The declining motivation of students during the school year
Various studies have shown that the quality of motivation of students usually decreases during a school year. This declined motivation is accompanied by feeling less well and functioning less well (in terms of behavior and grades). Rinat Cohen et al. (2022) investigated the reasons for this declining motivation.
Motivating Styles by Teachers
The researchers looked at whether a change in motivating styles by teachers explained the declining quality of motivation. The reason is that teachers' motivating styles predict the quality of students' motivation. Therefore, they measured changes throughout the year in how students perceived their teachers' motivating styles.
In doing so, they looked at the following four things teachers do that influence student motivation: 1) providing autonomy support, 2) providing structure , 3) controlling (forcing), and 4) chaotic (abandon, leaving students to their own devices). Styles 1 and 2 satisfy the basic psychological needs of students and strengthen their autonomous motivation . Styles 3 and 4 do the opposite.
Research Cohen et al. (2022)
Rinat Cohen et al. (2022) let 472 students (in their first and second year of secondary school) complete questionnaires at the beginning and end of the school year. Students reported their perception of their teachers' motivating styles (ie, autonomy support, structure, control, and chaos), the extent to which their psychological needs were met or frustrated, and their motivation to study.
Results: Students were found to experience a significant decrease during the year in teachers' autonomy-supportive and structure-providing behaviors and in their basic needs satisfaction and autonomous motivation. They experienced their teachers as more chaotic during the year . The change in teacher behavior thus offered an explanation for the declining motivation of students.
Ideas for solutions
Previous research has shown that teachers' motivating styles are predicted by their own quality of motivation. The less the teacher's autonomous motivation, the less this autonomy-supporting and structure-providing behavior shows. Thus, the key to maintaining learners' autonomous motivation may lie in supporting and maintaining teachers' autonomous motivation.
The authors point out the importance of recognizing teachers' emotional challenges and providing opportunities for consultation and consistent support from peers and school management. Using peer support groups can be a good solution. These can give teachers the opportunity to talk openly about problems and feelings and feel supported and come up with ideas for solutions. In addition to this, one can think of autonomy support by managers and support by coaches/psychologists.