Motivation and improved student outcomes

Dr Alison Davis from Vision Education New Zealand sat down with Teacher magazine's Dominique Russell at Research Conference 2018 to discuss the importance of understanding motivation from a student's perspective.

‘If we really put the student under the spotlight and we're using inquiry and inquiry cycles to look at what are the needs of the students, in terms of improving their outcomes or their academic needs, or social needs, or emotional needs, we really have to understand learning a bit more from their perspective,' Davis says.

It was this question that led Davis to begin exploring the concept of student agency.

‘[One] of the aspects of student agency has always been the attribute of motivation. But most of the time we hear about motivation, we hear about motivation and engagement and they run together,' she says.

‘In many scenarios – when you talk with teachers, when you read research, when you hear people talking about agency, they do put motivation and engagement into the same bag.'

According to Davis, motivation will not only lead to improved outcomes for students, but it will also help teachers to better understand the aspirations of the kids in their classrooms.

‘… I do believe that motivation is not just one thing. It's a set of attributes, that when used together over time and inclusive of students, it will lead to improved outcomes for students and it will help us as teachers and educators to better understand the needs and aspirations of our kids.'


In what ways do you seek to better understand the needs and aspirations of your students? What role does motivation have in developing this understanding?

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