The carrot on the stick

The carrot on the stick done (PS1, PS2, PS3, PS4, PS11, PS13)


So, I teach 2 groups, 1 on a Monday and 1 on a Friday. Which group struggles with motivation? Well, it’s the Monday group. Now I would have thought being a Monday, the students would have had a restful weekend and be raring to go, but it’s not the case. The Friday group has had a busy week at work, you would have thought would be tired and unmotivated but it’s not the case. So how do I get the Monday group motivated and how do I keep the Friday group going as they are? Well, first I need to look at the individual groups.


Friday group

Is it that the Friday group are intrinsically motivated? I think it is. When they get to college, they are always on time, willing to do the work, always asking on how to improve and what’s going to be taught next week. I believe they all want to be at college, want to learn and want to become electricians. Because this is the case for all the students, they motivate each other and require very little motivation from me. Just information and praise seem to be working brilliantly. The Friday class are the perfect example of Carole s Dweck’s (2012) Growth Mindset theory. They all have the mindset of progress and if any of the students at the beginning were in a fixed mindset because the majority are growth mindset, they pulled the other students into their growth mindset.

Monday group

Now, I think the reverse has happened to my Monday group. The fixed outnumbered the growth mind-setters and brought them all down to fixed and a couple of intrinsically motivated students soon lost that motivation because of the rest of the group. Now because of the lack of motivation in the group, this is bringing out poor behaviour in the classroom. So now this is my number 1 priority over the Christmas break. I must come up with a plan to get the group motivated again. I think I’m going to try a bit of nudge theory. Maybe get them to choose the subjects taught each week from a list I create. Make it seem that they are choosing what the lessons are and in turn be motivated to complete it well. Yes, I think I will give this ago. Stay tuned for an update next year 😊

Now, 6 months on from above, let us have a look at what’s happened.


Friday group

The learners are all still motivated as before. The growth mindset really did work and continues to work. With plenty of positive reinforcement from me and between the learners, they all feel they can achieve what is necessary to complete their apprenticeship. We get the occasional rough spell of poor motivation due to external factors and difficult subjects in class, but they are few are far between. The key now with this group is to keep the motivation at the level it is; Legault, L, Green-Demers, I, & Pelletier, L (2006 p. 569) stated

“Academic amotivation is a complex phenomenon, partly because its boundaries stretch beyond the education domain to the broader social context in which the student is situated. More specifically, academic attitudes and behaviours are strongly influenced by key social agents in the student’s environment, whether these be teachers, parents, or friends. The influence of these significant others can be illuminated using a sub theory of SDT: cognitive evaluation theory (CET; Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2002). A central tenet of this perspective is that social contexts that promote autonomy, competence, and relatedness will facilitate intrinsic and internalized motivation (Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2002)”

So, all I can have control of is the motivation in the classroom, if there are factors outside that are detrimental to the learner’s motivation, there isn’t much I can do other than create a safe and secure classroom environment were the learner feels comfortable to be able to talk to me about any external situation and then maybe I can help them. With regards to the classroom motivation, isn’t the saying if it isn’t broke don’t fix it. If I carry on as I’m currently with this group, giving them the things, they need to stay motivated, from the basics of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (breakfast available, comfortable classroom, breaks when needed) up to the higher psychological needs (positive reinforcement from me and promote it between students) and if I’m very lucky maybe some will achieve self-actualisation where motivation from outside sources isn’t required 😊


Monday Group


No change ☹ Nudge theory did not have the required effect.

Now in a previous blog, I quoted the following:

‘If a student fails to learn it is the teacher’s fault. With appropriate instruction, all pupils should get A grades’ (B.F. Skinner, behaviourist psychologist, 1955) read in Petty (2014)

I disagreed with the statement and still do, but if you change the line, fails to learn, with fails to be motivated, then maybe it would be correct. I’m starting to believe I am failing this group. Now the key here, I believe, is admitting I’m failing and how I going to deal with it. Yes, they are learning currently as I’ve previously shown in my blog ‘Assessing you, assessing me, aha’ but will this continue when the subjects get difficult if there is no motivation there. So, what’s the plan? Well, I’m going to start the new term reinforcing all the things I do right with my Friday group that have faded with this group. Make sure they all know the classroom is safe, secure and I’m there for them (if I can help I will). Start promoting the group as a team entity rather than a group of individuals. Getting them to support and motivate each other. Then I’m going to give a motivational talk, turning the extrinsic motivation from me into intrinsic motivation. I know it is going to be a challenge but it’s a challenge I accept 😊



Dweck (2012) Read online (16.05.18)

Nudge Theory Read online (17.05.18)

Legault, L, Green-Demers, I, & Pelletier, L (2006), Read online ‘Why do high school students lack motivation in the classroom? Toward an understanding of academic amotivation and the role of social support’, Journal Of Educational Psychology, 98, 3, pp. 567-582, PsycARTICLES, EBSCOhost, viewed (17 May 2018)

Maslow (1943,1954) Read online (17.05.18)


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