Key principles from Harry Fletcher-Wood on motivation

In a webinar with The Education Hub, Harry Fletcher-Wood shared three key principles for supporting student motivation and engagement that are particularly applicable when students are learning remotely or working independently to prepare for assessments and exams.

Form positive habits

It is extremely useful for students to get into good, regular habits when working independently. These habits need to be simple, consistent, and prompted by clear cues related to when and where they work. People are most likely to form a habit if they connect it to an existing habit so, for example, if students choose to start work every day after breakfast, finishing breakfast is the cue to get on with their work.

Establish effective study routines

While there are some general principles that apply to effective routines – for example, most people are fresher and more productive earlier in the day – what is ultimately most beneficial is for the individual student to set a routine that works for them. Teachers can support students by helping them to go through that planning process, considering what would work best for them and then formulating a detailed plan about what they will do when and where. Keeping things as simple as possible and remembering to build in regular breaks is helpful.

Reinforce and maintain a sense of community

People need to feel that they belong to a community, and one of the most important factors for students is having a sense of social connection with teachers and other students. It is important to include time for social connection as well as time for work and learning, but keep them clearly differentiated and don’t try to do both at once.

People are highly motivated by what is expected of them and what they see others doing, so social influences such as role models and social norms are incredibly powerful. Role models needs to be credible, such as students that others look up to and are prepared to learn from. Social norms are powerful because the fear of missing out is a very effective motivator, so communicating that most people are doing something creates the sense that others won’t want to miss out.