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Teaching Reports

Student Motivation: Student and Educator Perceptions

March 2023

Even prior to the pandemic, educators sometimes faced challenges in their efforts to keep students engaged in schoolwork. Remote learning during the pandemic increased concerns about student engagement and motivation, especially given that this type of instruction was unfamiliar to many students and teachers, required access to reliable technology, and caused social isolation for students separated from their classmates.

Although educators and students have returned to in-person learning, there has been extensive concern about how the tumultuous events of the pandemic have impacted the capacity of schools to help students re-engage and re-develop the motivation to do their best in class.

To learn more about this topic, the EdWeek Research Center conducted a nationally representative survey of 13- to 19-year-olds between December 2022 and January 2023. In January and February 2023, the research center also surveyed teachers and administrators working in secondary schools to assess the degree to which the views of educators aligned with the perspectives of the young people they serve.

Survey results indicate that educators had a more negative assessment of student motivation than teenagers, themselves. More than 4 in 10 educators believed that students are not motivated to do their best in school while just 14 percent of students consider themselves to be unmotivated.

To dig into the factors underlying such perceptions, the surveys also asked respondents to share their views on the role of the coronavirus pandemic and on approaches that might boost morale, such as mentoring programs and efforts to connect school learning to students’ future careers in the workplace.

This report outlines survey findings with the goal of shedding light on strategies that might best bolster student engagement and motivation.

Coverage of whole-child approaches to learning is supported in part by a grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, at Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.