and the quiz feedback is in their hands next class period. Students are always motivated when their hard work translates into a grade, and frankly they are also encouraged when their hard work is distinguished from that of the slackers. If anyone wants the quiz format, let me know, but the basic principle of prompt and accurate feedback is motivating.
One of our fellows, Geroge Allen, of Portsmouth University looked at motivation as part of his research into enquiry based learning. Might be worth a look. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3IHJEhrnXI&feature=related


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