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Motivating Students  

From the Thursday afternoon discussion:
How does one motivate students in service learning projects?

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When my GPA as a math major was dropping, my daddy (an engineering professor) told me to "Get Interested!". So - I switched my major. "Get Motivated!" won't work. Myers-Briggs personality typology would suggest that the majority of people are "extroverted feelers" - they would respond well to a group activity with an immediate, visible payoff. But there are others who would rather work alone and figure out how the world works. Thus no single solution exists. I consider that the optimum project will have a mix of opportunities that allow different styles to succeed. Thus different team goals and methods of achieving those goals - all aimed towards a common desired outcome - with voluntary choice of option, have the best chance of succeeding.

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Bill is quite right that there is no single solution for motivating students. Service learning projects contain several features that generally elevate student motivation:

-SL is cooperative rather than competitive
-students are active stakeholders
-students can see real-world, tangible outcomes
-it is clear how student contributions connect to a larger picture
-students have a chance to interact with potential role models with the community partners
-different types of students can play different roles, so as Bill pointed out, it's more likely they can find their motivational sweet spot.

We have a page on student motivation that has several strategies and references: http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/affective/motivation.html

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