Engaging students in projects and topics that matter in their lives is the heart of student-centered learning. A variety of strategies can increase student engagement such as building relationships with adults and peers, making learning activities meaningful and relevant to students’ lives, and stimulating creativity and curiosity. Motivation is also increased when students feel they can control their learning outcomes through continued effort. Thus teaching students about neuroplasticity, fostering a growth mindset in the classroom, and helping students build resilience and perseverance are crucial strategies.
The resources below include background readings, tips, and tools to help any educator build engagement and motivation in their classroom:
Motivation, Engagement, and Student Voice
This report by Students at the Center (SATC) synthesizes research on achievement motivation, school engagement, and student voice. The authors conclude that the more educators use student-centered approaches to reinforce student agency, the more motivation and engagement are likely to rise.
SATC Engagement Professional Development Module
This professional development module from SATC can help teachers increase student engagement. It includes all the materials a facilitator will need to lead a school team through four 60- to 90-minute-long activities. Participants will review research-supported strategies, learn to evaluate engagement, and plan adjustments to classroom practice.
SATC Motivation Professional Development Module
In this professional development module, participants will explore how teacher behaviors can affect student motivation. It includes all the materials a facilitator will need to lead four 60- to 80-minute-long activities. Participants will learn the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and explore best practices for motivating students.
Student-Centered Learning: Building Agency and Engagement
This video from Edutopia showcases student-centered learning approaches at work at Maloney High School in Meriden Public Schools in Connecticut. Collaborative group work, inquiry-based learning, authentic tasks, and student choice all foster student engagement.
Pioneering the New Way of Learning: Learner Agency and Opportunity
This article discusses a framework that explores learner agency and student motivation written by two students. It also introduces the student-led organization, GripTape, which advocates to put youth in charge of their learning.
How Youth Learn: Ned’s GR8 8 Video
This fun video presents eight powerful conditions of learning based on neuroscience research from the point of view of a student. This is a great introduction to the science of learning for teachers and students alike.
How to Integrate Growth Mindset Messages into Every Part of Math Class
This article discusses the importance of belief in brain plasticity for students studying math. The author includes tips for creating a classroom culture that emphasizes growth mindset.
Growth Mindset Assessment
Designed by researchers from UChicago Consortium on School Research and Stanford University, this survey can be used identify students’ academic mindset, a contributing factor in motivation and academic success.
How Kids Learn Resilience
In this article, the author asserts that non-cognitive traits or skills like grit, self regulation, optimism, and resilience cannot be “taught” but rather, built through student-centered environments that nurture a sense of belonging as well as academic challenge.
Teaching Perseverance and Resilience “Resource Bundle”
This entry bundles five resources together to help teachers learn the importance of grit and other key character traits that support learning, as well as how schools can develop and assess them. The entry includes suggestions for using these five resources for professional development in a group or on one’s own.