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Area of Focus Statement
The purpose of this study is to gather insights on the issue of students’ motivation and seek a deeper understanding of it, developing a motivation strategy to implement in practice. I want to find out what encourages students to learn and helps to keep them motivated while learning. The goal can be achieved through both the review of data and the observation of a participant.
First of all, the topic of the study is inspired by my son, who is 17-year-old adolescent and is a junior in high school. He has only a year left before he graduates, and that is the time when he needs to be motivated in order to make better grades. Even though we are already trying various techniques to raise his motivation, those do not bring significant results so far. That is what has led me to find out ways to motivate my 17-year-old son better. In addition to my personal interest in the study, it will also be useful for other parents, who have children of this age, as well as educators, who work with these children. The review of data I have made so far has only confirmed the need to conduct the research on this topic. Adolescents turn out to be very hard to motivate, which has been proven in many studies.
To start with, I currently work as a case manager for social services where I help people in need providing fuel and food assistance, Medicaid, etc. As soon as I get my master’s degree, I am going to start searching for a job as an elementary teacher. Presently, I do not work as an educator and have no classroom experience yet. Nevertheless, I have a 17-year-old son, who is a junior in high school, and whom I need to push and encourage to learn constantly. That is what makes me interested in the topic of the study and stimulates to find out more about motivation strategies.
Even though my son is a smart student, he is also a lazy one, which is why he usually lags behind the class and fails his exams. The biggest problem so far is that he does not seem to be motivated in his pre-calculus class. I think that the main reason for that is his primary interest in sports and a desire to join the military after graduation. Perhaps, he simply does not think that he will need high grades to achieve his goals in the future. That is why I need to motivate and encourage him, reminding about countless opportunities that the high school and college education bring.
In my attempts to improve the situation with pre-calculus class, I have contacted my son’s teacher several times. She seems confusing when it comes to asking her students to turn in their assignments. She also uses quizzes to help them to prepare for the exams. However, many students still do not cope with those, and my son does not either.
Problem: Prior Interventions
I regularly do something to motivate my son in his learning process. First of all, since positive relationships have a significant influence on motivation, I encourage and support him (Sullo, 2009). I show enthusiasm and interest in his problems because there is a direct connection between these factors and students’ motivation as well (Brown, Hughes, Keppell, Hard, & Smith, 2015; Wiesman, 2012).
I never refuse to help my son with any confusion or conflict he has since otherwise that can lower his self-esteem and hinder the process of learning even more (Wiesman, 2012, p. 104). Additionally, I teach him about real life scenarios and explain what he can do with the high school and college education. I try a lot of creative techniques: use videos, YouTube, visual charts, etc. Many of these work, and I see a positive tendency of change.
At the same time, we are currently trying a tutor, but it does work well enough. Even though my son seems to understand his pre-calculus work, he is still failing the exams. With this in mind, I begin to wonder if a tutor does not cope with his work or that is the problem of motivation.
For this study, I have decided to focus on only one participant, who is my son. As it has already been mentioned above, he is 17 years old, and he is currently studying in high school. My son is an athlete (baseball) and is in Air Force ROTC. He is interested in joining the military after high school unless he gets a full ROTC scholarship to college. He is an A/B honor roll student in honors classes.
As I can conclude, the participant is quite a lazy student. Nevertheless, he is very smart as well. Even though he does not always do what is expected of him and not always keeps up with the class because of his laziness and the lack of motivation, he usually can easily pick up on what he is learning. I have to push him to do his best in studying, but when he actually does, he gets good results. Considering how hard he is trying as an athlete and how much he can do when he is interested enough, it can be concluded that the primary problem with his learning process is that of motivation.
The first reason that justifies the participant I have chosen for the study is his age. As Brown, Hughes, Crowder, and Brown (2015) state in their article, “no other age level is of more enduring importance”, and I agree (p. 1). Since he is 17 years old, and he will graduate from high school soon, he needs motivation in his studies to complete the training with better grades, which is essential for the further education. That is the reason why many parents and educators will find the study interesting: it will help them to motivate their own children or students.
The second reason that justifies my choice of a participant is that it will make the observation and evaluation process considerably easier for me as a researcher. Since the participant is easy to reach, the process of primary data collection will be accelerated, and that, in its turn, will let me draw conclusions sooner. In addition, the costs of the research will be significantly reduced.
The future study aims to address two following research questions:
- Is there a positive correlation between the motivation of a student to learn and his success in the learning process?
- Which strategies to motivate students are the most efficient in practice?
- Do regular motivational exercises have a better effect on the students’ performance if compared with occasional ones?
Brown, K. B., Hughes, A. J., Crowder, I. G., & Brown, P. M. (2015). Hunting for Treasures Through Learning: Using Geocaching to Motivate Young Adolescent Learners. Gifted Child Today, 38(2), 95-102. Web.
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Brown, M., Hughes, H., Keppell, M., Hard, N., & Smith, L. (2015). Stories from Students in Their First Semester of Distance Learning. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 16(4), 1-17. Web.
Sullo, R. A. (2009). The Motivated Student: Unlocking the Enthusiasm for Learning. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. Web.
Wiesman, J. (2012). Student Motivation and the Alignment of Teacher Beliefs. The Clearing House, 85(3), 102–108. Web.