Teacher for Learning


What drives you to do something? What drives learners? Often we expect our learners to share our enthusiasm for a topic and they just don’t seem to muster the same level of excitement. Sometimes they don’t even show up.

Motivation is a complex topic that has been studied in many contexts and has many variables. However, there are a few things you can do to make stronger connections for students to motivate them to learn.

Running Car

Motivation can determine, direct, and sustain what students do to learn. Consider the acronym WIIFM (what’s in it for me?). You can use WIIFM as a helpful lens to consider your students. After you have ascertained their prior knowledge, you are better able to frame new learning in the context of their experiences and past learning.

Always consider why your learners would be interested in learning something. What is the relevance for them? How will it connect to future activities in this class or beyond?

Extend Activity

Brainstorm a list of WIIFM from a student perspective.

If you can’t think of more than “because you should know it,” then you need to talk to your students and get a better sense of where they are in their learning and where they are going.

If you know your students well but you still have a hard time determining the relevance of a particular learning outcome, perhaps you should consider removing this content from your course.