Motivation for Achievement: Possibilities for Teaching and Learning

By M. Kay Alderman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
Promoting Optimal
Motivation and Engagement:
Social Context

One of the greatest tasks of teachers is to help students learn how to be recipients of care. Those who have not learned to do this by the time they have entered school are at great risk and their risk is not just academic.

—Noddings (1992, p. 108)

Classroom learning and motivation are inherently embedded in a social context (Corno & Rohrkemper, 1985). Classrooms are composed of a teacher and individual students who are likely to be diverse in many ways (e.g., ethnicity, gender, ability, SES, skills of self-regulation, goals, interests, and special needs). Instructional groups are of varying sizes: whole group, small groups ranging from informal to well-planned cooperative learning groups, partners on the computer, and teams on the playground. Additionally, informal interactions such as students talking to each other, teasing, name calling, and comparing work are ongoing. In all cases, teachers are continually interacting both with individuals and groups of students. What is the relationship between social context and optimal student motivation and engagement?Social interactions influence motivation in a number of ways, both positive and negative. Social context has been found to influence classroom engagement, academic effort, and subsequent success and failure at all levels of schooling. Social context was identified as a factor in the following situations:
reduction of drop-out rate in secondary schools (Wehlage, Rutter, Smith, Lesko, & Fernandez, 1989),

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