by Guest Blogger Donna Wilson
Do you believe students become smarter through learning or that
intelligence is determined at birth? How we as educators answer that
question ties into the subject of motivation as a force for learning.
me, the importance of motivation surfaced in the early 1980s while I
was working with a group of seventh-grade students who had been
classified as "gifted."
Some of these students were
highly motivated to achieve while others were less motivated and
underachieving. This latter group seemed to believe that because they
were "smart," they did not need to put forth much effort in school. In
contrast, their higher-achieving peers seemed to understand that they
needed to put forth effort in order to reach their potential and achieve
better results in school.
years, I've heard teachers tell stories about students who have overcome
odds to become high academic achievers. These are the students who have
put effort into their learning to become top performers. Teachers love
having these students in the classroom because their work hard.
classrooms, when students believe their are responsible for their own
success, they are likely to feel a sense of pride in their
accomplishments and confidence in their abilities. This fuels continued
effort to achieve. On the other hand, if they attribute their success to
someone else—i.e., "The teacher gave me an A"—they are less likely to
feel pride and confidence that it was their hard work that allowed them
to achieve academically.
The belief that intelligence
can be developed, just as musical talent or athletic ability can be
honed through dedication and hard work, is a crucial element to
motivation that will improve academic performance.