Can we force a student to learn?

(Reading time: 2 - 3 minutes)

No, we can’t force a student to learn, however there are many great methods to encourage students to learn. Teachers who encourage learning produce individuals who are better educated and more prepared for the future. Encouraging students to learn requires extra time and effort on the part of the teacher, both in and out of the classroom. How can we encourage students to learn? By:

  • Setting high expectations,
  • Changing our instructional methods consistently,
  • Using students’ personal interests,
  • Teaching students to set goals, and monitor their progress.


We set high expectations for our students because the expectations that we have impact students’ rate of success. We tell our students what we expect from them at the beginning of the year and the beginning of each lesson. We also put the learning goals in writing and hang them in the classroom as a helpful reminder for our students.

Changing our instructional methods keeps students interested and motivated to learn. Students respond best to a wide range of teaching techniques.

When explaining an idea or implementing an activity, we use students’ interests. By planning activities that incorporate their interests with the learning goals, students will be more excited to engage in learning and will better retain what they’ve learned.

Teach students to set goals for their class work and in their private lives.

This skill not only helps in class and in school, but also in their personal lives and in their future careers. Students who have good goal-setting skills develop excellent time management and organizational skills.
Evaluate the students on what they should already know in order to ensure that they will be motivated to learn and will be able to complete the desired tasks. Before beginning instruction on a topic, discuss the topic with a question and answer period. Use the feedback from this session to determine your starting point for the class.
While teaching and while students are engaged in learning activities, monitor students to make sure they comprehend the material and don’t look bored or confused. Review difficult or complicated information for students who may be struggling. Lastly, while monitoring students provide constructive feedback to encourage students and motivate them to continue learning.

Feedback is one of the best tools in the classroom

Feedback has been identified as one of the most powerful influences on student achievement. If used well, it can double the rate of learning. 
Good work is not rewarded with stickers or simplistic praise. It’s rewarded with feedback. It isn’t just about delivering a ‘good job’ when work is done well or highlighting mistakes. It’s about identifying what students need to do next.
Feedback is saying what you did well and what you need to do now. The more immediate the feedback, the more effective it is. In an ideal situation teachers give students feedback, students give teachers feedback and students give each other feedback.
We know it is powerful when we ask the question, “Where to go next?” – and the kids tell the teachers where they need to go next. •

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