Sustaining Motivation among Students in Virtual Classrooms
Online learning has become the new normal of the post-COVID era. Due to lockdown restrictions and social distancing norms, students are encouraged to utilize diverse virtual learning platforms to continue their studies and to develop new skills, and thereby to use the lockdown time productively. It is also discussed and debated nowadays by various scholars and experts across the globe that, technology-driven learning methodologies and online classrooms become the emerging trend in the education sector. Thus it is necessary to explore the various pros and cons of online learning so that we can design and modify the format and inclusion of virtual learning in the traditional learning methodology. This article attempts to identify various determinants of motivation among students while attending online classes, along with relevant strategies to increase and sustain academic motivation among students in virtual classrooms.
Hartnet in 2016 mentioned in her paper, the importance of motivation in online learning as when we investigate about motivation in online learning, it is important to consider three different perspectives.
- One is the design of the learning environment that provides an adequate level of motivation to the students, which is conceptualized as the instructional design.
- Second is the inherent motivation of students that include self-efficacy, goal orientation, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and interest among students. Such traits are relatively permanent and determine motivation both in traditional as well as online settings.
- Third is the dynamic and responsive nature of motivation in various contexts (Hartnett, St. George, & Dron, 2011; Rienties et al., 2012) which is more significant while dealing with online learning.
Such perspectives prove that academic motivation increases if there is appropriate interaction among teachers and students, timely feedback given for students’ performance, team works improving collaboration among students, and a practically oriented approach towards learning. Thus such factors have to be maintained and enhanced by teachers while using online learning methods, to sustain motivation among students.
In the changing tradition of education, students might often get perplexed with the dynamics of virtual learning and might find it difficult adapting to the technical shifts in the way they learn. Thus it is necessary to provide a supportive environment to the students to ensure their success and persistence (Moisey and Hughes, 2008). Various methods can be adopted to sustain motivation among students. One way is to enhance team-building through group activities. It will not only enable students to increase their motivation through active participation, but also improve their communication with other students and facilitates in maintaining friendships. Activities that explore their soft skills will motivate students to be focused, active, and enthusiastic throughout the learning process. Active online participation, social presence, and collaboration were also found to be significantly influencing students in online education by enhancing their intrinsic motivation (Widjaja and Chen, 2017). Passive learning without any kind of participation and team works makes students feel isolated and disconnected from others which leads to exhaustion and boredom while learning. Along with active participation, motivation also depends on the task value characterized by attainment value, intrinsic value, utility value, and cost (Wigfield & Eccles, 1992) associated with the activities assigned, as well as the self-efficacy and previous exposure to online learning (Artino, 2007).
The social presence of teachers also plays an important role in sustaining academic motivation. Teachers have to be available to clarify doubts and facilitate discussions regarding the contents covered in classes. Teachers can enhance motivation among students by supporting their autonomy and competency (Hartnett, 2016). Teachers should also be cautious of students’ needs and should respond to students’ emails and other queries (Dixson, 2010). Communication between teachers and students affect the level of student engagement. Teachers should encourage students’ participation in class by providing them with interesting activities that make them motivated as well as enable them to improve their learning skills. Selvi (2010) identified that teachers’ competency plays a significant role in motivating students, along with students’ attention, learning-teaching process, online learning environment or technical infrastructure, and time management. Measurements and evaluation were also found to be determinants of academic motivation by the researcher. Thus timely feedback is important without which students feel detached from the learning-teaching process. Lack of feedback may also reduce their extrinsic motivation to learn and participate in activities.
Motivation to learn is found to be situation specific and is facilitated by online teaching practices, the way activities are designed, assessment methods adopted, and social aspects of tasks assigned (Hartnett, 2016). Thus while changing to an era of virtual learning; it has to be ensured that no compromise is being made on the quality of education provided and the methodologies adopted for teaching and assessment. Online learning is more flexible, dynamic, and effective than traditional teaching in many ways. But along with the application of online learning platforms, it is also necessary to address the challenges of the new learning methods adopted.
Also in the long run, measures should be taken to combine online and traditional classroom methods so that the comprehensive demands of education could be met. The post COVID era may bring lots of changes in the job market and employee requirements in which education and skill development play a key role. Thus it is highly necessary for the coming days to sustain motivation among students to overcome the challenges lying ahead of them and to develop themselves into a competent and agile individual.