Student Well-Being Blog

Motivation Matters

Motivation Matters covered what works, and what doesn’t work, to motivate students to do better in school. This blog is no longer being updated, but you can continue to explore these issues on by visiting our related topic pages: student motivation & engagement.

Education Motivation Matters Says Goodbye
When Kevin started Motivation Matters, it was with the idea that this blog would be a helpful resource for educators, parents, and community members interested in how to spark the interest of students and improve education—something I hope we've been able to accomplish over the past two and a half years. We've talked at length here about the importance of creativity and innovation, whether or not incentives lead to higher student motivation, how grades and GPA factor into students' desire to achieve, and much more. This blog has provided me and Kevin with an outlet to discuss the motivation efforts of schools across the nation as well as some of our own personal motivational struggles. I, for one, will miss Kevin's takes on the motivation issues he has dealt with regarding his children and the boys he coaches in youth sports.
Katie Ash, February 5, 2009
1 min read
Education Musical Motivation
A group of kindergarteners in Schuylkill Valley Elementary School in Pennsylvania are doing something interesting this year—they're all learning how to play the violin. The hope is that the students will show how playing a musical instrument could boost academic performance and cognitive ability.
Katie Ash, January 27, 2009
1 min read
Education Motivated to Volunteer
Although I didn't have a chance to volunteer on MLK Day this year (I spent the day traveling up and down the Columbia River Gorge right outside of Portland instead), the idea that it is intended to be a day of service is never far from my mind. And apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks that way. This AP article details how many people across the country spent Martin Luther King Day giving back to their communities.
Katie Ash, January 21, 2009
1 min read
Education The Importance of Art
We are mere days away from President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration, and if there's one thing I learned from the story I just finished up about school construction and facilities, it's that a lot of people have high hopes for what he is going to do when he takes office. Already, the House has released a copy of an economic stimulus bill that would give schools up to $100 billion dollars for various programs—everything from bolstering technology in schools to supporting early-childhood education. And according to this article from the Christian-Science Monitor, the arts education world is also hoping to receive a boost from the plan.
Katie Ash, January 16, 2009
1 min read
Science Sparking Science Interest Outside of School
This Education Week article about a new report put out by the the National Research Council discusses recent findings that informal science activities—such as visiting a museum, watching TV shows, and even conversations with family members—have the potential to improve students' learning and appreciation of science.
Katie Ash, January 14, 2009
1 min read
Education People Are (Sort of) Reading More!
One of the first entries I ever wrote for Motivation Matters was about a report that said students, and people in general, were reading less. As I mentioned in that post, as a book lover and avid reader, that news was disheartening and—quite frankly—a little frightening.
Katie Ash, January 12, 2009
1 min read
College & Workforce Readiness 'Citizen Schools' Seek to Boost After School Learning
This program, Citizen Schools, combines a lot of factors we talk about here on Motivation Matters to help boost education in communities across the country. In an effort to decrease the number of dropouts in America, the after-school program hooks up volunteer experts—college students, young professionals, and adults—with middle school students to act as mentors and teachers. The volunteers are encouraged to share specialized skills with the students in hands-on learning environments. This model makes education relevant and fun for students, as well as provides them with support from another adult who wants them to be successful in school.
Katie Ash, January 8, 2009
1 min read
College & Workforce Readiness Feedback Please!
Happy new year, everyone! We here at Motivation Matters wanted to take this opportunity to say thanks for all the thoughtful comments and suggestions we've received on this blog over the past year. As always, we want to make this blog a helpful and relevant resource for you, so if you have any topics that you'd like discussed or explored in the new year or suggestions on what we could do to improve the blog, please email me ( or Kevin ( or leave us a comment!
Katie Ash, January 6, 2009
1 min read
Education Duncan: Embracing Innovative Reform?
It will be interesting to see how Arne Duncan, Obama's pick for Secretary of Education, changes (or doesn't change) the way that schools are run in the United States after Obama takes office on Jan. 20. This article on the Washington Post site suggests that, based on his track record in Chicago, he is open to innovative and creative ways to boost grades and motivate students, including rewarding students for good grades with cash.
Katie Ash, December 30, 2008
1 min read
Education Students Joining Parent-Teacher Conferences
This New York Times article discusses the increase in schools that are including students in the traditional parent-teacher conference, sometimes encouraging the students themselves to lead the discussions. Proponents of this conference method say that having students there encourages them to take responsibility for their education and behavior in school, makes parents more comfortable, and increases participation in the conferences.
Katie Ash, December 29, 2008
1 min read
Education Separating Boys and Girls at School
This AP story shows how in a school where freshmen and sophomores are separated by gender test scores—and motivation levels—are up.
Katie Ash, December 22, 2008
1 min read
Education Radio Rookies Episode on Wasted Potential
Not to hit you guys over the head with this public radio program, but there's another Radio Rookies episode that is definitely worth the 8 and a half minutes it takes to listen.
Katie Ash, December 16, 2008
1 min read
Education Self-Publishing for Students
This article in The Salt Lake Tribune is about a new Web site called Mighty Authors, which allows students to publish their own books for free on loose paper and for a fee for soft or hardcover books. Launched by a Utah teacher, the aim of the service is to motivate students to write more and to use the site to help teach writing in the classroom.
Katie Ash, December 15, 2008
1 min read
Education Psychologist:Storytelling Fosters Resilience
Piggybacking on our post a few days ago about Radio Rookies, here's a commentary on that talks about how giving kids, especially those growing up under tough circumstances, the resources to tell their own stories fosters resilience and hope.
Katie Ash, December 11, 2008
1 min read