Motivation: The secret behind academic achievement


Almost everyone wants and expects their child to be a high achiever in school. However,  with fleeting attention spans, increasing daily distractions and the expectations placed on today’s children, parents are faced with the question of how to keep their child engaged, focused and motivated. Can our schools do more to motivate our children?  The answer is yes.

Motivation is a key driver of human behavior. Until recently, parents have believed that rote learning has been the “correct”, more traditional way of learning for their child. One of the main reasons behind this mindset is that parents themselves have been taught this way and, sadly but frankly, this is what many education systems value too. Thus the perception is that the key to getting a good exam result has always laid in the ability of a student to learn by memorization.

On the other hand, research has rendered this age-old perception completely wrong. If schools start teaching with the learner’s interests in mind, and if the subject matter has meaning and relevance to a child, a child will be motivated to learn intrinsically. According to research spanning over a decade, motivation is the key driver of academic achievement.

(Reference: https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2013-22762-001)

Some learners are encouraged with internal motivation – which helps them learn and imbibe content, knowledge, and information much quicker than others.  However, others need to be rewarded to learn – which usually happens when they aren’t enjoying what they do. The problem with extrinsic motivation is that it does not last because once the extrinsic motivator is taken away, the child regresses to past behaviors.

(Reference: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1466-y )

Research has conclusively established that motivation is the main driver of academic achievement. The next question is: what can schools do to motivate their learners?

Tapping into a child’s talents, strengths and interests, and correctly assessing their learning style can help both parents and educators engage the child in becoming the architect of her own learning.

Learning techniques, such as Problem Based Learning (PBL) and inquiry-based learning, when aligned with activities that have interest and meaning to the child, boost motivation levels like no other techniques.

At Vega Schools, in order to tap into motivation, we deploy the I-lead cycle (this is very similar to how design thinking works) which results in learners with higher levels of engagement, ownership for their learning and intrinsic motivation. The research is consistent and compelling, not only about how children learn but also the skills needed to thrive in a rapidly changing, interconnected world. Unfortunately, and far too often, our educational systems have failed to keep pace with the changing demands for careers of today and beyond. In any industry, there are always disruptors, those who challenge the status quo and use research and changing societal demographics to forge new paths.

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