Virtual Classroom Insights - Part 8: Improving Motivation - Effective Studying

How students work and prepare for virtual classroom sessions can severely affect the way they perceive the entire learning process. It is very important that teachers are able to understand some of the major issues that pupils will encounter and to try to help them overcome them. Furthermore, creating learning habits and giving useful advice are among the essentials that pave the way to good virtual instruction.

Within the complex dynamics of the learning process, both the teacher-pupil relationship and the optimization of the teaching methods play pivotal roles. Another key factor is effective studying, which is based on the expectations that students have about the learning process, their levels of self esteem, their study habits, and other outside influences.

Expectations

In addition to everything else that a teacher is responsible for, they must also help students set realistic goals. Pupils often have naive beliefs that can negatively affect their studies. For example, many believe that good papers should be written in one sitting. This, however, disregards the need to plan and start writing in advance, leaving time for revision. Another common belief is that intelligence is a fixed quantity that is not influenced by effort, which is similar to the claim that success is a result of innate talent rather than hard work.

Unrealistic thinking easily leads to demotivation. Setting obtainable expectations will prevent students from getting discouraged by time-consuming and difficult tasks. It is also helpful for the teacher to use the virtual classroom to share their own experiences or the experiences of others relating to study difficulties as well as paths taken to overcome those obstacles. It is important to recognize the fact that mastery requires time, effort, and sometimes even struggle. It is the lecturer’s responsibility to assure students that they have the required abilities to cope with the provided task or problem and to also praise their efforts.

Personal value

Social psychology sheds light on some aspects of the attitudes that people have in group settings. Since the virtual classroom is a form of group activity, many of the theories of social psychology apply here as well. For example, attributing and measuring one’s degree of self-worth is typical for students. Each student strives to be individually important, but also has the need to belong to a group. That is why, either consciously or subconsciously, all students try to contribute to the well-being of the entire class while trying to gain the group’s approval, benevolence, and favor. This social factor is a substantial source of inspiration and motivation.

If applied and managed properly, social psychology norms can be an enormous asset to the tutor. Students measure their own worth to the extent to which they are personally and academically involved and praised. This is why it is very important for teachers to highlight the value and relevance of all activities in terms of the students’ future work life.

Study habits

Sometimes students handle the study process in a manner that does not help them gain the desired or required results. This is one of the easiest things that leads to demotivation. Lecturers should consider helping their pupils build positive study habits. By helping them cope with their studies teachers also create greater motivation in their students. It may also be useful if the lecturers give some advice on effective habits, like helpful methods on how to read articles. For example, students can get through a larger number of articles if they use the technique of skimming the headings. This way they will be able to sort out the more relevant pieces of information from the less relevant. Another good idea is to review the sources and tables used in the article for relevance to the researched subject. Yet another option is for the student to try and identify the main argument or thesis of the author and assess its value. Problem solving is also an extremely necessary skill that the teacher can cultivate.

“By explicitly teaching productive study habits, instructors can help students achieve a greater payoff for their efforts, which enhances motivation as well as learning.” Eberly Center “Students Lack Interest or Motivation”

Outside influences

Unlike some distractions, such as the vast universe that a smartphone offers, outside influences refer to social obstacles that impede students from learning. Outside influences are those that lead students towards the use of smartphones and other negative habits. Two of the most common outside influences are classmate demotivation and teachers’ attitudes.

Classmate demotivation. Often, a lack of ground rules, disobedience, and the impunity of some students, can influence the motivation levels of other pupils. Some actions to take in this situation may include applying social pressure on a demotivated student in order to help them regain motivation or to cease the obstructive activities. The approval of a team is an extremely strong motivator and has a great influence over an individual. Additionally, the teacher can find an appropriate way to show some personal attention to the troublesome student and provide additional help if needed. Any type of effort put forth will be helpful when attempting to enhance the performance of the students in the virtual classroom.

Teachers’ attitudes. Overly positive or negative behaviors and signals from the teacher can be extremely harmful for students in the virtual classroom. All of the obstructing assumptions that a teacher may have, all of the acts of favoring one student over another, as well as any act of hostility or aggression, can severely damage the motivation and interest levels that a student has in a subject, not to mention ruin a teacher-pupil relationship.

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Maya Kolarova is an experienced teacher, advertiser and copywriter. She has a PhD in Journalism from the Department of Media and Public Communication at the University of National and World Economy (UNWE) in Sofia. She has taught English and Italian classes, as well as lectures in UNWE on matters of Mass communication, Business communication, Public Opinion. Her fields of interest include: communication, online media, advertising, and psychology.
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