Over the last 3 decades management consulting has been the primary career phase for many business graduates. But while they may be familiar with top firms’ impressive names, only few comprehend what the job is all about. A management consultant takes a unique skill set that balances communication and analytical skills by analyzing data and pulling together a story, and ultimately recommendations, for the client. To achieve an assigned project will involve interviewing instructors or target audience (students), presenting information to a group of university executives, and convincing the key players that your recommendations are sound.
As a management consultant role in a university were engagement and productivity is spectacular. My objective is to identify and enhance the motivational factors of students and help improve student motivation and learning engagement for successful degree completion. As a consultant, I believe that motivation is one of the important factors to improve learning. Several multi-disciplinary theories have attempted to define and explain motivation. While these theories may seem valid to some extent, non can sufficiently explain all human motivation because all human beings (students), have complex needs and desires.
Students are dynamic but not purely physical, economic, political, or psychological beings, hence, only little learning can occur with students without steady motivation.
According to Merriam-Webster (1997), motivation is the process of motivating; the condition of being motivating; a motivating force, stimulus, or influence; incentive; drive; something (such as a need or desire) that causes a person or student to act and the expenditure of effort to accomplish results.
In order to meet my client’s quest there are five basic motivational strategies to improve student motivation. These motivation factors will include student, teacher, content, method, and environment in a university environment. Student motivation is an essential element that is necessary for quality education. And it is key to the best way to motivate students and how do we know that students are actually motivated. Instructors must be focused, trained to monitor the educational process, be dedicated and responsive to their students, and be inspirational so as to increase student motivation. To achieve student motivation, we consider;
According to a popular quote by Robert Schuller, “you cannot push anyone up the ladder unless he is willing to climb himself.” The student’s role in education is vital and should go beyond the traditional view of students as receiver of knowledge. Students motivation can be intrinsic or extrinsic or both. The intrinsic factor includes participation (the desire to be involved), curiosity (about showing interests), challenge (figuring out a complex topic), and social interaction (creating social bonds). While extrinsic factor can include compliance (to meet another’s expectation as instructed); recognition (to be publicly acknowledged); competition; and work avoidance (avoid more work than necessary). Individuals who are motivated intrinsically tend to develop a high regard for learning course information without the use of external rewards. On the other hand, individuals who are motivated extrinsically rely solely on rewards and desirable results for their motivation, e.g., tests and GPA. Students who are motivated externally are at a greater risk of performing lower academically than intrinsically motivated students (Lei, 2010). Besides this there other personal and social factors which may affect our choices due to extrinsic motivation includes peer group, environment, and the hierarchy of needs. Assuming a student is hungry, it is hard to focus on learning and the same is obtainable if the environment is physically, mentally, or emotionally unsafe. More so, making students feel unaccepted due to a teacher’s actions may lead to Low self-esteem and ego, hence, the need for a good relationship. Students should be taught how to produce results while maintaining focus and energy as well to have a purposeful connection with school work. While the quantity of time spent studying has an influence on performance, this influence is moderated by the students’ study habits. The presence of lecture attendance is a good extrinsic factor that can boost student motivation towards learning. While making personal reading efforts is a good intrinsic factor.
According to Montalvo (1998), students show more motivation from instructors they like over the ones they don’t. This is beyond personality contest when it has to with education. So, it is expected that the role of educators will be shifted from knowledge givers to managers of learning, development and the university environment to motivate students. In addition, training should be given to educators to expand their role and improve peer interaction. The Instructors’ knowledge on the subject is vital in boosting students’ motivational level. According to Weinstein (2010), the instructor’s knowledge of the subject matter, the instructor’s sense of humor, instructor quality of teaching, intellectual challenge, engagement in class, and academic assistance outside of the class all add up to the motivation. Considering the intrinsic and extrinsic component of motivation, the extrinsic factor will be based on the Instructors status or actions such as teacher qualification, teaching skills, delivering tests and human relations. According to Darling-Hammond (1998), if all things being equal, it is expected that students perform better if they are educated in smaller class sizes and schools where they are well known, if they receive a challenging curriculum, and have instructors with expertise and experience. Another way to motivate is for educators to consider how best to approach students especially from the position of scientific management or human relations. A suitable approach that will lead to motivation will involve using inventive teaching techniques, make learning interesting and entertaining, giving a true sense of care to the students, being approachable, going beyond the limits of the academic setting, involving contemporary topics, promoting practical work experience, actively listening to your students and being clear in approval and disapproval. (Olson, 1997). As an Instructor, student engagement is key to academic motivation and successful degree completion. Finally, instructors are continuously competing for the students’ attention with their jobs, family, social media, internet, video games, etc. Reaching out to students will help in finding a connection between how students learn and how instructors teach (McGlynn, 2008). I believe that when the teacher is more enthusiastic about a topic, then the students will be more inclined to believe that the topic has value for them i.e. teacher’s enthusiasm can motivate students. The teacher also has to balance enthusiasm appropriately for the student (Palmer, 2007).
For students to be motivated the content of lessons also should be relevant and useful to the student. Olson (1997) notes that student motivation depends on the extent to which the teacher is able to satisfy the student’s need for feeling in control of their learning, feeling competent, and feeling connected to others. As such, content also must be included to satisfy each of student’s desire to experience success is a very important strategy for motivation. Success creates self-confidence which in turn makes students more inclined to engage in learning. In addition, content should make student creative and a critical thinker – this requires the student to define the task, set goals, establish criteria, research and gather information, activate prior knowledge, generate additional ideas and questions, organize, analyze,
and integrate all the information (Olson, 1997). More so, students feel some ownership of a decision if they agree to it. Whenever possible, students should be allowed to determine class rules and procedures, set learning goals, select learning activities and assignments, and decide
whether to work in groups or independently. Lastly, making the content timely, relevant to real life and having variety will help motivate students.
The method or process is simply the way in which content is presented, that is, the approach used for instruction. Two basic approaches for supporting and cultivating motivation in the classroom are (a) creating a classroom structure and institutional method that provides the environment for optimal motivation, engagement, and learning; and (b) helping the student to develop tools that will enable them to be self-regulated (Alderman, 1999). Generally, students can be motivated when instructors pally content and process with incentives, verbal conformity, casework, encouragement and praise, guided discussion, storytelling, positive social interaction, experiential learning or self-learning. Experiential learning is when an individual is actively involved with concrete experience, that is, a student cognitively, affectively, and behaviorally processes knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes such that knowledge is created through the transformation of experience.
The fifth element for student motivation will be the environment and this must be available and accessible. The environment must be of a quality that encourages the motivation of the students such as devoid of noise and disturbance, safe, cool, etc. For example, if an environment is not safe, it is difficult to put your attention on learning. In order, to make learning environment conducive to student motivation, use engaging classroom activities, in-depth discussions, use practical organizational problems rather than artificial examples, foster positive peer, social interaction and exchange, decreasing peer aggression, promoting self-participation, personalized learning, and self-ownership will provide a conducive environment for all stakeholder (Rumsey, 1998).
What is the best way to motivate students? The short answer is that all of these strategies can be used, as often as possible. However, no theory seems to be complete in and of itself. As such, maybe the best way to gain some new understandings about motivation is to hold all of these theories simultaneously in mind, much like a giant puzzle, and see where there is good understanding and where there are gaps for my client. These new ideas than could be translated into the classroom, using those specific items that are effective and useful in each instructor’s unique classroom situation. The curriculum is expected to be accurate, timely, stimulating, and relevant to the student’s current and future needs. The process must be inventive, inspiring, interesting, beneficial, and provide tools that are vital to real life. More so, the environment needs to be accessible, safe, positive, personalized as much as possible and empowering. Motivation is optimized when students are exposed to a large number of these motivating experiences on a regular basis. That is, students ideally should have many sources of motivation in their learning experience in each class. At the very least, it seems that motivation in the classroom is a function of five components: student, teacher, content, methods, and environment as recommended.