We have an interactive device on the home page of edweek.org that allows us to conduct a weekly poll. To be sure, this online poll does not meet the standards for scientific polling. It is an informal survey, no more, no less. Still, it is a lot of fun to use and it is growing more and more popular among our online readers. For Motivation Matters, this week's poll results are especially worth noting. We asked readers whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: "Most high school students are not motivated to do their best." Of the ...


A story in The Dallas Morning News today about a new initiative in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school district to improve the success of ninth graders, "Motivation, Extra Help Make Ninth Grade More Manageable," touches on a challenge faced by many school districts across the country: Making sure freshman year is not the beginning of an academic slide into four years of underachievement, or worse, dropping out of school. The story notes that nearly a quarter of the district's 9th graders were held back after the 2004-05 school year. It will be interesting to see what impact the initiative has on ...


If time on task and extensive practice are key building blocks for learning, then educators need to take a closer look at the power of video games, especially their ability to provide immediate error feedback, according to a March 31 entry in the blog, Explorations in Learning. The writer suggests that there is much to be learned from video games if students are motivated to spend hours on particular tasks and make adjustments based on error feedback. The entry includes a useful and interesting piece from Wired Magazine, "High Score Education: Games, Not School, Are Teaching Kids to Think," as ...


I must confess I only read the abstract of this research article, "Improving the Writing, Knowledge, and Motivation of Struggling Young Writers," featured on the American Educational Research Association site. And the abstract, which includes a definition of "self-regulated strategy development," or SRSD, was a bit too jargon heavy for my non-researcher sensibilities. But one sentence in the abstract might entice you to read the article. It says that SRSD "had a positive impact on the writing performance and knowledge of struggling second-grade writers attending urban schools serving a high percentage of low-income families."...


The March 30 PEN Weekly NewsBlast points to a story in the Contra Costa Times in California that makes you ask: What was the principal thinking? The principal of Mount Diablo High School in Concord, Calif., apparently organized separate assemblies for students of different races in an effort to pump up their motivation to perform better on upcoming state exams. According to the story, jazz music and images of Martin Luther King greeted African-American students, flags from foreign countries greeted Asian students, and Latinos and whites had separate events. The principal said the race-based assemblies were held to prevent one ...


Multitasking zealots will probably take issue with a recent piece in the New York Times about the drawbacks of turning your mind into a hypertext highway. But for those of you who enjoy digging deeply into an idea or problem without constant interruptions, this piece is worth reading. It raises concerns about multitasking that have implications for student learning and, in turn, motivation. And there is a nice little nod by a researcher quoted in the article to the intellectual powers of us older folks. Check it out....


There are some interesting little factoids about student motivation in a recent National School Boards Association report, "Where We Teach," which examines a number of issues related to school climate in urban schools. The report, for instance, found that almost twice as many teachers as administrators surveyed (29 percent vs. 16 percent) said children at their schools are not motivated to learn, suggesting there might be a disconnnect (surprise, surprise) between teacher experiences and administrator perspectives....


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