Best Strategies to motivate Students in Mathematics

Mathematics has always been an integral part of a students’ curriculum since the 17th century, and so is mathematical anxiety. Some students have a strong inclination towards mathematics, thanks to their genes or their trait, while some struggle with just the name. However, with powerful teaching, educators can help anxious students overcome the ‘Math fear’ and feel motivated in the subject.


Motivation can be intrinsic or extrinsic and both are equally important for students to pursue their goals.

Intrinsic motivation is being motivated to something for personal satisfaction because the deed itself is rewarding.

Extrinsic motivation is being motivated to earn a reward or abstain oneself from punishment. That is, not doing something out of satisfaction, but to get something in return.     


So, here are the best –intrinsic and extrinsic motivation strategies to encourage a student in Mathematics:


1. Help Students Understand the void in their Knowledge:


It is essential to reveal to the students of the gap in their understanding of the subject. When students themselves understand the void, they get the desire to learn more and fill them.


This can be done by presenting them with some simple exercises followed by some complex ones of the same category. When they successfully do the simple ones but get anxious about the complex exercises, but they do understand that they need to master the basics to grasp the complex one. It is important to avoid belittling students for their failures and instead focus on their strengths and actively guide them in taking small steps in getting the fundamental strong in each chapter. Teachers should be watchful about the student’s behavior and take cues to promote intrinsic motivation.


2. Understanding Accomplishments in order:


A student needs to understand that mathematics is not about completing chapters, but rather understanding the process. This duty solely lies on the teacher who guides them.


Mathematics is learning the sequential concepts; you must learn the A’s, the B’s, and you cannot skip the C’s and jump to D’s. When a student grasps this logical concept, they just do not learn for the sake of learning but get motivated to gather all the knowledge. Also, this is essential for teachers to embrace the fact, while one student can take 5 days to understand the basics, another student might take 15, and that is okay, and one must act patiently especially with those few students who have math’s phobia.


3. Presenting Challenges:


When students are given challenges, they act enthusiastically. All of them, even though there are anxious ones in the crowd. So challenges must be chosen with great care. These are supposed to make them curious and learn more, not to make them more anxious.


For instance, challenges can be set based on exercises recently covered to understand how well they have grasped the basics. This not only acts as a revision but also helps teachers identify which students need more guidance. 


4. Make Students understand practical implementation:


Mugging up formulas for examination may help a student pass for the time being. But would not necessarily evoke interest. Teachers, when starting with a new chapter, must help them understand the practical application of these calculations.


For instance, in schools, we learn about simple interest and compound interest and hardly teachers tell us why it is being taught. When we grow up we understand that EMIs and loan interests are calculated in the same manner. Knowing this back then would be more interesting, and that is where the purpose lies, to make mathematics interesting.


5. Recreational Mathematics:


Education is supposed to be fun and not agonizing. Mathematical games and puzzles are great ways of inducing students' interest in learning more. This does not distract them from the basics and keep them aligned with mathematical thinking.


Mathematics has formulas, and memorizing each can be stressful, especially for a student with mathematical anxiety. But there are tricks to remember these formulas and teaching students how to apply those can help them conquer their subject fear.


6. Sharing stories of real motivation:


History has several relevant stories of mathematical geniuses who excelled in the subject. Also, famous personalities who though struggled with mathematics but had great scientific abilities. And a student must know them all. It is important to share the journey of the greatest mathematicians like Ramanujan, Aryabhata, and Albert Einstein for motivating the students. Also, stories of extraordinary men like Charles Darwin and Thomas Edison who struggled in mathematics and yet became scientists.


7. Active Involvement of Teachers:


Students are bound to have queries and curiosities. Motivated students ask them out directly and get their concepts cleared, but others stay quiet and subdue their doubts. Every teacher must actively take part in understanding which student is not comfortable in placing their queries.


The reasons can be several, some can be shy, and some keep quiet in the fear of being bullied and maybe afraid of placing an opinion.


Teachers, if they know a student to be shy, can directly talk to them or ask students to meet up separately with their queries if needed.  This not just helps the students get motivated but also builds a healthy teacher-student relationship.


8. Teamwork:


Students and teachers working together to solve critical problems is a great learning atmosphere. Each student has a technique of understanding problems and solving them. Several students working on a problem means several techniques on the plate. One can learn from each other and multiply their mathematical abilities.


9. Convincing Students to take ability tests:


Every student is unique, and an elephant must not be judged by its ability to fly. We all are constructed differently with widely different strengths, aptitudes, and skills. One may not be good in mathematics but can be extraordinary in English and which is their strength. An aptitude test is a series of questions to help students understand their skills and abilities. So, if a student has mathematical skills, they can sharpen it, if not, they could just learn the basics and let it be.


Being anxious about a subject like mathematics is normal. It requires good learning, good guidance, and mostly practice. An effective teacher can help overcome the anxiety with proper motivation and make a great learner out of an anxious kid. Giving rewards for accomplishments is good. Every student does not require to excel in maths, but having a basic concept is crucial for everyday life. How good are you in mathematics? Will you shine in the future if you major in Mathematics? Get all these answers from a simple career test. Appear on the Career Aptitude Test today and find out whether Mathematics is going to be your buddy in the future or not! 

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