Student Experience Research Network Blog

Motivation is an important component of success in both the classroom and beyond. When students are motivated they learn more, persist longer, create higher quality work, earn better grades, and score higher on standardized tests. A staggering 69% of students who dropped out of high school reported that they weren’t motivated to work hard in school.

Rory Lazowski and Mindset Scholar Chris Hulleman recently completed an extensive meta-analysis of motivation studies to learn more about what new approaches are being tested by researchers in schools to foster student motivation. A meta-analysis is a powerful analytical technique that allows researchers to learn from dozens, or even hundreds, of studies in order to gain a deeper understanding of a specific topic. By looking across multiple studies at once, researchers can create a statistical summary of what is known in the research field and get a better understanding of what works best.

Key findings from the meta-analysis:

  • Programs designed by researchers to increase students’ motivation were generally effective.
  • The programs not only improved student motivation but also other educational outcomes, such as grades and attendance.

The main findings suggest two important things. First, motivation isn’t an inherent trait of an individual but is malleable and dependent on context and framing. Second, efforts to promote greater motivation among students are an important, but by no means the only piece of the puzzle for improving student outcomes.

Where do we go from here?

It is crucial for translators of research and practitioners to work together to determine how schools and programs can be designed to promote greater motivation, especially when implemented at greater scale. Two examples of collaborative groups aimed at building these bridges in the realm of student motivation and “productive persistence” are PERTS Lab at Stanford University and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Such partnerships allow both sides to leverage their respective expertise, and ultimately, produce more motivating, rewarding experiences of school for both students and educators.

To learn more about the specifics of this study check out our Research Brief.

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