Student Motivation

Student Motivation


CREATING AN ENGAGING & INCLUSIVE ENVIRONMENT (read more: pp 26 - 33 in the JITT Guide)

WHAT IS IT?What is it?

Sources of student motivation tend to fall into two broad categories:

  • Extrinsic motivation: grades, degree requirements, competition, family pressure, incentives
  • Intrinsic motivation: genuine interest, personal learning goals, relevance to learner

The various social and cultural contexts that a student experiences, from their personal background to the new contexts they encounter in the university, have the potential to affect the types of motivation they experience (Ryan & Deci, 2000)1.


Motivation is perhaps the most critical non-academic factor to positively affect student performance on coursework. Increased motivation has been linked to increased academic achievement, success in handling stressful situations, and better study skills (Ambrose et al., 2010; Struthers, Perry, & Menic, 2000; Mayhew et al., 2016; Robbins et al., 2004).

DATA …Data

  • 18%of UCD students report that they often (or very often) found courses so interesting that they did more work than was required.
  • 30% of UCD students report that that they often (or very often) had a class where the professor knew their name.
  • 95% of UCD students report that when deciding their majors, intellectual curiosity was very important (UCUES, 2018).


  • Connect material to students’ existing interests, such as current events or pop culture and scientific findings reported in the news.

  • Design course material for real-world relevance, such as creating assignments that could be useful in daily life.

  • Illustrate how the material can transfer across subjects, making explicit connections with other classes and contexts.

  • Make yourself more approachable by sharing positive, relevant, and appropriate examples from your life with the class, such as your previous colleges experiences.

  • Share your own reading, note-taking, and response writing strategies, and discuss how they differ among different genres of writing.



  • “In some classes I am more actively engaged in quick activities or quizzes for a small, less consequential grade.  These are the classes that I want to attend the most, and I rarely miss a day in them.”
  • “When professors post rubrics that clearly describe all levels of grades before I work on the assignment, it is easier for me to meet those expectations.  I tend to do better on these types of assignments.”


  • How can you share and/or demonstrate your own reading, note-taking, and response writing strategies?
  • How can you ensure that your (or your TA’s) feedback is timely, individualized, and focused?
  • 1. List of all references in the complete JITT Guide.