As motivation gets humans going, arouses interests and creates the wants to achieve a goal this is considered a crucial tool not only in teaching but also in our daily life. Personally, I have been struggling with this phenomenon in my life and frankly speaking I felt jealous so many times of those who are internally energetic and motivated and this made me more curious to figure out how this works.
As part of my teaching job, I always tried to motivate my students and as well as set myself personal goals. Motivation has long been a global challenge for teachers and education practitioners. Throughout my seven years of teaching experience in different contexts motivation has been a key tool and has had direct effects on students’ productivity and knowledge creation. I have been struggling a lot with this topic at almost every context in my teaching experience and also witnessed the challenge amongst all my colleagues.
Teaching in a military context has never been an easy job for me, I found my classes very challenging dealing with cadets motivation and having this in mind I decided to conduct an action research. Beginning with the research, I went through many blogs, books and articles to go a bit deeper to find out what strategies will work out coping with demotivation challenge of students in a military context. Besides experiencing new things and some weird reactions doing the data collection I found out different factors that make students demotivated in learning process which depends on different situations and environments and students backgrounds.
To understand what factors demotivate my students at Officers Academy, I prepared questionnaires and discussed with 200 hundred cadets. According to respondents, factors such as physical tiredness, family problem, sleeplessness, Commanders punishments, busy daily schedule of school, unhealthy food, breaks among English sessions (one week in a month), large classrooms, were among the top factors respectively.
There are different ways to motivate students. As Ferlazzo & Sypnieski quotes in The ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide” Positive teacher-student relationships, a supportive classroom atmosphere , enhancing student’s sense of autonomy through, providing choices and praising effort , setting goals and many other are the strategies can boost up intrinsic motivation in students. Also, Mark Bain says in one of his action research that strategies such as to promote the learner awareness of the topics values, to make learning more enjoyable by varying the learning tasks, and to make the curriculum more relevant to the leaner by relating the subject matter and the teaching materials to the learners’ experiences and interests make students motivated in the learning process.
I tried to apply some strategies and see how they work in my classroom context. Using visual/colour charts, allowing students to have a “work free” speech session, providing choice/options and using technology. Besides applying these ideas, I chose technology and wanted to apply by making some activities and see the result. I focused on using technology and the result was surprising in my own three classes. Due to less time and other limitations I had in my teaching schedules I created two activities to see the reaction of students and also observe them and what exactly the students do and why they are motivated.
One of the activities I applied was on reading skills in the context of famous people; the activity focuses on reading for gist and details followed by a freer speaking task. Following that students were given a questionnaire about their student reactions. Based on my observation, students were very active, energetic and happy. Based on responses of the questionnaire findings all the students said yes that the lesson was interesting due to the use of technology. The projector, internet and use of the pictures and a video were all factors that made the lesson alive, interesting and fruitful.
· Physical tiredness, family problem , having busy schedules ,sleeplessness , punishments and abuses from their commanders , busy scheduling of the their school, large classes, unhealthy food , breaks among English sessions ( one week in a month) were among the top factors that demotivate students at Officers Academy.
· Giving choices, using technology, rewarding, making the task varied, encouraging students, being friendly and creating a friendly environment classroom, competition, allowing students to earn a “work free” speech session, using more visual materials, making relevant materials considering students interest and needs, giving specific feedback, giving autonomy, increase awareness of the lessons for the students and its values, more fun activities such as games and refreshers were the strategies that are applicable at Officers Academy English classes.