The Motivated Student: Unlocking the Enthusiasm for Learning

The Motivated Student: Unlocking the Enthusiasm for Learning

The Motivated Student: Unlocking the Enthusiasm for Learning

The Motivated Student: Unlocking the Enthusiasm for Learning


Research has shown time and again that the traditional reward-punishment model does nothing to boost student achievement. In The Motivated Student: Unlocking the Enthusiasm for Learning, veteran educator Bob Sullo suggests a different approach: cultivating students' inner drive to learn by addressing their essential psychological needs.

Drawing from in-depth interviews with successful educators, counselors, and administrators and a careful analysis of the research on classroom motivation, Sullo provides an indispensable blueprint for ensuring that students in grades 4-12 are engaged in the classroom. He offers practical, clear-cut strategies for getting students focused and ready to learn by

Eliminating external rewards for learning,

Building positive relationships with students,

Creating realistic expectations for your students,

Developing lesson plans that are relevant to students' lives, and

Planning with students' psychological needs in mind.

As every teacher knows, students learn best when they actually want to learn. Whether at the elementary or high school level, this book will make you think about who your students really are and help you develop a culture of inquiry, trust, and engagement that will release each child's enthusiasm for learning.


In the past quarter-century, we have seen the emergence of numerous “best practices” that have significantly improved curriculum and instruction. A sampling of innovations includes differentiated instruction, Understanding by Design, the emergence of state standards, the development of curriculum frameworks, scope-andsequence charts that inform teachers of what to teach and when to teach it, the expanded use of technology in education, active literacy, curriculum mapping, and the proliferation of professional learning communities. Formative assessment informs instruction like never before. In short, teaching has become significantly more “professional.”

That said, our schools are still in trouble—big trouble. Christopher Swanson, the director of the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, states: “When 30 percent of our ninth-graders (ultimately) fail to finish high school with a diploma, we are dealing with a crisis that has frightening implications for our … future” (Chaddock, 2006). The dropout rate in urban areas is even higher; the situation, even more grim.

What about those who remain in school? In Results Now, Mike Schmoker (2006) reports the following alarming statistic based on 1,500 classroom observations: in 85 percent of the classrooms observed, fewer than half of the students were paying attention!

Despite exemplary innovations in curriculum and instruction, students are dropping out of school at an alarming rate, and many of those who remain don’t seem to be paying attention. How can we explain this discrepancy? Educational advances have focused on . . .

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