How Teachers can motivate the Unmotivated Students

While we have dealt with subjects like how the schools deal with ambition, the importance of architecture on learning outcomes and deleterious effects of corporal punishment on children in our previous articles it’s time I try and answer one of the most frequent queries, how to deal with the unmotivated students.



What inhibits motivation in students? Generally, there are a host of factors that generate a want of attention in the classroom; they range from circumstantial to psychological. There are other reasons like monotony, which is highly common. If the deficit of attention is protracted and becomes defining of a student it begins to qualify as lack of motivation and that is a condition where remedial impetus has to be dynamic and insightful and never reactive.

There are certain tips that a teacher can use to motivate the unmotivated students—

Attempt Inclusion proactively: The teacher can attempt to fire the imagination of the most unmotivated student by creating opportunities for participation for them in the classroom. The unmotivated students naturally hesitate to participate but if their participation is elicited a barrier of sorts is removed.

Through participation in an activity, it is possible that the student rediscovers interest or confidence and the deficiency of attention is removed. This will not happen in a day or week, it requires patience and craft of not making it too obvious to the student that he or she is being worked upon. The class must remain targeted to the learning targets and the behavior modification must be subtle.

Develop a Relationship: Extracting performance from the underperforming may be daunting without having a positive relationship with the class built prior. If the teacher shows interest in the performance of the student not only in the class he or she teaches but what is taught in other classes too, students appreciate it. This is one of the easiest ways to show that you are committed and, in fact, it turns you more committed and interested which becomes apparent in your interaction with the class. The attention must not be complemented with subsidizing on the assessment of the performance, however. The learning must be enhanced in the uninterested student through innovative teaching and planned instruction.

Exhibit the Relevance of Academics: This is by far the most reiterated idea. To demonstrate how the particular subject is connected to the life outside the class and establish its relevance to daily life is the most fruitful pedagogical practice. The highly motivated students find the association themselves and it is not inept on the part of the teacher to discover how they do that and use those ideas or variants of them to teach the unmotivated students.

Assess the assessment: It is not conventional to question your own questionnaire, but it is sometimes a source of insight into the opaquest of  minds. It is through the responses to the assessment that one can find how the particular student thinks or does not think. The lacunae can be addressed by recognizing the pattern by comparing notes with the teachers of other subjects and find out if it is lack of interest in the subject or overall lack of comprehension that makes the student an underperformer and reinforces the lack of motivation. In many cases it will not be an easy task, not to say assiduous, to gain insight but if one manages to do it the future of a student can be defended.

If the teacher assesses that there may be some underlying emotional issue that is causing the disinterest in the class he or she must not hesitate to make available the help of a counselor to the student and it cannot be overemphasized that giving up must not be regarded as an option.


Vinod Kakumanu

Vinod Kakumanu

Founder & Consultant - School Serv

Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.

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