Student motivation is one of the greatest challenges which educators must face. All levels of education are affected by this issue: Kindergarten teachers must come up with incentives so that the students are actually excited about school, and colleges work hard to raise the rates of graduation by limiting unnecessary credits and through financial aid.

Here are five ideas that educators can apply in almost any classroom setting:

1. Consider Intrinsic Motivation

Fixating on the rewards of finishing school work is easy, great grades, parental and teacher pride and eventually a great future. That being said, due to differences in home lives or personalities, intrinsic motivation is not something that many students are motivated by. An educator who is adaptable is able to redirect to intrinsic motivation. Naturally students work hard in areas that they are interested in, this is why it helps to relate problem areas to subjects which the student excels in, or the subjects to a fun topic.

2. Offer Options

Another way of encouraging productivity is to allow your students to choose how they will complete their assignments. Do not change the topic or length requirement, however give options: an oral presentation, create a website, or write a paper. Students will still learn the information; on top of that they will grow in creativity, independence, and self-confidence.

Tips on Incentivizing Hard Work and Good Behavior in the Classroom

3. Think Small

Over rewarding is something that parents and teachers are often tempted to do. When it comes to young children, a simple thing like a change in seating or a sticker is enough motivation. There have been elementary schools which pass out tickets randomly for exceptional behavior; this has proved to be quite successful. Although at the end of the year these tickets can be traded in for prizes, many times the tickets are what the student’s coveted possessions become.

4. Start with Loss

Studies have shown that most of the times loss is a greater incentive than gain, a child will never miss something they have never had. You could try using a board in which for each failure to complete an assignment or bad behavior, students lose tokens. For older students, it may be more compelling to remove privileges. To make sure you do not become the “punisher,” it is important that you first include privileges which can later be taken away, for example listing to their music as they work or free seating. If teachers have faith in students early on, they encourage then to rise to expectations.

5. Be Quick to Act

It is important to never delay the distribution of rewards. Research has shown that it is important that students who are doing well be immediately praised as well as rewarded. Creating an environment in which achievement is valued is one of the best ways in which you can encourage academic achievement.

These five simple, yet important tips and pointers can make all of the difference in the academic life of students. Although a great challenge, student motivation plays a crucial role in how students will leave their schools and take on the world.