Can We Spark Self-Acceptance and Motivation (page 2)
What we know about the motivation of average learners could be important in the instruction of children with ADHD. Pintrich and Schunk (1996) reviewed strategies for improving academic motivation as (a) focusing on meaningful aspects of learning activities; (b) designing tasks for novelty, variety, diversity, and interest; (c) designing tasks that are challenging but reasonable; (d) providing opportunities for students to have some choice and control over activities in the classroom; (e) focusing on individual improvements; (f) making evaluation private, not public; (g) recognizing student effort; and (h) helping students see mistakes as opportunities for learning.
Each of these principles focuses on pleasure that can exist within the activity itself and is called intrinsic motivation. In contrast, extrinsic motivation uses external rewards (e.g., grades and other signs of recognition) as outcomes of performance. Intrinsic motivation is considered important in the long term because it is independent of outside conditions and has been found to increase students’ task involvement and the use of more effective study strategies (i.e., than students who were extrinsically motivated or assigned to extrinsic conditions [Schunk, 1996]).
However, motivational researchers also agree that extrinsic rewards are necessary for boring or repetitive practice tasks. For example, all students who attempt more difficult tasks or tasks on which they have a history of failure would need extrinsic incentives. Even average students reported that getting positive feedback or grades reinforced their efforts (studying), increased pride in learning, and reduced worries about failing, which freed them to learn more (Covington, 2000). Finally, certain types of extrinsic reward can lead to intrinsic motivation. A recent review of research reported that teacher praise (but not tangibles) led to increased intrinsic motivation and attention similar to the gains from teacher explanations of the relevance of content (for a review, see Witzel & Mercer, 2003). Verbal praise has an especially positive effect when it is informational (feedback) rather than controlling.
Many students with learning difficulties also have low self-acceptance. Students with this kind of profile often spend considerable energy avoiding feelings of failure and bolstering self-concept. For example, blaming others avoids possible punishment. Similarly, dependency and a need for perfection avoid possible failure. More constructive ways to get mastery require learning how to ask for help or how to ask for permission to join in a group or activity. The following are evidence-based practices to improve academic self-acceptance:
Evidence-Based Practices: Emphasize Strengths and Successes and Help Children Avoid Failure
- Prepare the student for new situations, tasks, and transitions. Teach students how to ask permission to enter groups. It may protect them from acting aggressively when they attempt to get what they need or enter groups (Knapczyk, 1988).
- Communicate a personal interest in students with ADHD. As reported by these students, the most helpful motivational strategies were teachers who gave individual attention and took personal interest (Zentall, Moon et al., 2001; for similar reports by students with behavioral problems, see Morse, 1994). From these caring individuals, children learn to lead with their strengths and to be patient with their own weaknesses.
- Involve students in cooperative learning groups because they
- provide a supportive environment that contributes to children valuing themselves and feeling valued by others more than in traditional classes (Augustine, Gruber, & Hanson, 1990; Slavin, 1987);
- increase motivation and self-esteem for students with behavioral disorders (Rife & Karr--Kidwell, 1995);
- improve social behavior, friendships, and acceptance within general education classrooms (Schrag, 1993; Slavin, 1991); amd
- can generalize to other classroom and school situations (johnson, Johnson, Warring, & Maruyama, 1986).
- Provide opportunities for students with ADHD to tutor younger students to improve their social and affective skills. Outcomes for students with behavioral disorders included improvement in social interactions and communication skills, kindness and empathy, a sense of responsibility toward others, and awareness of the needs of others (Fitzsimmons-Lovett, 1998).
- Comment on the contributions of students with disabilities to enhance their status within groups (o'Conner & Jenkins, 1993).
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