Why Are Students Unmotivated in a Classroom?

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ABSTRACT

The paper looks at the issue of motivation among students in a class room environment. The main research problem of this research study is the reason for less motivation among students in a class room environment. To address the research problem, a literature review is conducted wherein information is collected from various journal articles. Also, a quantitative research method was conducted with the help of questionnaire where in students respond to multitude of question related to the subject of research problem. Consequently, findings have been revealed and conclusion is narrated regarding the factors inhibiting motivation along with solutions to motivate students in class room environment.

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Introduction

Students in classroom are expected to be active, energetic, spirited and passionate about learning. An ideal student in a classroom needs to have the desire to interact with peers and teachers to enhance their learning experience. However, mostly, the students are observed to be unmotivated in classroom. The students are distracted, self – obsessed and resistant to cooperate in a classroom and this is a fact which threatens the teacher as well as educational organizations. The students irrespective of their age are less motivated in classroom and the reason behind this phenomenon can be varied. The motivation expressed by the students is a fact which encourages and inspires the teacher to deliver a good learning experience, but the reality is opposite. The research problem which is being assessed in this paper is “why students are unmotivated in a classroom”?

In this research paper, the main attempt will be question the reason behind the unmotivated class room students and there will be use of certain research methodology to address the research question. The research methodology which will be used is literature review and as many as 10 literature works will be studied, explored and interpreted to find its insights. The research will explore peer reviewed and scholarly journals to extract information pertaining to the subject. The subject needs in- depth study of student’s behavior in classroom and what are the factors leading to their less motivation in classroom. As part of the literature review, certain questions will be formulated to address the research problem. The data will be collected and finding will be constructed to address the research question.

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Literature Review

The literature which is being reviewed primarily is “How to Motivate Your Students” by Ronald L. Girmus. According to (Girmus ,2011,p.17) “Teachers with motivated, engaged classrooms have different characteristics and shows different behaviors than those teachers with classrooms in which the motivation and engagement of students is low.  The author in his journal qualifies the responsibility to motivate the students with teacher. The author claims that if the teacher plans the lesson and merge creativity with, it can motivate the students in an immense way. The author is correct in his assumption because if teacher understands the basic needs and interests of the students then it is possible for the students to get motivated in the classroom.

The second literature which is explored is “Why Do High School Students Lack Motivation in the Classroom? Toward an Understanding of Academic Motivation and, the Role of Social Support” by Lisa Legault.  The author (Legault,2006,p.567) explains that “According to self-determination theory behavior can be effectuated through authentic motivation (pleasure and interest-related motives), outer motivation (instrumental motives), and amotivation (an absence of motivation)”. As the journal suggest the interest and pleasure arising activities need to be introduced in the classroom environment to enhance the motivation of the students.  A self -determination theory explores the value of self -determination in creating motivation among students to acquire excellence in future life.

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In the journal article titled “Teacher Efficacy Issues in the Practice of Novice Teachers” by Laura L. Onafowora more information on the subject is found. According to (Onafowora,2004,p.34 )  “ The teachers with academic qualification are more skilled to motivate students rather than one will less teaching knowledge and skills”. As the author suggest a teacher has a huge role to play when it comes to the motivation and interests of a student in the classroom. A teacher with academic qualification understands the cognitive and psychological basis underlying the process of learning and can use their teaching skills to enhance the creativity, learning skill and interests of students. So, it is the experience of the teacher which matters the most when it comes to motivational spirit of the students in the classroom.

Another literature which is reviewed is “Teaching Unmotivated and Under-Motivated College Students: Problems, Challenges, and Considerations” by Donovan A. McFarlane. According to (McFarlane,2010,p.1) “Today’s college classroom: dealing with unmotivated and under-motivated students whose inclination toward learning stems from both academic and social factors that the faculty must effectively address to meet teaching-learning goals”. In this journal, the effort is to understand the psychological and social factors behind the lack of motivation among students in classroom.

The journal article “Reaching Unmotivated Students” by Beth Ann Berliner has given more insight in to the subject. According to the author (Berliner,2004,p.46) “Following recent research discoveries, eagerness to learn is now viewed as an inherent capacity in all students when they have a positive view of themselves and a supportive learning environment”. The literature is reinforcing on the fact that student motivation can be achieved by supporting the students psychologically and emotionally in the class room environment and to an extend on a personal level.

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The journal “Student Learning Motivation and Psychological Hardiness: Interactive Effects on Students’ Reactions to a Management Class” by Michael Cole also explains about of lack of motivation of students in classroom.  According to (Cole,2004,p.64) “Students can feel overwhelmed by the numerous responsibilities associated with being a college student and can suffer a loss in motivation to perform and will experience a severe state of depressed mood”

The next journal article which is studied is the “Motivating the academically unmotivated” A critical issue for the 21st century by Suzanne Hidi . The two explanations for unmotivated students are lack of ability and lack of effort and less can be done about the former and hence the latter need to be concentrated upon (Hidi,2000,p.151). The journal article focuses on the fact that boring teacher, difficult assignments and lack of non – academic activities can bring in redundancy among the students.

The article “Content Literacy: Motivating Students to Read in the Content Classroom: Six Evidence-Based Principles” is also studied which is written by William G. Brozo. According to the author (Brozo,2008,p.172) “The evidence is clear that students who possess high school-related self-efficacy are more engaged and motivated than students with low self-efficacy. With this idea, the author is attempting to confirm that self – efficacy which is the confidence a student has about their capacity creates motivation and inspiration among students during academic performance. From this, it can be understood that teacher can create conditions in class room environment which can increase the student’s competency and self – perception.

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The next journal which is examined for research purpose is “Factors Affecting Motivation in Language Learning” written by Hamidah Abdul Rahman. According to (Rahman,2017,p.543-548) “Some teachers restricts students’ talking while others allow talking expression and even interpretation of emotions and restrictions take away the opportunity of students to perform their tasks on their own”. This is an important aspect to be imbibed by teachers as a student who is not emotionally inspired will be less likely to be motivated by classroom environment. The motivation for learning achievement need to be embedded in the minds of the students.

The article “” The development of a questionnaire to measure students’ motivation towards science learning.” is written by Tuan.L. Hsiao and explains on measuring and evaluation student’s motivation towards learning. The motivation of the students need to be monitored regularly which would enable them to progress as time proceed ( Hsiao,2005,p.639).The journal states if the feedback of the students is collected with help of questionnaire then the teachers get a clear idea about the motivation level of students. This is a scientific approach to understand the motivation level of a students and it allows teachers to act according to the outcome.

Methodology

In this research study, the methodology used is quantitative research method where the survey will be conducted to collect data from the participants. A quantitative research method emphasized on the objective of the research question, deals with the logic number and objective stance. The quantitative research method is a scientific way of understanding a problem and acquiring data from a sample population to arrive at an outcome. The purpose of this study was to determine the reason behind lack of motivation among students in a classroom environment.

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Data Collection Method and Tools

This research used survey method for data collection and the tool used was questionnaire. The questionnaire was constructed with various questions pertaining to research question and attempt to identify the participants’ opinion, feeling and emotions regarding the subject.

In the case of data collection tools, the research used semi – structured questionnaire which was presented by the researcher as the guide for research. For this purpose, certain questions were constructed for the researcher to get assistance towards the compliance of research objectives.  The questionnaire design was in adherence to the subjectivity of the research.

The design of the questionnaire has three elements to be considered;

  • Understanding the questions to be asked.
  • Selecting the nature of question to be asked and how the wording is structured.
  • Designing the questionnaire layout.

The questionnaire incorporated 10 questions which included both open and close ended questions.

Sample Selection

The participants were selected for the survey considering the research objectives. Ten female students were chosen randomly who could  impart their opinion regarding the reason for lack of motivation in a class room environment. The sample populations are students who are studying at Qatar secondary girls schools and were selected on a random basis. All the participants are female students, and this is not due to gender bias but because of the limitation to access schools which had both male and female students. For the questions please refer to appendix.

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Findings & Discussion

The findings of the research are results which will be laid out below in relevance to the questions presented in the questionnaire. (Refer to Appendix)

Question One

To what extend as a student you feel inspired by the idea of learning in a class room environment?

Regarding this question, almost 6 students expressed that they were less inspired in learning when they are at class room. The other 4 students expressed that they are interested in an average manner. From this we can understand that none of the students were highly attracted towards learning and most of them had no intention for learning.  In this case, we can understand that the psychology of a student reflects on his educational motive and a teacher must be knowledgeable enough to observe a student and monitor his behavior in class room. A depressed student can be unmotivated and if teacher invest time in understanding student then it will provide strategies to enhance their class room engagement.

Question Two

In the classroom what is the best aspect you like?

This being an open -ended question all the students had varied answers according to their perception and understanding. Around 7 students agreed that communicating with the peers was the best part of the classroom interaction. And 3 of them believed communication skill of their teacher impressed them in

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Question Three

Please suggest the things that you dislike about learning in a classroom?

Regarding this question, around 8 of them responded that heavy assignment workloads, rude behavior of teachers and lack of creative work shops distracted them from interacting in class.  Two of the students responded that the class room environment is extremely disciplined and only related to academic learning which seems uninteresting and uninspiring. The author asserts on the fact that the learning experience need to be enhanced by teacher by using teaching and learning theory and communication strategies. It is a fact that multi – skilled and communicative teachers can change the perspective of learning experience for children and make them more motivated in the classroom.

Question Four

What qualities are needed in a teacher to motivate students?

For this question, 5 of the participants expressed that the teacher should be pleasant, friendly and informative to be appealing. While 3 of the students responded that a teacher need to give interesting facts about learning subject and need to listen more to the students’ problems and learning difficulties. While 2 of the students suggested that teacher need to be less strict and must compliment students for their efforts.

Question Five

Does the classroom environment provide freedom to communicate?

For this question, 8 students responded that the classroom environment provided freedom in a moderate manner. However, 2 of the students expressed that teachers were excessively disciplined and provided least freedom in the classroom. This is an appropriate suggestion whereby the positive emotions are encouraged in students who have lower learning capacity. The inherent interests and capacity of the students need to be assessed by the teacher to motivate the students.

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Question Six

Does teacher employ humor and creativity while teaching?

Around 7 students responded that teachers were humorous and creative on a minor level. However, 3 students found teacher serious and less creative.

Question Seven

What motivates you to complete an assignment?

To this question, 9 of the students responded that appreciation and recognition in class motivated them while one student responded that fear towards rejection motivate them to complete an assignment.

Question Eight

Does teacher engage you in learning process?

For this question, 8 out of 10 students replied that teachers do not engage themselves in the learning process and most of them felt discouraged in the class room. Two of the participants responded that they feel at times teacher encourage them to participate in class room learning process. In such a scenario ,it can be suggested that interest and pleasure arising activities need to be introduced in the classroom environment to enhance the motivation of the students.  A self -determination theory explores the value of self -determination in creating motivation among students.

Question Nine

Do you think students communicate with each other well at class?

About this question, 6 out of 10 students agreed that they communicate well with students. Only 4 participants responded that their communication is on moderate level.

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Question Ten

What is your opinion on class debates?

Regarding this question, it was observed that 9 of the students wanted to engage in class debates while one student thought class debates is not agreeable. In this situation, the  students need to be categorized and everyone’s interest, learning capacity and weaknesses need to be understood to keep them motivated and engaging in a classroom environment.

No. Questionnnaire Questions Response rate
    Favorable Unfavorable
1 To what extend as a student you feel inspired by the idea of learning in a class room environment? 60% 40%
2 In the classroom what is the best aspect you like? 70% 30%
3 Does the classroom environment provide freedom to communicate? 80% 20%
4 Does teacher employ humor and creativity while teaching? 70% 30%
5 Does teacher engage you in learning process? 20% 80%
6 Do you think students communicate with each other well at class? 60% 40%
7 What is your opinion on class debates? 90% 10%

Conclusion

In a classroom environment, it is essential for the students to feel motivated and inspired as learning experience merely does not relate to acquiring academic knowledge. If the students are unmotivated in a classroom environment, then the teacher is to be held responsible because a teacher can make students motivated if she employs teaching tactics and strategies. From the study, it can be assessed that most of the students are less interested in the class because teacher is less engaging, friendly and rude. To motivate students, it is essential for the teacher to understand the learning ability of students and create a classroom environment which is vibrant, creative and engaging. Teachers need to communicate meaningfully with students to understand their desire and motives. Teacher must make learning an exciting experience and should make parents involved in school activities. Also, teachers need to encourage students and compliment them to raise their self- confidence.

The teacher can be wise with homework assignments and assign works only which are necessary and relevant to give personal space to students. Also, it is necessary to have one – on – one conversation with students to understand their chronic problems with academics and personal life. The teacher needs to initiate plans to make students more organized and should maintain a friendly tone while communicating with students. Teacher needs to be a more of a friend rather than an academic instructor to attain more personal relationship with students. Brain teaching is another way in which students can be motivated and these processes strengthen the cognitive skill of students. Hence, unmotivated students in a classroom environment can be a result of an unqualified and unskilled teacher.

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Did you like this sample?
  1. Berliner, B. A. (2004). Reaching Unmotivated Students. Prakken Publications, 69(5), 46-47.
  2. Brozo, W. G. (2008). Content Literacy: Motivating Students to Read in the Content Classroom: Six Evidence- Based Principles. Wiley on behalf of the International Literacy Association, 62(2), 172-174.
  3. Cole, M. S. (2004). Student Learning Motivation and Psychological Hardiness: Interactive Effects on Students’ Reactions to a Management Class. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 16(3), 64-85.
  4. Girmus, R. L. (2011). How to Motivate Your Students. NMSU, 42(2), 1-17.
  5. Hidi, S. (2000). “Motivating the academically unmotivated” A critical issue for the 21st century. Review of Educational Research, 70(2), 151-179.
  6. Legault, L. (2006). Why Do High School Students Lack Motivation in the Classroom? Toward an Understanding of Academic Amotivation and the Role of Social Support. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(3), 567-582.
  7. McFarlane, D. (2010). Teaching Unmotivated and Under-motivated College Students: Problems, Challenges, and Considerations. College Quarterly, 13(3), 1-5.
  8. Onofowara, L. L. (2004). Teacher Efficacy Issues in the Practice of Novice Teachers. Educational Research Quarterly, 28(4), 34-43.
  9. Rahman, H. A. (2017). Factors Affecting Motivation in Language Learning. International Journal of Information and Education Technology, 7(7), 543-548.
  10. Hsiao.L.T(2005). The development of a questionnaire to measure students’ motivation towards science learning. International Journal of Science Education, 27(6), 639-654.
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