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10 Ways to Motivate Demotivated Students

Karl Montgomery
January 24, 2023

Motivating demotivated students can be a challenging task for teachers, parents, and even the students themselves. Finding ways to help these students get back on track and become motivated to learn again can be difficult. In this blog post, we will provide you with 10 effective strategies to help motivate demotivated students and get them excited about learning again. With these strategies, you can help re-engage students in their studies and empower them to reach their full potential.

1) Create a positive learning environment

Creating a positive learning environment for demotivated students can be a powerful tool in helping them to improve their performance. In many cases, poor exam or mock exam results may have contributed to demotivation and low self-esteem, so it is important to create an atmosphere where students feel safe and supported. This can include providing revision tips and study strategies, offering support and encouragement, or setting up study groups.

Encourage students to ask questions, get involved in discussions, or give feedback. Creating a collaborative atmosphere can help students feel supported and motivated to reach their goals. Celebrate successes by acknowledging any improvements, no matter how small. Showing appreciation for hard work and effort will help build the confidence of demotivated students.

2) Set clear and achievable goals

One of the most important aspects of motivating demotivated students is to ensure that they have clear and achievable goals in place. Unexpected below par exam results can be incredibly demotivating for students but setting and reaching their own goals can help to boost their morale and overcome any disappointment. It’s also important to break down big goals into smaller, more manageable milestones. This can help make success more attainable and give the student a sense of progress.

3) Encourage effort rather than praise intelligence

It is important to be mindful when praising students and focus more on effort rather than intelligence. Praising a student’s intelligence can lead to poor exam results, as they may believe that they don’t need to work hard in order to achieve success. Encouraging effort can help students understand that they need to put in the work in order to achieve their goals and be successful.

4) Help students see the relevance of what they're learning

Many students struggle to find the relevance of their studies. To help students recognize the value of their learning, it’s important to show them how the topics they are studying can be applied in their everyday lives. For example, when teaching algebra or geometry, you could explain how engineers use these topics in designing bridges and buildings. Or if you’re teaching English literature, you could ask students to imagine how characters in stories could be applied to their own lives.

When students start to understand the relevance of what they’re learning, it can become much more interesting and engaging for them. This will also help them to better remember the material when it comes time to do revision for exams. When students have a better understanding of why something is important, they are more likely to take the time to revise and put in effort – leading to exam success.

5) Encourage autonomy and allow for choice

Giving students autonomy and allowing them to make their own choices within the classroom can be a great way to boost motivation. When students are able to choose how they want to learn, they can become more engaged in the subject matter and see it as more important. This can help them take ownership of their learning, leading to better performance and higher self-confidence. Having control over their learning process can also help students feel more empowered. 

6) Offer opportunities for social interaction

Social interaction can be a powerful tool for motivating demotivated students. Providing an opportunity for social interaction can help build relationships and increase engagement. For example, allowing students to work in groups or pairs can create an environment of mutual support giving them someone else to communicate with about any potential issues they may be experiencing. Even something as simple as allowing time for conversation in class can help to create a positive learning environment that can improve the overall motivation of students.

One way to provide opportunities for social interaction is to have regular study sessions where students can ask each other revision tips or discuss past exam questions and how to structure their answers. This can help to foster a sense of community and collaboration which can lead to increased motivation and improved confidence. Additionally, having a ‘buddy’ system in place where students are encouraged to check in with each other and provide support can be a great way to reduce the fear of poor exam results and create a more positive attitude towards learning.

7) Increase opportunities for movement

Physical activity and exercise can have a positive effect on learning and student motivation, especially when it is included in the classroom. Research suggests that movement can be beneficial for students, especially those who may be feeling demotivated. Even something as simple as standing up to answer a question or having a walking break between lessons can help students stay focused and energised.

In addition to providing movement opportunities, you should also provide revision tips that involve physical activity. For example, students could do revision drills where they physically move around the classroom or incorporate physical activities into memory games. By linking physical activity with learning, students can make connections that could potentially lead to improved cognitive activity. 

8) Use technology judiciously

Technology has the potential to be incredibly useful in the classroom, but it's important to use it wisely. If overused, it can become a distraction. For example, allowing students to access revision tips and past exam questions on their phones or laptops could be beneficial, but allowing them to use their phones for messaging during lessons could lead to unwanted distractions.

When using technology, ensure that it has a purpose, and helps to improve learning. Technology can also be used for activities such as self-assessment quizzes, interactive videos, and even gamified learning activities.

9) Model a Growth Mindset

It is important to demonstrate to students that a growth mindset can be applied to their educational experience. Modelling a growth mindset means striving to recognise and celebrate effort rather than focusing on outcomes, such as exam results. This helps students learn that they can develop their skills and knowledge even when faced with challenges. It is important to encourage students to learn from mistakes and failures, rather than be discouraged by them. Praise them for persisting when they are struggling and deliver strategies that can help them succeed.

Teachers can help students understand that intelligence is something that can be developed, rather than something fixed or predetermined. This can help create an atmosphere of resilience and confidence which will benefit them throughout their educational journey.

10) Check In Regularly

Checking in with your students regularly is an important part of helping them stay motivated. It’s important to check in and see how they are doing, and to discuss how they are finding their studies. This helps to build trust and rapport between the teacher and student. It’s also an opportunity to discuss any difficulties that the student may be having.

If you are noticing that a student’s grades or performance in exams is slipping, it’s important to address this before it becomes a serious problem. The check-in can provide an opportunity to come up with strategies for improvement, such as developing improved revision strategies. Regular check-ins can also help to provide positive reinforcement and encouragement, as well as giving feedback on progress so far. Having regular contact with the student means that you can stay abreast of their progress and intervene if there are any problems. This is especially important for students who may feel isolated or unsupported in their learning or even in their home environment.

Motivating demotivated students can be challenging, but it is not impossible. By providing a positive learning environment, setting clear and achievable goals, encouraging effort rather than intelligence, helping students see the relevance of what they’re learning, and more, you can help to rekindle their enthusiasm for learning. Ultimately, these strategies can help to improve their academic performance and lead to better exam results. Remember, you may not be able to motivate everyone, but never give up.

If you ever feel like you need extra support from a company who thrive off motivating and supporting students, whilst helping Teachers to deliver a fantastic learning experience, then please get in touch and we would be glad to discuss how we can help support you, your students, and your school.