03 August, 2010



The following ideas are a product of a faculty seminar at Jefferson Community College, Kentucky. Sixty-three ideas are presented for faculty use in dealing with retention/attrition. The 63 ideas are subdivided into four general categories.

Faculty/Student Interaction

This category contains elements directly related to the affective domain of student growth brought about by faculty/student interaction. Psych, ego, individual worth are all intricately bound within this framework.

1. Learn the name of each student as quickly as possible and use the student's name in class. Based upon the atmosphere you want to create:
a. Call on students by their first names.
b. Call on students by using Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms.

2. Tell the students by what name and title you prefer to be called (Prof., Dr., Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms, First Name).

3. At the end of each class period, ask one student to stay for a minute to chat (compliment on something: tell student you missed him/her if absent, etc.).

4. Instead of returning tests, quizzed, themes in class, ask students to stop by your office to pick them up. This presents an opportunity to talk informally with students.

5. Call students on the telephone if they are absent. Make an appointment with them to discuss attendance, make-up work, etc.

6. Get feedback periodically from students (perhaps a select few) on their perceptions of your attitudes toward them, your personal involvement, etc.

7. Socialize with students as your "style" permits by attending their clubs or social activities, by having lunch with them, by walking with them between classes, etc.

8. Conduct a personal interview with all students sometime during the semester.

9. Provide positive reinforcement whenever possible; give students a respectful answer to any question they might ask.

10. Listen intently to students' comments and opinions. By using a "lateral thinking technique" (adding to ideas rather than dismissing them), students feel that their ideas, comments, and opinions are worthwhile.

11. Be aware of the difference between students' classroom mistakes and their personal successes/failures.

12. Be honest about your feelings, opinions, and attitudes toward students and toward the subject matter. Don't be afraid to admit that you don't know all the answers. If a student tells you something in confidence, respect that confidence. Avoid making value judgments (verbally or non-verbally) about these confidences.

13. Lend some of your books (reference) to students and borrow some of theirs in return. You can initiate the process by saying, "I've just read a great book on _______, would anyone like to borrow it?"

14. Give your telephone number to students and the location of your office.

15. A first class meeting, pair up the students and have them get acquainted with one another. Switch partners every five (5) minutes.

16. Have the students establish a "buddy" system for absences, work missed, assignments, tutoring etc. Exchange telephone numbers; pair them by majors or geographical proximity.

General Classroom Management

This section focuses literally on the day-to-day operations of your classes. The items as a group emphasize planning, orderliness, and general good sense.

1. Circulate around the class as you talk or ask questions. This movement creates a physical closeness to the students. Avoid standing behind the lectern or sitting behind the desk for the entire period. Do not allow the classroom to set up artificial barriers between you and the students.

2. Give each student a mid-term grade and indicate what each student must do to improve.

3. Tell the students (orally and in writing) what your attendance policy is. Make them aware of your deep concern for attendance and remind them periodically of the policy and the concern.

4. Conduct a full instructional period on the first day of classes. This activity sets a positive tone for the learning environment you want to set. Engage in some of the interpersonal activities listed elsewhere.

5. List and discuss your course objectives on the first day. Let students know how your course can fit in with their personal/career goals. Discuss some of the fears, apprehensions that both you and the students have. Tell them what they should expect of you and how you will contribute to their learning.

6. Let students know that the learning resources you use in class (slides, tapes, films) are available to them outside of class. Explain the procedures to secure the material, and take them to the area.

7. Have students fill out an index card with name, address, telephone number, goals, and other personal information you think is important.

8. If the subject matter is appropriate, use a pre-test to determine their knowledge, background, expertise, etc.

9. Return tests, quizzes, and papers as soon as possible. Write comments (+ and -) when appropriate.

10. Vary your instructional techniques (lecture, discussion, debate, small groups, films, etc.).

11. When you answer a student's question, be sure he/she understands your answer. Make the student repeat the answer in his/her own words.

12. Get to class before the students arrive; be the last one to leave.

13. Use familiar examples in presenting materials. If you teach rules, principles, definitions, and theorems, explicate these with concrete examples that students can understand.

14. If you had to miss a class, explain why and what you will do to make up the time and/or materials.

15. Clarify and have students understand what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior in a classroom. Be consistent in enforcing your rules.

16. Good eye contact with students is extremely important both in and out of class.

17. Allow students to switch classes if work schedules changes or other salient reasons develop. Cooperate with colleague if he/she makes such a request.

18. Be prepared to use an alternate approach if the one you've chosen seems to bog down. You should be confident enough with your own material so that student interests and concerns, not lecture notes, determine the format of instruction.

19. Throughout the course, but particularly during the crucial first class sessions:

a. stress a positive "you can handle it" attitude
b. emphasize your willingness to give individual help
c. point out the relevancy of your subject matter to the concerns and goals of your students
d. capitalize on opportunities to praise the abilities and contributions of students whose status in the course is in doubt; well-timed encouragement could mean the difference between retention and attrition
e. utilize a variety of instructional methods, drawing on appropriate audio-visual aids as much as possible
f. urge students to talk to you about problems, such as changes in work schedule, before dropping your course. Alternate arrangements can often be made.

20. Distribute an outline of your lecture notes before class starts. This approach assists students in organizing the material you are presenting.

21. If you require a term paper or research paper, you should take the responsibility of arranging a library orientation. Librarians would be happy to cooperate.

22. Have the counselors visit your classes to foster an awareness of counseling.

Student-Initiated Activities

This category is based on the premise that peer influence can play a substantial role in student success. Age differences, personality differences, and skill differences can be utilized to produce positive results if you can get the students to work with one another.

1. Have students read one another's papers before they turn them in. This activity could help them locate one another's errors before being graded.

2. If the class lends itself to a field trip, have the students plan it and make some or all of the arrangements.

3. Ask students to submit sample test questions (objective or subjective) prior to a test. The class itself can compose a test or quiz based on your objectives.

4. Create opportunities for student leaders to emerge in class. Use their leadership skills to improve student performance.

5. If students are receiving tutoring help, ask them to report the content and results of their tutoring.

6. Have students set specific goals for themselves throughout the semester in terms of their learning and what responsibilities they will undertake.

Faculty-Initiated Activities

This section presents the greatest challenge to the ability and creativity of each faculty member. You must take the initiative to implement these suggestions, to test them, and to device them.

1. Utilize small group discussions in class whenever feasible.

2. Take the initiative to contact and meet with students who are doing poor work. Be especially cognizant of the "passive" student, one who comes to class, sits quietly, does not participate, but does poorly on tests, quizzes, etc.

3. Encourage students who had the first part of a course to be in the second part together. Try to schedule the same time slot for the second course.

4. Ask the Reading faculty to do a "readability study" of the texts you use in your classroom.

5. Develop library/supplementary reading lists which complement course content. Select books at various reading levels.

6. Use your background, experience, and knowledge to inter-relate your subject matter with other academic disciplines.

7. Throughout the semester, have students submit topics that they would like to cover or discuss.

8. Take students on a mini-tour of the learning resources center, reading/study skills area, counseling center, etc. If a particular student needs reading/study skills help, don't send him/her, TAKE him/her.

9. Work with your division counselor to discuss procedures to follow-up absentees, failing students,etc.

10. Use your imagination to devise ways to reinforce positively student accomplishments. Try to avoid placing students in embarrassing situations, particularly in class.

11. Create situations in which students can help you (get a book for you from library, look up some reference material, conduct a class research project).

12. Set up special tutoring sessions and extra classes. Make these activities mandatory, especially for students who are doing poorly.

13. Confer with other faculty members who have the same students in class. Help reinforce one another.

14. Look at your record book periodically to determine student progress (inform them) and determine if you know anything about that student other than his/her grades.

15. Team teach a class with a colleague or switch classes for a period or two. Invite a guest lecturer to class.

16. Use the library reference shelf for some of your old tests and quizzes. Tell the students that you will use some questions from the old tests in their next test.

17. Engage in periodic (weekly) self-evaluation of each class. What was accomplished this past week? How did students react?

18. At mid-term and at final exam, your last test question should ask if a student is going to continue at the college or drop out at the end of the semester. If a potential drop-out is identified, you can advise the student to work with the division counselor.


By Barbara Gross Davis, University of California, Berkeley.
From Tools for Teaching, copyright by Jossey-Bass. For purchase or reprint information,
contact Jossey-Bass. Reprinted here with permission, September 1, 1999.


Some students seem naturally enthusiastic about learning, but many need-or expect-their instructors to inspire, challenge, and stimulate them: "Effective learning in the classroom depends on the teacher's ability ... to maintain the interest that brought students to the course in the first place" (Ericksen, 1978, p. 3). Whatever level of motivation your students bring to the classroom will be transformed, for better or worse, by what happens in that classroom.

Unfortunately, there is no single magical formula for motivating students. Many factors affect a given student's motivation to work and to learn (Bligh, 1971; Sass, 1989): interest in the subject matter, perception of its usefulness, general desire to achieve, self-confidence and self-esteem, as well as patience and persistence. And, of course, not all students are motivated by the same values, needs, desires, or wants. Some of your students will be motivated by the approval of others, some by overcoming challenges.

Researchers have begun to identify those aspects of the teaching situation that enhance students' selfmotivation (Lowman, 1984; Lucas, 1990; Weinert and Kluwe, 1987; Bligh, 1971). To encourage students to become self-motivated independent learners, instructors can do the following:

  • Give frequent, early, positive feedback that supports students' beliefs that they can do well.

  • Ensure opportunities for students' success by assigning tasks that are neither too easy nor too difficult.

  • Help students find personal meaning and value in the material.

  • Create an atmosphere that is open and positive.

  • Help students feel that they are valued members of a learning community.
Research has also shown that good everyday teaching practices can do more to counter student apathy than special efforts to attack motivation directly (Ericksen, 1978). Most students respond positively to a well-organized course taught by an enthusiastic instructor who has a genuine interest in students and what they learn. Thus activities you undertake to promote learning will also enhance students' motivation.

General Strategies

Capitalize on students' existing needs. Students learn best when incentives for learning in a classroom satisfy their own motives for enrolling in the course. Some of the needs your students may bring to the classroom are the need to learn something in order to complete a particular task or activity, the need to seek new experiences, the need to perfect skills, the need to overcome challenges, the need to become competent, the need to succeed and do well, the need to feel involved and to interact with other people. Satisfying such needs is rewarding in itself, and such rewards sustain learning more effectively than do grades. Design assignments, in-class activities, and discussion questions to address these kinds of needs. (Source: McMillan and Forsyth, 1991)

Make students active participants in learning. Students learn by doing, making, writing, designing, creating, solving. Passivity dampens students' motivation and curiosity. Pose questions. Don't tell students something when you can ask them. Encourage students to suggest approaches to a problem or to guess the results of an experiment. Use small group work. See "Leading a Discussion," "Supplements and Alternatives to Lecturing," and "Collaborative Learning" for methods that stress active participation. (Source: Lucas, 1990)

Ask students to analyze what makes their classes more or less "motivating." Sass (1989) asks his classes to recall two recent class periods, one in which they were highly motivated and one in which their motivation was low. Each student makes a list of specific aspects of the two classes that influenced his or her level of motivation, and students then meet in small groups to reach consensus on characteristics that contribute to high and low motivation. In over twenty courses, Sass reports, the same eight characteristics emerge as major contributors to student motivation:

  • Instructor's enthusiasm

  • Relevance of the material

  • Organization of the course

  • Appropriate difficulty level of the material

  • Active involvement of students

  • Variety

  • Rapport between teacher and students

  • Use of appropriate, concrete, and understandable examples

Incorporating Instructional Behaviors That Motivate Students

Hold high but realistic expectations for your students. Research has shown that a teacher's expectations have a powerful effect on a student's performance. If you act as though you expect your students to be motivated, hardworking, and interested in the course, they are more likely to be so. Set realistic expectations for students when you make assignments, give presentations, conduct discussions, and grade examinations. "Realistic" in this context means that your standards are high enough to motivate students to do their best work but not so high that students will inevitably be frustrated in trying to meet those expectations. To develop the drive to achieve, students need to believe that achievement is possible -which means that you need to provide early opportunities for success. (Sources: American Psychological Association, 1992; Bligh, 1971; Forsyth and McMillan, 1991 -1 Lowman, 1984)

Help students set achievable goals for themselves. Failure to attain unrealistic goals can disappoint and frustrate students. Encourage students to focus on their continued improvement, not just on their grade on any one test or assignment. Help students evaluate their progress by encouraging them to critique their own work, analyze their strengths, and work on their weaknesses. For example, consider asking students to submit self-evaluation forms with one or two assignments. (Sources: Cashin, 1979; Forsyth and McMillan, 1991)

Tell students what they need to do to succeed in your course. Don't let your students struggle to figure out what is expected of them. Reassure students that they can do well in your course, and tell them exactly what they must do to succeed. Say something to the effect that "If you can handle the examples on these problem sheets, you can pass the exam. People who have trouble with these examples can ask me for extra help." Or instead of saying, "You're way behind," tell the student, "Here is one way you could go about learning the material. How can I help you?" (Sources: Cashin, 1979; Tiberius, 1990)

Strengthen students' self-motivation. Avoid messages that reinforce your power as an instructor or that emphasize extrinsic rewards. Instead of saying, "I require," "you must," or "you should," stress "I think you will find. . . " or "I will be interested in your reaction." (Source: Lowman, 1990)

Avoid creating intense competition among students. Competition produces anxiety, which can interfere with learning. Reduce students' tendencies to compare themselves to one another. Bligh (1971) reports that students are more attentive, display better comprehension, produce more work, and are more favorable to the teaching method when they work cooperatively in groups rather than compete as individuals. Refrain from public criticisms of students' performance and from comments or activities that pit students against each other. (Sources: Eble, 1988; Forsyth and McMillan, 1991)

Be enthusiastic about your subject. An instructor's enthusiasm is a crucial factor in student motivation. If you become bored or apathetic, students will too. Typically, an instructor's enthusiasm comes from confidence, excitement about the content, and genuine pleasure in teaching. If you find yourself uninterested in the material, think back to what attracted you to the field and bring those aspects of the subject matter to life for your students. Or challenge yourself to devise the most exciting way topresent the material, however dull the material itself may seem to you.

Structuring the Course to Motivate Students

Work from students' strengths and interests. Find out why students are enrolled in your course, how they feel about the subject matter, and what their expectations are. Then try to devise examples, case studies, or assignments that relate the course content to students' interests and experiences. For instance, a chemistry professor might devote some lecture time to examining the contributions of chemistry to resolving environmental problems. Explain how the content and objectives of your course will help students achieve their educational, professional, or personal goals. (Sources: Brock, 1976; Cashin, 1979; Lucas, 1990)

When possible, let students have some say in choosing what will be studied. Give students options on term papers or other assignments (but not on tests). Let students decide between two locations for the field trip, or have them select which topics to explore in greater depth. If possible, include optional or alternative units in the course. (Sources: Ames and Ames, 1990; Cashin, 1979; Forsyth and McMillan, 1991; Lowman, 1984)

Increase the difficulty of the material as the semester progresses. Give students opportunities to succeed at the beginning of the semester. Once students feel they can succeed, you can gradually increase the difficulty level. If assignments and exams include easier and harder questions, every student will have a chance to experience success as well as challenge. (Source: Cashin, 1979)

Vary your teaching methods. Variety reawakens students' involvement in the course and their motivation. Break the routine by incorporating a variety of teaching activities and methods in your course: role playing, debates, brainstorming, discussion, demonstrations, case studies, audiovisual presentations, guest speakers, or small group work. (Source: Forsyth and McMillan, 1991)

De-emphasizing Grades

Emphasize mastery and learning rather than grades. Ames and Ames (1990) report on two secondary school math teachers. One teacher graded every homework assignment and counted homework as 30 percent of a student's final grade. The second teacher told students to spend a fixed amount of time on their homework (thirty minutes a night) and to bring questions to class about problems they could not complete. This teacher graded homework as satisfactory or unsatisfactory, gave students the opportunity to redo their assignments, and counted homework as 10 percent of the final grade. Although homework was a smaller part of the course grade, this second teacher was more successful in motivating students to turn in their homework. In the first class, some students gave up rather than risk low evaluations of their abilities. In the second class, students were not risking their selfworth each time they did their homework but rather were attempting to learn. Mistakes were viewed as acceptable and something to learn from.

Researchers recommend de-emphasizing grading by eliminating complex systems of credit points; they also advise against trying to use grades to control nonacademic behavior (for example, lowering grades for missed classes) (Forsyth and McMillan, 1991; Lowman 1990). Instead, assign ungraded written work, stress the personal satisfaction of doing assignments, and help students measure their progress.

Design tests that encourage the kind of learning you want students to achieve. Many students will learn whatever is necessary to get the grades they desire. If you base your tests on memorizing details, students will focus on memorizing facts. If your tests stress the synthesis and evaluation of information, students will be motivated to practice those skills when they study. (Source: McKeachie, 1986)

Avoid using grades as threats. As McKeachie (1986) points out, the threat of low grades may prompt some students to work hard, but other students may resort to academic dishonesty, excuses for late work, and other counterproductive behavior.

Motivating Students by Responding to Their Work

Give students feedback as quickly as possible. Return tests and papers promptly, and reward success publicly and immediately. Give students some indication of how well they have done and how to improve. Rewards can be as simple as saying a student's response was good, with an indication of why it was good, or mentioning the names of contributors: "Cherry's point about pollution really synthesized the ideas we had been discussing." (Source: Cashin, 1979)

Reward success. Both positive and negative comments influence motivation, but research consistently indicates that students are more affected by positive feedback and success. Praise builds students' selfconfidence, competence, and self-esteem. Recognize sincere efforts even if the product is less than stellar. If a student's performance is weak, let the student know that you believe he or she can improve and succeed over time. (Sources: Cashin, 1979; Lucas, 1990)

Introduce students to the good work done by their peers. Share the ideas, knowledge, and accomplishments of individual students with the class as a whole:

  • Pass out a list of research topics chosen by students so they will know whether others are writing papers of interest to them.

  • Make available copies of the best papers and essay exams.

  •  Provide class time for students to read papers or assignments submitted by classmates.

  •  Have students write a brief critique of a classmate's paper.

  • Schedule a brief talk by a student who has experience or who is doing a research paper on a topic relevant to your lecture.

Be specific when giving negative feedback. Negative feedback is very powerful and can lead to a negative class atmosphere. Whenever you identify a student's weakness, make it clear that your comments relate to a particular task or performance, not to the student as a person. Try to cushion negative comments with a compliment about aspects of the task in which the student succeeded. (Source: Cashin, 1979)

Avoid demeaning comments. Many students in your class may be anxious about their performance and abilities. Be sensitive to how you phrase your comments and avoid offhand remarks that might prick their feelings of inadequacy.

Avoid giving in to students' pleas for "the answer" to homework problems. When you simply give struggling students the solution, you rob them of the chance to think for themselves. Use a more productive approach (adapted from Fiore, 1985):

  • Ask the students for one possible approach to the problem.

  • Gently brush aside students’ anxiety about not getting the answer by refocusing their attention on the problem at hand.

  •  Ask the students to build on what they do know about the problem.

  • Resist answering the question "is this right?" Suggest to the students a way to check the answer for themselves.

  •  Praise the students for small, independent steps.

If you follow these steps, your students will learn that it is all right not to have an instant answer. They will also learn to develop greater patience and to work at their own pace. And by working through the problem, students will experience a sense of achievement and confidence that will increase their motivation to learn.

Motivating Students to Do the Reading

Assign the reading at least two sessions before it will be discussed. Give students ample time to prepare and try to pique their curiosity about the reading: "This article is one of my favorites, and I'll be interested to see what you think about it." (Sources: Lowman, 1984; "When They Don't Do the Reading," 1989)

Assign study questions. Hand out study questions that alert students to the key points of the reading assignment. To provide extra incentive for students, tell them you will base exam questions on the study questions. (Source: "When They Don't Do the Reading," 1989)

If your class is small, have students turn in brief notes on the day's reading that they can use during exams. At the start of each class, a professor in the physical sciences asks students to submit a 3" x 5" card with an outline, definitions, key ideas, or other material from the day's assigned reading. After class, he checks the cards and stamps them with his name. He returns the cards to students at a class session prior to the midterm. Students can then add any material they would like to the cards but cannot submit additional cards. The cards are again returned to the faculty member who distributes them to students during the test. This faculty member reports that the number of students completing the reading jumped from 10 percent to 90 percent and that students especially valued these "survival cards." Source: Daniel, 1988)

Ask students to write a one-word journal or one-word sentence. Angelo (1991) describes the oneword journal as follows: students are asked to choose a single word that best summarizes the reading and then write a page or less explaining or justifying their word choice. This assignment can then be used as a basis for class discussion. A variation reported by Erickson and Strommer (199 1) is to ask students to write one complex sentence in answer to a question you pose about the readings and provide three sources of supporting evidence: "In one sentence, identify the type of ethical reasoning Singer uses in his article 'Famine, Affluence, and Morality.' Quote three passages that reveal this type of ethical reasoning" (p. 125).

Ask nonthreatening questions about the reading. Initially pose general questions that do not create tension or feelings of resistance: "Can you give me one or two items from the chapter that seem important?" "What section of the reading do you think we should review?" "What item in the reading surprised you?" "What topics in the chapter can you apply to your own experience?" (Source: "When They Don't Do the Reading," 1989)

Use class time as a reading period. If you are trying to lead a discussion and find that few students have completed the reading assignment, consider asking students to read the material for the remainder of class time. Have them read silently or call on students to read aloud and discuss the key points. Make it clear to students that you are reluctantly taking this unusual step because they have not completed the assignment.

Prepare an exam question on undiscussed readings. One faculty member asks her class whether they have done the reading. If the answer is no, she says, "You'll have to read the material on your own. Expect a question on the next exam covering the reading." The next time she assigns reading, she reminds the class of what happened the last time, and the students come to class prepared. (Source: "When They Don't Do the Reading," 1989)

Give a written assignment to those students who have not done the reading. Some faculty ask at the beginning of the class who has completed the reading. Students who have not read the material are given a written assignment and dismissed. Those who have read the material stay and participate in class discussion. The written assignment is not graded but merely acknowledged. This technique should not be used more than once a term. (Source: "When They Don't Do the Reading," 1989)


American Psychological Association. Learner-Centered Psychological Principles: Guidelines for School Redesign and Reform. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 1992.

Ames, R., and Ames, C. "Motivation and Effective Teaching." In B. F. Jones and L. Idol (eds.),

Dimensions of Thinking and Cognitive Instruction. Hillsdale, N. J.: ErIbaum, 1990.

Angelo, T. A. "Ten Easy Pieces: Assessing Higher Learning in Four Dimensions." In T. A. Angelo (ed.), Classroom Research: Early Lessons from Success. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, no. 46. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1991.

Bligh, D. A. What's the Use of Lecturing? Devon, England: Teaching Services Centre, University of Exeter, 1971.

Brock, S. C. Practitioners' Views on Teaching the Large Introductory College Course. Manhattan: Center for Faculty Evaluation and Development, Kansas State University, 1976.

Cashin, W. E. "Motivating Students." Idea Paper, no. 1. Manhattan: Center for Faculty Evaluation and Development in Higher Education, Kansas State University, 1979.

Daniel, J. W. "Survival Cards in Math." College Teaching, 1988, 36(3), 110.

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Ericksen, S. C. "The Lecture." Memo to the Faculty, no. 60. Ann Arbor: Center for Research on Teaching and Learning, University of Michigan, 1978.

Erickson, B. L., and Strommer, D. W. Teaching College Freshmen. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1991.

Fiore, N. "On Not Doing a Student's Homework." Chemistry TA Handbook. Berkeley: Chemistry Department, University of California, 1985.

Forsyth, D. R., and McMillan, J. H. "Practical Proposals for Motivating Students." In R. J. Menges and M. D. Svinicki (eds.), College Teaching: From Theory to Practice. New Directions in Teaching and Learning, no. 45. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1991.

Lowman, J. Mastering the Techniques of Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1984.

Lowman, J. "Promoting Motivation and Learning." College Teaching, 1990, 38(4), 136-39.

Lucas, A. F. "Using Psychological Models to Understand Student Motivation." In M. D. Svinicki (ed.), The Changing Face of College Teaching. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, no. 42. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1990.

McKeachie, W. J. Teaching Tips. (8th ed.) Lexington, Mass.: Heath, 1986.

McMillan, J. H., and Forsyth, D. R. "What Theories of Motivation Say About Why Learners Learn." In R. J. Menges and M. D. Svinicki (eds.), College Teaching: From Theory to Practice. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, no. 45. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1991.

Sass, E. J. "Motivation in the College Classroom: What Students Tell Us." Teaching of Psychology, 1989, 16(2), 86-88.

Tiberius, R. G. Small Group Teaching: A Trouble-Shooting Guide. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education Press, 1990.

Weinert, F. E., and Kluwe, R. H. Metacognition, Motivation and Understanding. Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum, 1987.

"When They Don't Do the Reading." Teaching Professor, 1989, 3(10), 3-4.



Accurately assessing your students' developmental state can direct your planning and impel your teaching. For instance, recognizing a 16-year-old's concern about his appearance and his standing among his peers may promote your rapport with him and eliminate learning barriers.

Keep in mind that chronologic age and developmental stage are not always related. Throughout life, people move sequentially through developmental stages, but most people also fluctuate somewhat among stages, often in response to outside stressors. These stressors can cause a person to regress temporarily to an earlier stage. Sometimes a person may not achieve the task expected of his chronologic age. So you will need to address your students at their current developmental stages, not at the stages at which you would expect them to be because of their chronological ages.

In some situations, hopefully most, you will have time to sit down and develop a formal teaching plan. In others, you will be confronted with a "teachable moment" when the student is ready to learn and is asking pointed questions. Invariably, these moments seem to come at the most inopportune times. At times like these, you face the dilemma: to teach or not to teach. Having a knowledge of basic learning principles will help you take best advantage of these moments. Here are some principles proven to enhance teaching and learning.

Seize the moment

Teaching is most effective when it occurs in quick response to a need the learner feels. So even though you are elbow deep in something else, you should make every effort to teach the student when he or she asks. The student is ready to learn. Satisfy that immediate need for information now, and augment your teaching with more information later.

Involve the student in planning

Just presenting information to the student does not ensure learning. For learning to occur, you will need to get the student involved in identifying his learning needs and outcomes. Help him to develop attainable objectives. As the teaching process continues, you can further engage him or her by selecting teaching strategies and materials that require the student's direct involvement, such as role playing and return demonstration. Regardless of the teaching strategy you choose, giving the student the chance to test his or her ideas, to take risks, and to be creative will promote learning.

Begin with what the student knows

You will find that learning moves faster when it builds on what the student already knows. Teaching that begins by comparing the old, known information or process and the new, unknown one allows the student to grasp new information more quickly.

Move from simple to complex

The student will find learning more rewarding if he has the opportunity to master simple concepts first and then apply these concepts to more complex ones. Remember, however, that what one student finds simple, another may find complex. A careful assessment takes these differences into account and helps you plan the teaching starting point.

Accommodate the student's preferred learning style

How quickly and well a student learns depends not only on his or her intelligence and prior education, but also on the student's learning style preference. Visual learners gain knowledge best by seeing or reading what you are trying to teach; auditory learners, by listening;and tactile or psychomotor learners, by doing.

You can improve your chances for teaching success if you assess your patient's preferred learning style, then plan teaching activities and use teaching tools appropriate to that style. To assess a student's learning style, observe the student, administer a learning style inventory, or simply ask the student how he or she learns best.

You can also experiment with different teaching tools, such as printed material, illustrations, videotapes, and actual equipment, to assess learning style. Never assume, though, that your student can read well -- or even read at all.

Sort goals by learning domain

You can combine your knowledge of the student's preferred learning style with your knowledge of learning domains. Categorizing what the students need to learn into proper domains helps identify and evaluate the behaviors you expect them to show.

Learning behaviors fall in three domains: cognitive, psychomotor, and affective. The cognitive domain deals with intellectual abilities. The psychomotor domain includes physical or motor skills. The affective domain involves expression of feeling about attitudes, interests, and values. Most learning involves all three domains.

Make material meaningful

Another way to facilitate learning is to relate material to the student's lifestyle and to recognize incompatibilities. The more meaningful material is to a student, the quicker and easier it will be learned.

Allow immediate application of knowledge

Giving the student the opportunity to apply his or her new knowledge and skills reinforces learning and builds confidence. This immediate application translates learning to the "real world" and provides an opportunity for problem solving, feedback, and emotional support.

Plan for periodic rests

While you may want the students to push ahead until they have learned everything on the teaching plan, remember that periodic plateaus occur normally in learning. When your instructions are especially complex or lengthy, your students may feel overwhelmed and appear unreceptive to your teaching. Be sure to recognize these signs of mental fatigue and let the students relax. (You too can use these periods - to review your teaching plan and make any necessary adjustments.)

Tell your students how they are progressing

Learning is made easier when the students are aware of their progress. Positive feedback can motivate them to greater effort because it makes their goal seem attainable. Also, ask your students how they feel they are doing. They probably want to take part in assessing their own progress toward learning goals, and their input can guide your feedback. You will find their reactions are usually based on what "feels right."

Reward desired learning with praise

Praising desired learning outcomes or behavior improves the chances that the students will retain the material or repeat the behavior. Praising your students' successes associates the desired learning goal with a sense of growing and accepted competence. Reassuring them that they have learned the desired material or technique can help them retain and refine it.


From "Getting the Most out of Your AIDS/HIV Trainings"

East Bay AIDS Education Training Center
Revised from 1989 addition by Pat McCarthy, RN, MSN, 1992
 Flip Charts/Posters


- easy and inexpensive to make and update

- portable and transportable

- left in view of the audience

- good for interaction with the audience


- unsuitable for large groups

- anxiety-provoking for facilitator with poor handwriting or poor spelling



- professional in appearance

- good for large groups


- formal and impersonal

- shown in the dark

- not good for discussion and interaction

- more difficult to update than other visual aids

- require special equipment



- professional in appearance

- good for large or small groups


- more expansive than other visual aids

- requires special equipment

- not good for discussion and interaction

- require accurate cueing

Overhead Transparencies


- good for large gropus

- easy to create
- easy to transport

- provide an informal atmosphere

- open to interaction with groups

- easy to update


- impermanent; they yellow with age

- require less common equipment

Computer Projections (e.g., PowerPoint™)


- professional in appearance

- evidence of preparation

- good for large or small group

- easy to integrate with classroom discussion

- animated

- up-to-date technology

- easy to update


- require special equipment/facilities

- require initial training to create

- require significant time to create

- require basic graphics/composition skills

Samples, Examples, and Mock-Ups


- real-world/authentic

- three dimensional

- sometimes inexpensive and readily available

- experience may be tactile/auditory as well as visual


- sometimes difficult or impossible to acquire

- often difficult to handle or distribute

- require storage space

- usually out of natural environment


From "Getting the Most out of Your AIDS/HIV Trainings"
East Bay AIDS Education Training Center
Revised from 1989 addition by Pat McCarthy, RN, MSN, 1992




- presents factual material in direct, logical manner

- contains experience which inspires

- stimulates thinking to open discussion

- useful for large groups


- experts are not always good teachers

- audience is passive

- learning is difficult to gauge

- communication in one way


- needs clear introduction and summary

- needs time and content limit to be effective

- should include examples, anecdotes

Lecture With Discussion


- involves audience at least after the lecture

- audience can question, clarify & challenge


- time may limit discussion period

- quality is limited to quality of questions and discussion


- requires that questions be prepared prior to discussion

Panel of Experts


- allows experts to present different opinions

- can provoke better discussion than a one person discussion

- frequent change of speaker keeps attention from lagging


- experts may not be good speakers- personalities may overshadow content

- subject may not be in logical order


- facilitator coordinates focus of panel, introduces and summarizes

- briefs panel



- listening exercise that allows creative thinking for new ideas

- encourages full participation because all ideas equally recorded

- draws on group's knowledge and experience

- spirit of congeniality is created

- one idea can spark off other other ideas


- can be unfocused

- needs to be limited to 5 - 7 minutes

- people may have difficulty getting away from known reality

- if not facilitated well, criticism and evaluation may occur


- facilitator selects issue

- must have some ideas if group needs to be stimulated



- entertaining way of teaching content and raising issues

- keep group's attention

- looks professional

- stimulates discussion


- can raise too many issues to have a focused discussion

- discussion may not have full participation

- only as effective as following discussion


- need to set up equipment

- effective only if facilitator prepares questions to discuss after the show

Class Discussion


- pools ideas and experiences from group

- effective after a presentation, film or experience that needs to be analyzed

- allows everyone to participate in an active process

- not practical with more that 20 people

- few people can dominate

- others may not participate

- is time consuming

- can get off the track


- requires careful planning by facilitator to guide discussion

- requires question outline

Small Group Discussion


- allows participation of everyone

- people often more comfortable in small groups

- can reach group consensus


- needs careful thought as to purpose of group

- groups may get side tracked


- needs to prepare specific tasks or questions for group to answer

Case Studies


- develops analytic and problem solving skills

- allows for exploration of solutions for complex issues

- allows student to apply new knowledge and skills


- people may not see relevance to own situation

- insufficient information can lead to inappropriate results


- case must be clearly defined in some cases

- case study must be prepared

Role Playing


- introduces problem situation dramatically

- provides opportunity for people to assume roles of others and thus appreciate another point of view

- allows for exploration of solutions

- provides opportunity to practice skills

- people may be too self-conscious

- not appropriate for large groups

- people may feel threatened


- trainer has to define problem situation and roles clearly

- trainer must give very clear instructions

Report-Back Sessions


- allows for large group discussion of role plays, case studies, and small group exercise

- gives people a chance to reflect on experience

- each group takes responsibility for its operation


- can be repetitive if each small group says the same thing


- trainer has to prepare questions for groups to discuss



- allows people to thing for themselves without being influences by others

- individual thoughts can then be shared in large group


- can be used only for short period of time


- facilitator has to prepare handouts

Index Card Exercise


- opportunity to explore difficult and complex issues


- people may not do exercise


- facilitator must prepare questions

Guest Speaker


- personalizes topic
- breaks down audience's stereotypes


- may not be a good speaker


- contact speakers and coordinate

- introduce speaker appropriately

Values Clarification Exercise


- opportunity to explore values and beliefs

- allows people to discuss values in a safe environment

- gives structure to discussion


- people may not be honest

- people may be too self-conscious


- facilitator must carefully prepare exercise

- must give clear instructions

- facilitator must prepare discussion questions

Code of Ethics for Teachers as Educators

Practicum in Language, LANE 462, 2010.

Code of Ethics for Teachers as Educators

Statement of Purpose

The Code of Ethics is a public statement by educators that sets clear expectations and principles to guide practice and inspire professional excellence. Educators believe a commonly held set of principles can assist in the individual exercise of professional judgment. This Code speaks to the core values of the profession. “Educator” as used throughout means all educators serving New York schools in positions requiring a certificate, including classroom teachers, school leaders and pupil personnel service providers.

Principle 1:

Educators nurture the intellectual, physical, emotional, social, and civic potential of each student.

Educators promote growth in all students through the integration of intellectual, physical, emotional, social and civic learning. They respect the inherent dignity and worth of each individual. Educators help students to value their own identity, learn more about their cultural heritage, and practice social and civic responsibilities. They help students to reflect on their own learning and connect it to their life experience. They engage students in activities that encourage diverse approaches and solutions to issues, while providing a range of ways for students to demonstrate their abilities and learning. They foster the development of students who can analyze, synthesize, evaluate and communicate information effectively.

Principle 2:

 Educators create, support, and maintain challenging learning environments for all.

 Educators apply their professional knowledge to promote student learning. They know the curriculum and utilize a range of strategies and assessments to address differences. Educators develop and implement programs based upon a strong understanding of human development and learning theory. They support a challenging learning environment. They advocate for necessary resources to teach to higher levels of learning. They establish and maintain clear standards of behavior and civility. Educators are role models, displaying the habits of mind and work necessary to develop and apply knowledge while simultaneously displaying a curiosity and enthusiasm for learning. They invite students to become active, inquisitive, and discerning individuals who reflect upon and monitor their own learning.

Principle 3:

 Educators commit to their own learning in order to develop their practice.

 Educators recognize that professional knowledge and development are the foundations of their practice. They know their subject matter, and they understand how students learn. Educators respect the reciprocal nature of learning between educators and students. They engage in a variety of individual and collaborative learning experiences essential to develop professionally and to promote student learning. They draw on and contribute to various forms of educational research to improve their own practice.

Principle 4:

 Educators collaborate with colleagues and other professionals in the interest of student learning.

Educators encourage and support their colleagues to build and maintain high standards. They participate in decisions regarding curriculum, instruction and assessment designs, and they share responsibility for the governance of schools. They cooperate with community agencies in using resources and building comprehensive services in support of students. Educators respect fellow professionals and believe that all have the right to teach and learn in a professional and supportive environment. They participate in the preparation and induction of new educators and in professional development for all staff.

Principle 5:

 Educators collaborate with parents and community, building trust and respecting confidentiality.

 Educators partner with parents and other members of the community to enhance school programs and to promote student learning. They also recognize how cultural and linguistic heritage, gender, family and community shape experience and learning. Educators respect the private nature of the special knowledge they have about students and their families and use that knowledge only in the students’ best interests. They advocate for fair opportunity for all children.

Principle 6:

 Educators advance the intellectual and ethical foundation of the learning community.

Educators recognize the obligations of the trust placed in them. They share the responsibility for understanding what is known, pursuing further knowledge, contributing to the generation of knowledge, and translating knowledge into comprehensible forms. They help students understand that knowledge is often complex and sometimes paradoxical. Educators are confidantes, mentors and advocates for their students’ growth and development. As models for youth and the public, they embody intellectual honesty, diplomacy, tact and fairness.