The Center on Education Policy in the US offers a series of papers that examines topics related to students’ academic motivation. The summary paper, Student Motivation: An Overlooked Piece of School Reform, pulls together findings from a wide array of studies by scholars in a range of disciplines, as well as lessons from programs intended to increase motivation. Topics include: why motivation is important and how it might be defined and measured; whether rewarding students can result in higher motivation; whether students can be motivated by goal-setting; the role of parental involvement, family background, and culture; strategies schools might use to motivate students; and non-traditional approaches to motivating otherwise unenthusiastic students. A few of many suggestions that the authors offer for schools to consider are:
- Programs that reward academic accomplishments are most effective when they reward students for mastering certain skills or increasing their understanding rather than rewarding them for reaching a performance target or outperforming others.
- Tests are more motivating when students have an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge through low-stakes tests, performance tasks, or frequent assessments that gradually increase in difficulty before they take a high-stakes test.