The reason is nothing more than an internal state that activates, directs and maintains behavior . It is the result of the combination of trait and status : you can study both because you appreciate learning and because you are preparing for a test.

A classic distinction within this topic is between demotivation, intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. The  motivation  is the complete lack of any intention to act ; the  intrinsic motivation  is the natural human tendency to search, find and overcome challenges when you pursue personal interests and practice their skills and it is the activity that is rewarding in itself ; extrinsic motivation when doing something to get a reward, such as satisfying the teacher, the parent, or things not related to the task .

The activities of an individual are placed on a  continuum   that goes from “completely self-determined activity” (intrinsic motivation) to “activity completely determined by others” (extrinsic motivation); 2. Intrinsic and extrinsic tendencies are two independent possibilities, and at any moment one can be motivated by certain aspects of each.

Motivation is the attitude with which one places oneself towards school commitment and is “distributed” in the context in which the student lives and studies. Motivation problems arise: at school when the difficulties of the subjects increase and the teachers’ evaluation records the difficulties and makes them public and the pupil is not helped to overcome the difficulties; in the family from which the student learns the value of studying, the first convictions on the meaning of going to school and the first indications about himself and his abilities; from peers who share beliefs about teachers and subjects; by the teacher with his or her ability to offer interesting or routine learning experiences, to encourage or discourage students, to help them be autonomous or not.

“Discursive” perspective of motivation

Motivation as a discourse that arises and develops in the verbal interactions between the student and the people who matter to him / her and from which the student learns to value certain activities and devalue others. Motivation is an attitude that is built and language is a fundamental vehicle.

Building motivation in the classroom

Motivation is a way of putting the student towards school commitment, in which aspects of the self and of the educational context act. Building does not mean creating from nothing but acting on several fronts: on the activities, on the classroom climate, on the way in which the student lives his condition. Building motivation is about helping the learner find meaning in learning and in himself as a learner. The teacher is not the first and the only person responsible for the motivation of the students, nor can he take charge himself. The motivational problems of students are only partially manageable by teachers, having their origin and development in a context inside and outside the school.

It is important to propose to teachers a reflection on the areas in which they usually intervene with students and which concern:

  • learning, as a “meaningful” activity;
  • the class, as an interactive and working context;
  • the student and his role.

“Meaningful” learning experiences represent the basic tools for building motivation: building motivation means building learning. The activity that the student perceives as useful is significant; which helps to investigate issues and problems that interest the student; which he manages to bring back to his own experience, to use as a tool to understand other things and see connections with other knowledge.

So making a topic meaningful means helping the student to trace the topic back to the systems of meaning, language, beliefs, experiences and knowledge available to them.

Challenging tasks stimulate the student’s willingness to tackle a test of difficulty above his level of competence as they summarize many aspects that can attract the student or the attractiveness of the problem, the possibility of succeeding, the satisfaction that comes from the result and that invites other challenges, or even just to want to understand.

Building motivation at the classroom level, i.e. establishing shared rules and cultivating students’ autonomy not only in terms of freedom of expression but also in terms of work initiatives, means sharing the responsibility of learning with the teachers on the part of the teacher. students (involve them in the planning, preparation and evaluation of class work and before that in the search for why to learn). Teaching means helping students to build an image of the discipline and the type of approach and study it requires.

The question: “what’s the use?” It should be considered positively .. The teacher could consider that question as a challenge: he could take the opportunity to set up a class work through which students can realize the usefulness of the subject. It is advisable that the student is made aware of what he will have to learn and in which and how many work phases the learning of a subject is articulated in the course of a year.

Motivation is also built by giving students the sense of belonging to a community of “practices” that is activities aimed at a goal to which everyone contributes and thanks to which they feel they belong to the school, share the responsibility of learning, exchange ideas and projects .

Helping the student to assume their role as a student, with the awareness of what studying involves both as an increase in knowledge and skills but also in self-awareness. This requires an assumption of responsibility on the part of the student with respect to objectives and commitments, which he assumes in the context of the class and in the relationship with the teachers who share with him a part of responsibility. The student should be helped to become aware of his choices.

The school’s task is to help students find their own way: with guidance practices, with the persuasion towards students that, precisely through learning, they can explore possible selves and have the opportunity to reflect on themselves and about what they would like and could become.

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