Friday, February 29, 2008

How to motivate students for studies?

There is article in New York Times on URL:
The title of the article is "For ‘A’ Students in Some Brooklyn Schools, a Cellphone and 130 Free Minutes".

It discusses a fact, that, whether this incentive of s.m.s. for students scoring "A" grade i.e. higher marks in the examinations, is 'ok' as a motivational tool or not.

Hence, let me put our school of thoughts here.

This is business and emotional blackmail with tender, mouldable and highly creative minds.

I am Professor in Business School. I know both positive and negative sides of s.m.s., m.m.s. and emails and other social networking tools. I must tell you a fact that educational motivation has to be intrinsic phenomenon that extrinsic. This, “A” grade can get reduced to B, then gradually to C, D, F after specific time, in case this free sms plan is long term.

Also, there are other plans possible in case you really want to motivate students. Here are few ways for USA and Indian students:

1. Students who are interested in Science and Technology:
USA students will get a visit on concession or free NASA visit at the end of the year.
Indian students will get a visit on concession or free ISRO visit at the end of the year.

2. Students who are interested in Business: They can go to some organization with prior permission to watch how business or factory or operations run.

3. Students interested in Arts: Will go to National museum or some arts gallery.

4. Students who get A+ consistently: Will get desired books or visit to place any where in the world.

5. Students who are interested in Sports: Will get, a free ticket to finals world cup football, some cricket match, or any sport of their choice. E.g. they will go free to watch 10 NBA matches they wish which are especially on holidays.

There are many/ more positive possibilities.

Also, these visits have other learning side as well. Students will get prepared for the life, work and will be exposed to multi-culture and multi-functional approaches.

When we were students, our teachers encouraged us by creating interest in the subject by various means. They took us to Zoological parks while teaching Zoology, Botanical park while teaching Botany, Chemical factory while teaching Chemistry, Physical Education teacher took us to stadium and played with us, Mathematics teacher told us 10 different methods to solve problems, Physics teacher took us to Science museum to explain some concepts, Sanskrit teacher used to read the whole epical chapter or novel for one small chapter in the class, English teacher used to tell us the whole lesson of Macbeth if a small lesson was based on that chapter, but motivation was intrinsic among students and teachers. Still we all remember the entire chapters they taught us, and we share them. My batch is fortunate to have got such prolific teachers in my Somalwar High School, Ramdaspeth, Nagpur, India. Also during our Engineering our Professor used to take us to labs to understand the technology - theory and practical applications. During our MBA, our Accounts, Finance, Economics teacher made us to watch the Union Budget of India-Live, then we discussed it till night 10 O'clock, thus, improved our understanding about Indian Economy and a lot.

At our time, when we are Teacher/ Professor, after global industrial experience, we also have encouraged students with different methods. We gave them some academic challenges, in turn, students liked those challenges. We have added cases, analytics, story telling, presentations with movie clips, games and role-plays, research article publications, taking part in national and international competition, regular Quiz, one age review on what you studied in the class, application of theory in daily life, relating contrast and culture around the world, full marks to participation in positive activities, helping in different departments, go solo, team is better than solo, mock interview, mock debates, brain-storming, brain-calming, stress interviews and de-stress interviews, go social, corporate social responsibility project, solve the problems, engineering games, management games, express only in tabular forms, achievement oriented analysis of self, keeping them busy, no submission - no lunch, book reviews, HBS Case reviews, Business Reviews, Personality Reviews, Leadership Skills Analysis, Annual Report Analysis, understanding limitations, life is for fun-exercise, life is not for fun-exercise, etc. In fact, academic encouragement must be tackled with academic motivation only, and not extrinsically, which can divert the students from their academic rigor and ethical path, like above case.

Also, education, ethics, values, etiquette, manners, best jobs with higher salaries, motivation to live positive and spirited life, if these entire attributes do not go hand in hand then the present ‘education system’ (around the world) will be in doldrums. If someone thinks ‘it’ is already under threat then it requires complete overhaul. Let us take this challenge seriously before it is too late.

Hence, I clearly see many other possibilities than just Free-SMS incentives as motivational factors for students.

Finally it is one of the biggest challenges around the world, yes, before everyone among us to create an urge to/for studies. Also, it is still more challenging to motivate children for “better academics” in their life. Hence, I would suggest thinking about more options, instead of only s.m.s. or other such addictive and distracting options.

Dr. Ashish Manohar Urkude, India.

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