From the Field

Motivation and Engagement in Student Assignments

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High achieving students who thrive in their learning environments are students who are interested and emotionally invested in their learning. This is because they are motivated and engaged and put forth a positive effort. As a part of Education Trust’s Equity in Motion series, Motivation and Engagement in Student Assignments,written by Joan Dabrowski and Tanji Reed Marshall, takes a closer look at the role of relevancy and choice in the criteria for motivation and rigor in assignments.

They found that choice and relevance are rare in assignments. A prior analysis of 6,800 middle school assignments demonstrated that only 10 percent of the assignments in English language arts, science, and social studies offered students authentic choices in content, process, or product; only 12 percent were considered relevant. This report offers ways to improve relevancy and choice through three steps. First, educators should know and value their students; second, they should review and refine the curriculum; third, teachers can work in teams to support each other in their capacity to do this work well.