Motivational Messages to Students


It is one thing to design for learner motivation in a classroom where teachers can respond to students' cues. It is a greater challenge to make self-directed learning environments responsive to the motivational requirements of learners. This chapter describes a process that provides guidelines and methods for incorporating motivational tactics into computer-based and distance learning environments.

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Strategies to Engage Students

One extensive review of the literature related to adolescent literacy (Meltzer, 2002; Meltzer & Hamann, 2004) generated three promising practices that teachers can use to motivate students, including English language learners, to read, discuss, and strengthen literacy skills across content areas:

  • making connections to students' lives, thereby connecting background knowledge and life experiences to the texts to be read and produced;
  • creating safe and responsive classrooms where students are acknowledged, have voice, and are given choices in learning tasks, reading assignments, and topics of inquiry that then strengthen their literacy skills; and
  • having students interact with text and with each other about text in ways that stimulate questioning, predicting, visualizing, summarizing, and clarifying, preferably in the process of completing authentic tasks (tasks with a personal purpose or for a larger audience than the teacher).

Adolescent motivation in general is highly variable and is often dependent upon purpose and context, including relationships with peers, parents, teachers, and others. Therefore, a variety of motivational entry points need to be present to spur student engagement with literacy. Content-area classrooms that implement these three practices tend to be well stocked with books, magazines, technology resources, and a variety of other types of texts and materials. The next sections describe what each of these practices looks like in the classroom.

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