Faculty Focus


Four Ways to Motivate Your Students

Motivating students is one of the most difficult challenges for any faculty member, but lighting the fire is critical to ensuring active, dynamic classes. Alice Cassidy, PhD, principal of In View Educational and Professional Development and a faculty member at the University of British Columbia, has devised a four-step process to motivate students for a more stimulating class for students and faculty alike.

Cassidy shared her strategies during a recent online seminar titled Motivating Students: Four Steps to Dynamic Classes:

Here’s a brief clip from the seminar:

The engagement strategies include:

  1. Share your enthusiasm: If students don’t find a course interesting, they are unlikely to expend the energy it takes to really engage with the material. Sparking this interest begins with instructors sharing their passion. Cassidy recommends constructing an “enthusiasm statement” to share with the students, which highlights how the instructor became interested in the field, what mysteries the course will unlock, and other items.
  2. Meet your students: Dynamic classes start with a shared knowledge of who is taking the course. Instructors should get to know their students, and she shares techniques that are accessible even in a large class. For example, an instructor can use surveys, pre-tests, or ice-breaker games; one of Cassidy’s favorites involves asking everyone to simultaneously shout out something they can’t live without. “Chocolate” is a popular answer, “iPhone” may not be far behind.
  3. Harness their interests: Conducting pre-tests can yield a lot of information about where students are starting in a course and also may indicate which students can be asked to teach, share, or explain some subjects in class. Cassidy tells of a student explaining digestion with the help of a T-shirt labeled with different body parts to which she would point and explain while she ate—and presumably digested—a bite of food.
  4. Add “new spice” to class: Cassidy explains how to use story, narrative, and other types of information to allow students to “nibble” at new ideas and explore them in ways that complement traditional content-based learning approaches.

To learn more about the seminar, go here »