Brain Upgrade

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Effective learning begins with motivation

"WHAT'S THE POINT? This doesn't make sense anyway!" These are just a few statements that young students make in class. Lack of motivation is a key factor in ineffective learning. Once a learner is motivated, their will to learn increases. A valuable model teachers can use is John W. Keller's ARCS Model of Motivational Design. This model involves four concepts in getting the children motivated to learn:

A teacher must first gain a student's attention in order for the student to listen and learn. This can be accomplished by first posing questions to the student and/or incorporating a range of methods and media to meet student's varying needs.

After gaining their attention, the instructor would then need to retain the student's attention. The relevance factor involves relating the information to the student's previous experiences. This allows the student to make a connection and thus their attention is retained and enhanced.

When students begin to believe in their learning and work, they become motivated to learn more. Their high confidence level equals high value. Therefore, the teacher has solved the answer to the question "What's the point?"

Satisfaction, the final step in the ARCS Model, involves intrinsic reinforcement: encourage and support fundamental enjoyment of the learning experience. An instructor can provide opportunities to use the newly acquired knowledge or skill in a real or simulated setting. For younger students, this can be accomplished in a game, and a reward could be given to the student who performs the best.

Students are seen playing "Toss a Question and Catch an Answer." The student asks a question and tosses the ball to another student who in return has to answer the question. If the student misses the answer, they leave the circle. The last student standing wins the prize. This game uses the strategies of recalling information, exuberating satisfaction, and maintaining a high level of motivation.

There are a variety of strategies a teacher can use when trying to motivate the student to learn. However, when the student is not motivated, the teacher must work to first gain the learner's attention, make sure the instruction is relevant, ensure that the student has a level of confidence, and then evaluate that student's gained knowledge to make sure there is some satisfaction in what they have learned. If used effectively, these four concepts can provide positive results for effective learning.

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Donah Shine

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