Competition: The True Educational Motivator

Competition: The True Educational Motivator

Two conversations came up this weekend that drive me to the conclusion that the best motivator for students (and just about anyone else) is competition.

I teach four sections of the same Humanities class. These are seniors who are feeling senioritis long before they can even find graduation on the calendar. Each of my sections was doing the same basic work. They were reading one of three selections of Greek philosophy and then creating a poster for a brief presentation.

Because I taught all four sections back to back, I was able to get a pretty good read on the results based on the way I presented the assignment. In the first section, I told the groups that this was a contest, and only the best poster for each reading would be displayed on the wall.

I did not include the idea of a competition in any of the other sections.

The results were pretty amazing.

The next day, each of the groups presented, but only the class that prepared for a contest really took time and put effort into the poster. The other sections had posters (for the most part) but they were utilitarian and not very aesthetic. The first section’s posters were all well done and completed with pride. One included drawings and art, another included pictures downloaded from the internet. the posters in the other sections only had words.

My nephew teachers in another school, and he told us stories of motivation through competition as well.

I know that this method of motivation works, but I wonder why I don’t implement it into my teaching more frequently? I wonder if a teacher uses competition too much, does it burn the students out? I didn’t even have to offer any sort of prize. I just mentioned the idea of competition and the work was so much better.

Pictures to follow.



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