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Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The importance of motivation for students

The importance of motivation  for students in learning institutions. Schools, Universities and organizations and schools normally keep their students and employees are always motivated to carry out their work to the best of their ability (Osiki, 2001). This paper takes a critical analysis of how motivation influences students’ performance.

The main significance of student motivation strategies is to boost morale of students. For instance, if a school swimming team in school is losing, this can negatively impact on the students. Furthermore, this loss can negatively impact on the behavior of students hence decrease performance while motivation increase their performance.

The second role of motivation in school is when a student might be going through personal domestic problems and therefore, it is the responsibility of the teacher to ensure students are motivated to carry out their class work effectively.

Motivation and School Culture
For great motivation in school to be realized,”Old practices and other losses need to be buried and commemorated while meaningless practices and symbols need to be analyzed and revitalized” (Ayotola, 1998). Emerging visions, dreams, and hopes among the student out of creativity should to be articulated and celebrated. The culture can be embodied and transformed. Gesinde, (2000) explains that through such channels as the “school’s shared values, heroes, rituals, ceremonies, stories, and cultural networks, students get motivated and this goes along way in boosting their class work.

If motivation and academic achievement are to be a definitive part of a school’s culture, they must be communicated and celebrated in as many forums as possible. There are a variety of practical ways that goals related to motivation and academic achievement can be communicated. In his review of studies focusing on organizational culture in effective schools, John Davis (1989) cites several studies that indicate that school leaders can communicate their goals by using a wide variety of concrete and symbolic tools:

An extremely important component of the climate of the effective school is the presence of visible symbols which illustrate and confirm what is considered to be important in the school. Put another way, visible symbols manifest the school’s underlying values and assumptions. . . . School newsletters, statements of goals, behavior codes, rituals, symbols, and legends are all part of the culture of the organization and convey messages of what the school really values. Johnston (1987) echoes this point when he says, “Values are the bedrock of any institution. They articulate the essence of the organization’s philosophy about how it goes about achieving success.”

He, too, points out that a school’s values are communicated and disseminated through familiar means: leaders and heroes, the cultural network (the “grapevine”), and rituals and ceremonies. The dynamics and logistics of most schoolsare such that the principal cannot possibly oversee the motivational needs of each and every student. But groups of people can be affected by the culture in which they participate, and this domain is under the control and stewardship of the principal
The successful design, development and implementation of motivational decisions are very complex and at times daunting tasks for many school managers especially when managing the students.  Usually, school managers will be faced with daily problems that require the application of tools that will ensure for the successful operations irrespective of the sectors they manage such as the identification of the objectives of the school organization, alternative means of achieving the stated objectives and the selection of the means that accomplish the objectives in the most efficient manner.

The first process in the decision making process will entail the identification of the problem. The problem in dealing with student rewards for the optimum benefit of the learning institution must enhance the ability of the organization to effectively achieve its objectives.
Culture and Climate in Academically Effective Schools

Schools that demonstrate high standards of achievement in academics, have a culture characterized by a well-defined set of goals that all members of the school—administration, faculty, and students—value and promote. If a principal can establish and clearly communicate goals that define the expectations of the school with regard to academic achievement, and if the principal can rally a constituency of teachers and students to support those goals, then the motivation to achieve the goals is likely to follow.

Most reviews of the effective school literature point to the consensus that school culture and climate are central to academic success.

Typical of the findings is the summary of Purkey and Smith, who in their review of the literature on effective schools found a close correlation between positive school culture and academic quality:
The literature indicates that a student’s chance for success in learning cognitive skills is heavily influenced by the climate of the school. . . . A school-level culture press in the direction of academic achievement helps shape the environment (and climate) in which the student learns. An academically effective school would be likely to have clear goals related to student achievement, teachers and parents with high expectations, and a structure designed to maximize opportunities for students to learn. A press for academic success is more likely to realize that goal than would a climate that emphasizes affective growth or social development. (p. 440)
The Effect of School Leadership on Motivation and Achievement

The work of Leithwood and Montgomery (1984) is especially helpful in understanding the relationship of motivation to effective leadership and school goals because it addresses the principal’s motivation to become a more effective leader as well as the student’s motivation to learn. They describe four stages that principals go through in the process of becoming more and more effective as school leaders. The first, and least effective, stage, administrator is characterized by the principal’s desire simply to run “a smooth ship.”

At the second stage, humanitarian, principals focus primarily on goals that cultivate good interpersonal relations, especially among school staff. Principals at the third stage, program manager, perceive
interpersonal relations as an avenue for achieving school-level goals that stress educational achievement. At the fourth and highest stage, systematic problem solver, principals become devoted to “a legitimate, comprehensive set of goals for students, and seek out the most effective means for their achievement” (p. 51).
One of the chief characteristics of highly effective principals at the systematic problem solver stage is the ability to transfer their own desire and motivation to achieve valued goals to the other participants in the educational process. They strive toward consensus about these goals and actively encourage the use of such goals in departmental and divisional planning. Such behavior can be explained by the principal’s knowledge of human functioning and the actions consistent with such knowledge.

Highly effective principals appear to understand that school improvement goals will only direct the actions of staff, students and others to the extent that these people also adopt them as their own. Increases in principal effectiveness can be explained as increases in opportunities, provided by the principal, for all relevant others to agree upon and internalize approximately the same set of school improvement goals. (p. 31)

According to Leithwood and Montgomery, as principals become more and more effective, they come to understand that people will not be motivated unless they believe in the value of acting to achieve a particular goal: People are normally motivated to engage in behaviors which they believe will contribute to goal achievement. The strength of one’s motivation to act depends on the importance attached to the goal in question and one’s judgment about its achievability; motivational strength also depends on one’s judgment about how successful a particular behavior will be in moving toward goal achievement. (p. 31)

Motivation on the part of the principal translates into motivation among students and staff through the functioning of goals, according to Leithwood and Montgomery. “Personally valued goals,” they say, “are a central element in the principal’s motivational structure—a stimulus for action” (p. 24). In a related study, Klug (1989) describes a measurement-based approach for analyzing the effectiveness of instructional leaders and providesa convenient model for understanding the principal’s influence on student achievement and motivation. The model is shown in figure 1.

Klug notes that school leaders can have both direct and indirect impact on the level of motivation and achievement within two of the three areas shown in figure 1. Although the personal factors—differences in ability levels and personalities of individual students—usually fall outside a school leader’s domain of influence, the other two categories, situational factors and motivational factors, are to some degree within a school leader’s power to control. Klug’s summary of the model describes how these two areas can be a source of influence: School leaders enter the achievement equation both directly and indirectly.

By exercising certain behaviors that facilitate learning, they directly control situational (S) factors in which learning occurs. By shaping the school’s instructional climate, thereby influencing the attitudes of teachers, students, parents, and the community at large toward education, they increase both student and teacher motivation and indirectly impact learning gains. (p. 253.) There are a number of mechanisms which the school leaders and teacher can use to reward motivation and promote academic achievement.

For instance, Gesinde, (2000)in a comprehensive critique of literature on effective leadership and management, he explains that a study in which head teacher in best schools used a variety of methods to publicize the school goals and achievements in the area of academics. These included: 
  • Inviting  in outstanding speakers for the National Honor Society meetings  
  • Putting names of special education students on the honor roll    
  • Publishing an annual report of academic achievement and mailing it to parents    
  • Displaying academic awards and trophies in the school trophy cabinet
The Importance of Implicit Motivation
Ayotola, (1998) illustrates that, “strengthening the degree of intrinsic motivation students feel for learning”.
Initiating a reward program in most organizations has been easy but managing and developing the rewards comes along with many challenges. This is because reward systems must be well developed and enhanced to reduce student relation and performance.

This involves assessing how the situation will be once the reward has been initiated and looking for possible weaknesses within the reward scheme. This process is well handled with good leadership in schools. Essentially, this will entail a careful consideration of the best way to implement the new reward policies and procedures, what resources are desirable in terms of students, facilities and finances, time, who will drive the process, and the person in who will be responsible for the success of the plan.

It is imperative that the action plan is communicated to all the stakeholders who will be affected by the new changes within and without the organization to limit the possibility of conflict and take into consideration all the divergent views.

References and citations
Ayotola, A. (1998). Motivating Learners for more
effective achievement in mathematics. Nigerian Journal
of Applied Psychology, 4(1), 27-34

Bakare, C.G.M. (1977). Motivation for Occupational Preference
Scale. Psycho-Educational Research Publications.
Gesinde, A. M. (2000). Motivation: Fundamental of Guidance and Counselling. Ibadan: Kanead Publishers:

Okoye, N.N. (1985). The Psychology of Motivation. Adebara
Publishers Limited, Ibadan, Nigeria.

Osiki, J.O. (2001).Motivation for academic study scale.
Ibadan. Stirling-Horden Publisher

Wentzel, K. R. (1998). Social Relationship and Motivation in
middle School. The Role of Parents, Teachers and
Peers. British Journal of Education Psychology 68(2) 35-43.

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