How to motivate students

What motivates students to learn? While the answer may differ between individuals, there are common threads that can be drawn upon.

Maslow famously suggested a ‘hierarchy of needs’ in order for humans to flourish. Once our ‘basic needs’ have been met, we are more able to develop self esteem and then the self actualisation that allows us to succeed. We are motivated first and foremost by instinct, then by needs such as hunger and finally by what is known as ‘optimal arousal’ – where we find the balance between stimulation and relaxation. It is this sweet spot between the two, known as the stretch zone, where the most effective learning takes place.

How do we find the stretch zone?

The stretch zone is the point where we are challenged and engaged, but not stressed. When work is too easy for students, they become bored; likewise, when work is too difficult, they can become disengaged. The stretch zone aims to motivate students by providing an achievable challenge for them. This will be different for every student and may take time to find the right balance. This is when one-to-one tuition proves to be hugely beneficial; tutors can take the time needed to get to know individual students, what content and level of work they need and how they learn best, far quicker than the one-to-thirty scenario of a typical school classroom.


What else aids motivation?

In order for students to be motivated, it helps if they feel meaningfully engaged with the work they’re being set. This may involve explaining why the work is important, setting ‘real life’ examples where possible or allowing students a say in what they’re studying. It’s important for students to feel empowered and included in their own education, for real motivation to follow. The Salamanca Word Statement says that: “inclusion and participation are essential… within the field of education, this is reflected in the development of strategies to bring about a genuine equalisation of opportunity.”

It is clear that students are more motivated when they feel included. Creating a curriculum where students can see themselves reflected, have role models and understand the relevance of what they are learning to their own lives is invaluable. Our team of tutors expertly tailor each student’s learning activities ensuring a bespoke curriculum in which the student becomes a self-motivated learner and, in doing so, starts to actually enjoy learning!

We work with students from reception age, through to adult learners. Please do pop your contact details in the form below if you would like to find out more about working with us.