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Motivate students to learn with these techniques

This is an excerpt from Survive and Thrive as a Physical Educator by Alisa James.

Using Instructional Techniques to Motivate Students

In addition to earning students' respect and developing positive relationships with students, you can also use specific instructional techniques that are effective in motivating students. According to Brophy and Kher (1986), four conditions need to be created in order to motivate students to learn, and teachers can create these conditions by doing the following:

  1. Present tasks that are developmentally appropriate.
  2. Present tasks that have meaning to students and contribute toward learning objectives.
  3. Present a variety of tasks to minimize boredom.
  4. Present tasks as learning opportunities, and provide students with assistance and encouragement to help them accomplish the tasks.

Present Tasks That Are Developmentally Appropriate Activities that are developmentally appropriate contribute to students' intrinsic motivation to participate. Developmentally appropriate tasks motivate students because the tasks are challenging and not too easy or too difficult. If a task is too simple or too difficult, it will likely reduce student motivation to continue participating.

Teaching by invitation and intratask variation are two ways to ensure developmental appropriateness and to motivate students who are at different skill levels. Teaching by invitation is when you invite the whole class to change the task in some way; however, some students may choose to not change the task (Graham, Holt/Hale, & Parker, 2010). For example, you may state the following: “At this time if you are comfortable throwing the ball at the target from your spot, I invite you to make it more difficult by moving back two giant steps. If you believe you need more practice from your current spot, you are welcome to stay at that spot.”

Intratask variation involves changing the task for an individual student or a small group of students (Graham, Holt/Hale, & Parker, 2010). This is useful when a task is appropriate for most students but a single student or a small group of students are either struggling with the task or finding it too easy. In this situation, to motivate students to stay on task and keep learning, you should have a conversation with the individual student or small group and change the task as needed for them while the other students continue to practice the original task.

Present Tasks That Have Meaning and Contribute Toward Learning Objectives Students should find learning tasks meaningful, and the tasks should meet students' personal interests. As a teacher, you need to find ways to present tasks that have meaning and importance to students. At the same time, you must ensure that students are working to accomplish learning objectives through these tasks.

One way to do this is to plan the physical education curriculum in a manner that offers students choices of activities. Many physical education teachers use an activity interest survey to determine students' interests and then plan their curricular offerings based on the results. The survey could also include questions about why the students participate in physical activity. For example, are students physically active because they want to enhance their physical fitness, because they want to be with their friends and have fun, or because they want to improve their appearance? Students have various reasons for choosing to participate in physical activity. It is your job to determine their reasons and needs for participation and to provide activities that allow them to meet their needs. Resource 6.2 provides an example of an activity interest survey that a teacher could use when making decisions about curricular offerings.

Curriculum models are used to deliver tasks in a meaningful way that also contributes to learning outcomes. Curriculum models focus on specific, relevant, and challenging outcomes that allocate more time for learners to be engaged with learning (Lund & Tannehill, 2010). Some of the common curriculum models include Sport Education, Adventure Education, and the Skill Theme Approach.