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Posted by Stokes Schwartz over 1 year ago


20+ years ago when I began teaching as a graduate assistant, I was was spoiled when it came to student motivation and engagement.

At UW-Madison, I taught several freshman writing and discussion sections that were part of two huge undergraduate Scandinavian literature courses (several hundred students each) with a newly instituted writing component. Many, though not all, of the students were what we call, in second language pedagogy, heritage learners from primarily Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish backgrounds along with a few whose ancestors came from Iceland or Finland, which meant that their motivation and performance was reasonably good to high. In short, most were interested, engaged, and did the work to a reasonable standard.

The same was true a few years later at The University of Minnesota. where I was responsible for planning, developing, and teaching numerous sections of Beginning Norwegian 1001 and 1002 five days a week. Again, mostly heritage learners, so my job was easier than it might otherwise have been.

Here at MSU, I teach numerous IAH courses, once F2F, now asynchronous online. A few seem excited and engage well, but many, or even most, do not. It is a hoop they need to jump through, and many choose a particular course based not on their interest but on how well it fits their schedule.

Given that particular mindset, student motivation and engagement can be thin on the ground sometimes! So, these are two related points, along with how they relate to student success, that I come back to again and again in my reading and related thought behind what I do and how I do it.

Today, I came across a concise webpage on 'The Role of Motivation in Learning' from The Education Hub in New Zealand. Here is the link for people who might like to take a look:
https://theeducationhub.org.nz/motivation/