Motivating the Mathematics Student

Revision as of 21:08, 27 October 2009 by Xiyao Huang (talk | contribs)

Author: Augustine Fucci

Objectives of this Course

This course focuses on one main aspect of John Kellers ARCS Model of Motivational Design, Relevance. If what the student is learning can be linked to what they are interested in outside of the classroom, then the student will develop a deeper, more meaningful, long term understanding of mathematics and it's importance in their lives.
After completing this mini-course, you will have a better understanding of the implications of real world problems and student interests and how they can be combined to create motivating lesson plans.


Why are we learning this? A question that most students think about and a few ask during their time spent in a mathematics classroom. Students in today’s classroom are feeling lost and out of place. Why should they have to learn something that has no relevance to them? Most of what is being taught in mathematics can be directly related to a real world problem, one that grabs the student’s attention and keeps them motivated.
This course is broken down into three units: ARCS Model of Motivational Design, Student Interests, and Real Life Problems. In unit one, you will be introduced to the ARCS model of motivational design and its role in developing a learning environment. In the second unit, you will learn about student interests and how they can affect learning and motivation. In the final unit, you will be assessing the value of real life problems in the mathematics curriculum.


Before moving on, reflect on the following questions:
  • How can the incorporation of student interests increase motivation? Could it hurt?
  • What do the following words have in common with a lesson plan? Explain.
    • Attention
    • Relevance
    • Confidence
    • Satisfaction
  • What comes to mind when you hear a teacher talking about “Real Life Problems”? List some examples.

Unit 1 ARCS Model of Motivational Design

Unit 2 Student Interests

Unit 3 Real Life Mathematics

Wrapping up

Motivating the mathematics student can take some creativity and a lot of trial and error on the part of the teacher. What works for you one year or even in one week may not work the in the preceding years or weeks. It is therefore important to know your students and their interests. Your participation in this course deepens your understanding of mathematics instruction and implies that you are a life long learner who is devoted to educating and motivating every student that walks through your door. Keep It Real!

  1. Come up with a list of ten real world problems that relate to your interests. Compare your interests to your students interests that you found when conducting your survey.
  2. Produce an outline or use existing outline of your curriculum and for each unit/concept.
Identify student interests that match unit/concept
Specify real life problems


Farrell, M. A., & Farmer, W. A. (1988). Secondary mathematics instruction: An integrated approach.
Providence, Rhode Island : Janson publications, inc.
Ford, D. Y., Alber, S. R., & Heward, W. L. (2006). Prufrock press inc. Retrieved April 12, 2009, from Setting “Motivation
Traps” for Underachieving Gifted Students Web site: ::
Keller, John, M. (2006). Official site of john keller's arcs model. Retrieved April 19, 2009, from Motivational Design Web site:
Mitchell, Mathew (1994, April, 5). Enhancing situational interest in the mathematics classroom. Retrieved April 15, 2009,