Motivational Techniques

"Why learn this?", "How is this relevant to the class/my life/my career goals?"

It may not be readily apparent why certain exercises are incorporated into laboratory curriculum. Furthermore, students may not learn effectively when they can't relate new knowledge to their own preexisting framework of ideas. Therefore it is essential to connect laboratory exercises to a broader significance.

Try describing the laboratory in several ways, relating the material to current events, recent "breakthroughs" in technology, or to common experience.

If possible, use a variety of instructional methodologies.

Additional Resources

The Center for Excellence in Teaching has an excellent article on student motivation.
The main points in this article are:

  • Our ideal goal as teachers is to help students develop the intrinsic motivation that will allow them to become life-long learners.
  • Respect your students as learners.
  • Teaching Assistants, because of their closeness to undergraduates, are often in an excellent position to show the respect, caring and concern as teachers that motivate students.
  • Active learning – engaging students in the class and working with their peers – is an important contributor to student learning.
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