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Student Motivation: An Overlooked Piece of School Reform

Author(s): Alexandra Usher and Nancy Kober
Published: May 22, 2012

This series of papers examines topics related to students’ academic motivation, a critical but often overlooked aspect of education. The summary paper, Student Motivation: An Overlooked Piece of School Reform, pulls together research findings from the six background papers, each of which includes a brief overview of research findings, examples of current programs and policies, and implications for the future, offering a more in-depth look at specific themes surrounding student engagement, including: why motivation is important and how it might be defined and measured; whether rewarding students can result in higher motivation; whether students can be motivated by goal-setting; the role of parental involvement, family background, and culture; strategies schools might use to motivate students; and nontraditional approaches to motivating otherwise unenthusiastic students. The appendix outlines four major dimensions of motivation and how they are defined by major scholars in the field.

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Summary Paper - Student Motivation: An Overlooked Piece of School Reform (PDF format, 598 KB)

Background paper 1 – What is motivation and why does it matter? (PDF format, 155 KB)

Background paper 2 – Can money or other rewards motivate students? (PDF format, 188 KB)

Background paper 3 – Can goals motivate students? (PDF format, 247 KB)

Background paper 4 – What roles do parent involvement, family background, and culture play in studen (PDF format, 172 KB)

Background paper 5 - What can schools do to motivate students? (PDF format, 237 KB)

Background paper 6 – What nontraditional approaches can motivate unenthusiastic students? (PDF format, 244 KB)

Appendix – Theories of motivation (PDF format, 69.4 KB)

Press Release (PDF format, 41.3 KB)