All 5 entries tagged Motivation

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June 24, 2019

10 seconds of PE to forget – Sim

10 seconds of PE to forget

This post is inspired by 10 seconds of a PE lesson which I will always remember, yet I pray that the student in question will be quick to forget. We will call the student Hannah. Hannah is in Year 7; she is enthusiastic and loves to try her hardest. Whilst she can hold her own in a game of netball, she is by no means athletic with a much higher BMI than her peers.

It was the start of the athletics season and I elected to deliver a sprinting lesson in the only way I knew how: sprinting technique and sprint-start coaching, all building up to the big 100m finale. The stage was set, the most eager students which had already competed were waiting at the finish line for the closing heat with Hannah apprehensively holding her best impression of a sprint-start position. The crowd eagerly cheered on as the other competitors competed for a near photo-finish, after which came 10 awkward seconds of depleted applause as Hannah made her way to the finish line, exhausted and humiliated. It is these 10 seconds which I have reflected upon the most in my PGCE year as they embody the degrading nature of performance-orientated PE.

Performance-orientated PE lessons are designed to measure attainment through comparative norm performance. Whilst this celebrates the ablest, there is a danger that such approaches embarrass, marginalise and disengage lower ability students. Achievement goal theory (Nichols, 1984) proposes that we are innately driven to either demonstrate competence or mask incompetence. As such, secondary PE is flooded with ‘Hannahs’ who have undergone negative performance-orientated experiences and now refuse to engage with athletics because their comparative norm incompetence has been exposed.

One answer to this issue is teaching through a mastery-orientated climate rather than performance. In a mastery climate, students achieve goals satisfaction through self-improvement, rather than winning. One framework for adapting lessons for mastery-orientation is Epstein’s (1989) TARGET Model. At the heart of the framework is the movement away from comparative norm performance toward self-referenced goals. Figure 1 illustrates Morgan and Kingston’s (2010) summary of how the model is applied to PE.

Figure 1. (Morgan and Kingston, 2010)

Performance versus Mastery diagram

Upon reflection, using the TARGET framework, I adopted a mastery approach to my sprinting lessons with other classes. Students would work in small groups with the rotating roles of sprinter, timer and coach. They would time each other to sprint for 5 seconds and lay down a cone to mark their distance. The sole lesson objective was to beat your marker by applying the correct technique and I was amazed by the feedback I received.

The ablest students, accustomed to achieving satisfaction through performance goals, became frustrated at the lack of competition, yet they were engaged, nonetheless. One way I overcame this barrier was to offer an optional 100m sprint. But most importantly, lower ability students (Hannahs) which had not held back in stated their reservations towards athletics, actually thanked me for the lesson, because for the first time they were able to enjoy mastery-goal satisfaction in sprinting. My only regret is that it took Hannah’s 10 seconds of embarrassment for me to recognise the need to adapt my teaching climate to allow all students to succeed.


Epstein, J., 1989. Family structures and student motivation: A developmental perspective. Research on motivation in education, 3, pp.259-295.

Morgan, K. and Kingston, K., 2010. Promoting a mastery motivational climate in a higher education sports class. Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sports and Tourism Education (Pre-2012), 9(1), p.73.

Nicholls, J.G., 1984. Achievement motivation: Conceptions of ability, subjective experience, task choice, and performance. Psychological review, 91(3), p.328.

November 21, 2018

How can assessment encourage & motivate learners to succeed, academically & socially? – Danielle

Defined by Wiliam and Black as “activities undertaken by teachers…which provides information to be used as feedback to modify teaching and learning” (Black & Wiliam 2010, p. 82), assessment is considered to be vital for pupil progress (TS6 and TS2). However, it can also provide opportunities for teachers to encourage and motivate learners to succeed, both academically and socially.

Formative assessment can also provide opportunity for teachers to encourage and motivate learners. For example, once a topic has been introduced, a teacher can engage students in an open discussion to determine how pupils can progress in their learning (TS6 and TS2). As strategies such as this also promote the development of higher-order thinking skills, which are typically required for high GCSE grades, pupils are encouraged to succeed academically. Furthermore, and through the use of character sheets, students can be prompted to think empathetically about both sides of the debate. As this helps students to cultivate a flexible mind-set and become more understanding of other people’s views, pupils are also being helped to succeed socially.

Conducting frequent summative assessments, and using them to motivate learners to succeed, can lead to students becoming demotivated and disengaged (Harlen 2007; Hendrick et al. 2017). However, if end-of-topic tests are required, demotivation can be avoided by allowing the students to conduct the test as both open and closed-book. Within the first half of the lesson, pupils attempt the test under exam conditions; this helps the teacher to identify what pupils know and understand, and to determine where progress can be made (TS6). For the remainder of the lesson, pupils are then allowed to use a different colour pen and amend their test using information from textbooks and other resources.

There are many benefits to using assessments in this manner. Firstly, by allowing pupils the opportunity to alter their work, the tests are not considered to be ‘high-stakes’ (Trotter 2006). As such, students do not lose motivation with studying the subject and are encouraged to succeed academically (ibid.). Secondly, as pupils are given marks for both the open and closed-test, they are able to clearly see the grade that they could achieve with further revision (TS2); this can help motivate students to take responsibility for their learning, and thus help them to improve. Finally, by identifying gaps in their knowledge, pupils are able to focus their revision on the weakest aspects of that subject. As this can encourage students to develop skills such as: time-management; prioritising work-load; and self-evaluation, summative assessment can be used to promote social success.

Allowing time for pupils to reflect and respond to feedback from assessments is similarly important for pupils’ academic and social success (TS6). As a trainee teacher, the incorporation of this aspect into my practice needs to be improved. However, when I have prompted my pupils to respond to feedback, they have engaged with the process and have reflected upon how to improve their learning. As Roorda et al. (2011) highlight, this engagement stems from forming positive relationships with the students that are rooted in mutual respect (TS1). If the students trust that it is within their best interest to action the feedback that has been provided, they will be more likely to engage in activities that will help them to succeed.


Black, P. & Wiliam, D., 2010. Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards through Classroom Assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 92(1), pp.81–90. Available at:

Harlen, W., 2007. Assessment of Learning, SAGE Publications. Available at:

Hendrick, C., Macpherson, R. & Caviglioli, O., 2017. What Does this Look Like in the Classroom?: Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice, John Catt Educational Limited. Available at:

Roorda, D.L. et al., 2011. The Influence of Affective Teacher–Student Relationships on Students’ School Engagement and Achievement: A Meta-Analytic Approach. Review of Educational Research, 81(4), pp.493–529. Available at:

Trotter, E., 2006. Student perceptions of continuous summative assessment. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 31(5), pp.505–521. Available at:

September 10, 2018

How can assessment encourage & motivate learners to succeed, academically & socially? Dominic

Assessment, whether it is formative or summative, can be used to encourage and motivate learners to succeed, both academically and socially, in a number of different ways. Reflecting on my own teaching practice in my Initial Teacher Training year, I have met Teacher Standard 6 and its sub-standards by not only making “accurate and productive use of assessment” (Department for Education, 2011, p.12) on a regular basis, but by using assessment to encourage my pupils to stretch and challenge themselves both academically inside the classroom (Evidence 1) and socially outside of the classroom (Evidence 2).

Using assessment to encourage and motivate learners to succeed socially (Evidence 1) has also helped me meet Teacher Standard 2 and its sub-standards by helping me promote “good progress and outcomes by pupils” (Department for Education, 2013, p.10) not just academically in the classroom but socially outside the classroom too. For example, I co-led a GCSE PE kayaking expedition to Wales in half-term (Evidence 2).

In my Initial Teacher Training Year I have learned to use assessment to encourage and motivate learners to succeed by identifying and rewarding success – no matter how small – and using this as a basis for pupil self-improvement (Evidence 1 and Evidence 2). Chappuis and Stiggins write: “Teachers who assess for learning use day-to-day classroom assessment activities to involve students directly and deeply in their own learning, increasing their confidence and motivation to learn by emphasizing progress and achievement rather than failure and defeat” (Chappuis and Stiggins, 2002, p.40).

In terms of using assessment to encourage and motivate learners to succeed academically, I frequently use both formative and summative assessment at the beginning and at the end of my lessons respectively to test the extent to which pupils have retained and recalled prior learning. I use formative assessment at the very start of my lessons to encourage pupils to remember one or more key facts they’ve learned from a previous lesson (not necessarily the preceding one). I link my questioning to the classes scheme of learning. For example, with my three Year 8 classes I often ask pupils when I greet them at the door what one of the key causes or consequences of the First World War was. If the pupil cannot immediately recall the information, then they have to go to the back of the queue. In this respect I use assessment to encourage learners to succeed by introducing an element of competition to the start of the lesson. Most pupils want to get the answer right the first time and enter the classroom before their friends.

In my Initial Teacher Training year I have made a conscious effort to attended numerous CPD sessions on Assessment for and of Learning in order to find new and innovative ways to use assessment as a tool to encourage and motivate learners to succeed academically and socially (Evidence 3). Eadie writes that: “There is clear evidence that assessment can motivate learning in the intrinsic sense of stimulating intellectual curiosity…Assessment which motivates students is likely to be achieved by tasks which are… probably more achievable when the method of assessment is innovative.” (Eadie, 2004, p70).

Academic references

Chappuis, S. and Stiggins, R. (2002). ‘Do Students Care About Learning?’ in Educational Leadership, Vol. 60, pp. 40-43.

Department for Education (2011). Teachers’ Standards Guidance for school leaders, school staff and governing bodies, Crown Copyright.

Eadie, A. (2004). Using Assessment to Motivate Learning - An Overview, Glasgow Caledonian University.

May 29, 2018

Trainee teacher 7: Reading around motivation – Sara

I chose to focus my research project for my PGCE around the idea of motivation and its relation to goal setting and self-regulated learning. Following observations of students within my second placement school, there was a seeming lack of motivation coming from some students (even those that had chosen to take the subject up at GCSE) and I wanted to see how I could work to turn this around.

Much of the literature around motivation suggested to me that it was a very inward and personal ideal, but that one’s motivation towards a task or topic depends a lot on their interest with it. I saw this as meaning that I should try and create a place where students could be motivated and thus plan lessons that interested every single student. This idea was definitely not a revelation and running youth theatres before starting my PGCE meant I had been thinking of topics that attempted to engage every student for a long time. I realised though, that within school I had the task of engaging, on average, 30 students at a time whilst teaching them something new, facilitating their progression and following a scheme of work that I didn’t always write. Furthermore, I couldn’t always be sure (without asking every-single-one of them, every lesson) whether or not they took an interest in what I was teaching them about or their task. I have found that in Drama, in a way, there is enough creative scope to allow for individual interests in a topic to foster and for students to adapt performances to suit their interests, therefore increasing their motivation. For example, in a recent scheme of work about current affairs – I presented students with a number of ‘local’ (and albeit quite dry) headlines and they created scenes based on these – twisting and adapting them within their groups. Although this took some encouraging, as they realised they were able to adapt them to fit their interests whilst still showing the effect of the main story and characters, the level of effort and engagement within the classroom seemed to rise.

Reading the literature also made me aware of the importance of self-regulated learning and the impact this can have on a students’ success; essentially, teaching students to take control of their learning is integral to their development. I understood this as applying to the Drama classroom in that I offer more time for pupils to reflect on their own work as well as peer feedback. This means I now ask students in KS3 what they could do to improve in order to encourage self-regulation. I have realised though, that supporting students to become self-regulated learners is quite a long process and not something that can be done immediately. Furthermore, encouraging and facilitating students to become self-regulated learners may have to come from the whole school because, if students are not used to regulating their learning in other lessons, what is to say they will do it in my lesson? I saw an example of this recently when rehearsing with year 11 for their practical exam. Their pieces had been independently devised, with some direction and feedback from their class teacher and myself. The day before her exam a student was, to put it simply, asking me to show her how her monologue should be done and what she should do. I’m not sure whether it was because the panic was setting in, but her and the rest of the group’s efforts to facilitate their own learning and devise and perfect their piece for performance was lacking and they were very much relying on me, as the teacher, to tell them what to do, when to do it, how to do it and whether they were doing right and wrong. I think encouraging self-regulated learning to be a very powerful thing and I hope that in the future, as I teach classes of my own for longer periods, I can attempt to instil it within my lessons more which will work to support students as they progress through education.

The literature suggested that getting students to set themselves a goal would help to foster their independence as self-regulated learners and increase their motivation. I think it is important for students to set themselves goals, to help them understand and focus on what they need to do to improve and regularly do this within my lessons. I understood from the literature the power of feedback against these goals, as a way of checking students are not setting themselves something too easy, or too hard. This is thus something I have tried to do since doing my literature review and hope to continue to do (hopefully getting more efficient at it so that it takes less time). I hope that as students get more feedback against their goals, they will be able to regulate their learning better and set substantial and reachable goals. Whether this goal-setting actually has an impact on their motivation is what my action research projects attempts to consider.

February 14, 2018

An example of how research can benefit your practice – Vicki

As a newly qualified teacher, research has been key in helping me to develop my practice. I have found that research can be particularly useful when trying to resolve issues that arise in the classroom.

For example, as we progressed towards October half-term, I found that behaviour in my classes started to slip. Students would enter the classroom in drips and drabs and were slow to settle. Often, a quarter of the lesson would go by and only the register had been completed. I was giving out over 10 warnings every lesson, and adding time to each lesson for all students. It was clear that my students were not motivated and I was concerned that the students were not progressing as they should.

Although I had asked for advice from members of staff at the school, the various strategies that I had tried were not effective in the long-term. At this point, I decided to turn to research to help me. As teachers, we often focus on the behavioural problems in front of us, not the cause. I needed to find a way to improve behaviour, by tackling the motivational issues that were causing them in the first place.

Research showed me that too often, there is a focus on what not to do in class, as opposed to what to do (Becker, Madsen, Arnold and Thomas, 1967). This is reinforced by more recent evidence, showing that when we punish a person for behaving badly, we leave it up to them to discover how to behave well (Maag, 2001). According to Kaplan, Gheen and Midgley (2002), emphasising mastery goals in class reduces the likelihood of students disrupting lessons. Positive reinforcement can be used to manage classes and enhance skill performance (McLeod, 2015). Students take rules and responsibilities more seriously when there is a common approach, from which they benefit.

I introduced a reward based system called Class Dojo with my groups. Students can be awarded for positive actions, but points can also be deducted for negative behaviour. I believed that this system would have three main outcomes. Firstly, I hoped it would motivate students. The incentive of parental contact for students with the most points led to healthy competition within my classes. As well as this, my expectations would be reinforced every lesson, as Kaplan et al. (2002) had suggested. Each time a point was given out, students would know what it had been given for and why. Finally, I wanted there to be an attention on positive behaviours, as opposed to negative.

Very quickly I found that this system was having a positive impact on my lessons. The number of warnings that I gave out each lesson was reduced, as was the number of detentions. I rarely added minutes to the end of the lesson. Students were more enthusiastic and willing to contribute their ideas. In terms of data, most students reached or exceeded their end of year targets. This demonstrates that the use of a rewards based system can be a success. I ran a survey to see what impact using Class Dojo had on my students. It was clear that they valued receiving positive points, and felt more motivated in class based on its use.

To conclude, this is an example of how research can be used effectively in the classroom to resolve a problem. By researching an issue and trialling different strategies, teachers can become reflective practitioners that use evidence-informed ideas to develop their classroom practice. Teachers need to constantly evolve to meet their pupils needs, and research is fundamental in achieving this.


Becker, W.C., Madsen, C.H., Arnold, C.R. and Thomas, D.R. (1967) The Contingent Use of Teacher Attention and Praise in Reducing Classroom Behaviour Problems. The Journal of Special Education 1(3): pp 287-307.

Kaplan, A., Gheen, M. and Midgley, C. (2002) Classroom goals structure and student disruptive behaviour. British Journal of Educational Psychology 72(2): pp 191-211.

Maag, J.W. (2001) Rewarded by Punishment: Reflections on the Disuse of Positive Reinforcement in Schools. Exceptional Children 67(2): pp 173-186.

McLeod, S. (2015) Skinner – Operant Conditioning [online]. Available at:

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