Highland Learning and Teaching Toolkit

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Learning and Teaching should be Inclusive and Enjoyable:









































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Fostering pupils’ motivation towards learning is an essential feature of the teaching skills involved in establishing a positive classroom climate.

Motivation may be achieved in any of three ways.


The pupil’s natural interest                     intrinsic satisfaction


Motivation by the teacher                      extrinsic rewards


Success in the task                                satisfaction and reward

Points Arising from Research


Young people are intrinsically motivated to a high degree; many elements of the environment constitute challenges for them.  Unfortunately after a number of years in education this intrinsic motivation is dampened.


Intrinsic motivation is more easily undermined than created.


Teachers need to be aware of the purpose of any extrinsic methods that they use for motivating their pupils and have a clear rationale about how they foster intrinsic motivation.


Tasks which best elicit pupil motivation are those seen by pupils to be challenging, difficult but achievable.


Teaching poorly motivated pupils is a major source of stress for teachers.


Role of home and parental encouragement is of major importance in influencing the level of pupils’ academic motivation.


The opportunity to learn from each other in the classroom is becoming recognised as a viable approach to increase pupil motivation and learning.


Praise to criticism in the ratio of 4:1 will develop a more welcoming and positive climate for learning.

Key Elements of Motivation

Intrinsic motivation


Involves an interest in the learning task itself and also satisfaction being gained from task


Effective teaching must win the hearts and minds of pupils if the learning experience is to involve intrinsic motivation, curiosity, interest and a proper educational engagement useful way of eliciting pupils’ interest is to pose a question or a problem at the start of the lesson


A task can afford a way of working that is satisfying, such as learning as part of a group in a social context. Active involvement and co-operation between pupils fosters enjoyment


Project work can act as a very important source of motivation through the degree of choice and control it offers to pupils in undertaking the work


Select topics that are likely to interest pupils, particularly if they relate to pupils’ own experiences


Offering a choice can also elicit interest


Provide pupils with regular feedback concerning how their skills and competence are developing.    Review: Show what you know, understand and can do - rehearse, practice and memorise


Draw their attention to what they can do and understand now compared with before the course of work began

Extrinsic motivation (See Toolkit paper on Praise )


Teacher praise is a powerful motivator although its effect depends on skilful use


Praise should be linked to pupils’ effort and attainment, conveying sincere pleasure on the teacher’s part and should be used with credibility


Well judged, consistent, frequent and targeted use of praise that identifies the individual or group’s specific behaviour or attributes and celebrates them with positive unconditional language is very powerful


Indicate to pupils the usefulness, relevance and importance of the topic or activity to their needs

Expectation for success


Teacher expectations can influence their behaviour towards pupils in ways that promote greater progress and produce a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ effect


Ensure the tasks are challenging and offer pupils a realistic chance of success, taking into account their ability and previous learning


‘Hook’ what is to be learned to existing experience or knowledge to aid memory, help assimilate new learning and raise expectations


Expectations need to convey that the activities are worthwhile and of interest


Monitor pupils’ progress closely providing quick and supportive feedback when a pupil has encountered major difficulties


High expectations which are too demanding will not foster greater progress

Reflection and Discussion

To what extent does pupil motivation play a part in effective learning?

How might a teacher’s expectations influence pupils’ efforts to learn?

Do you make good use of both intrinsic and extrinsic sources of pupil motivation?

Some Activities Relating To the Issue of Motivation

Key element




Some examples and suggestions

Intrinsic motivation Provide pupils with regular feedback concerning how their skills and competence are developing.

The teacher and/or the pupils reconnect with the lesson overview and specific objectives and with agreed personal goals and targets.

Extrinsic motivation

Indicate to pupils the usefulness, relevance and importance of the topic or activity to their needs.

Begin with some unconditional positive praise: ‘You did that well’

Then give the constructive educative feedback: ‘This part could be improved if you…’

Finish with unconditional positive praise: ‘I really enjoyed marking that..’

Expectation for success ‘Hook’ what is to be learned to existing experience or knowledge to aid memory, help assimilate new learning and raise expectation. Engage pupils in working through what relevance the learning has to their own lives and realities, own goals and aspirations

Connect new learning to prior experience:

  • How are we involved in this?

  • How can we use this?

  • Encourage learners to identify their own reasons for taking part in the lesson.

Selected References

Further Reading

Elliot, S. N. & al (1996) Educational Psychology: Effective Teaching, Effective Learning, Madison:Brown and Benchmark.

Kyriacou, C. (2001) Effective Teaching in Schools, Nelson Thornes

Kyriacou, C. (1995) Essential Teaching Skills, Stanely Thornes

Smith, A. & Call, N. (1999) The ALPS Approach (Accelerated Learning in the Primary Schoool),Network Educational Press LTD





Personal motivation is generally accepted, in the wider world of education, to be the key to the rate of success and attainment of a pupil.




A publisher specialising in brain-based learning  

Brain based learning site with good links                                               

The 21st Century initiative                                                          

Official Harvard Project Zero site          

Music and learning                                

Eric Jensen –link between neuroscience and the classroom       

Early years and brain based learning

The Child Development Institute


Last updated 20/08/2010
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