Maximising your students’ motivation

Photo courtesy of Ralph Holmes at Langley School

How come the PE department can get students to turn out on a cold, wet Saturday afternoon to do their subject, when you find it hard to get them to even turn in their homework on time?

Part of the answer is that the PE department have harnessed the power of teams. Teams create a context for celebrating victory, and for commiserating defeat. They also exert a strong peer pressure to not let your mates down. Team sports are more popular than individual sports because they hook into that very human desire to be part of something.

You can now use Yacapaca to turn any test or assignment into a team competition with a single click. This screencast was recorded before the recent design update, but the actions are still the same:

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To really maximise team motivation, steal some techniques from the PE Department’s playbook, and…

  • offer a prize, even if it’s nominal.
  • keep the same teams over several quizzes (the system does this by default).
  • rotate memberships if one team consistently wins or loses. Avoid the Loser Problem.
  • set the teams in advance, and give teams time to study together.
  • engage each team in a debate about the best strategy for winning. It
    is preferred that they work out for themselves that actively coaching
    their weaker members will result in the biggest lift in points.
  • encourage rivalry.


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2 responses to “Maximising your students’ motivation”

  1. I’ve had all 15 classes of my Year 7, 8 and 9 students in teams for over a year now. At the end of each term I give out a small team prize, but it is the competition that motivates – not only to study, but to exercise peer control as bad behaviour loses team points. It also helps when I can’t remember the name of each of my 400 students; at least I know the team name.

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