When I started my journey toward becoming a teacher I had expectations for what I would encounter as a student teacher. I assumed that there would be all kinds of students with different abilities and motivations. What I did not expect was the amount of apathy some of my secondary students were prone to. The apathy increased the older the students were. High schools were the worst. Students were unmotivated to participate in the projects and lacked any motivation to do. While middle school and elementary school students needed some motivation most would catch on to their peer enthusiasm. I experienced a greater sense of apathy from the students in 9- 12th grades. Discussions with other teachers lead me to believe that this was a general consensus among most students.
I was not naive enough when I started my student teaching to imagine that all of my students would be excited about the projects, but I had an expectation that most would be somewhat interested. After all that is why I want to teach to see the students become excited. So imagine my surprise when I started my student teaching and a large population of the students just didn’t care. They had no motivation to participate in class, turn in assignments, get a passing grade, or produce any work.
So what is their “problem”? I noticed some just didn’t care, some wanted to sleep, some socialize, play with their phones, etc. All of these don’t seem reason enough to not participate, I know that I wanted to pass classes. As a student I was also particularly interested in the classes I chose, extracurricular especially the arts. This study is a look into the motivations of students, and why they make the decisions to not turn in work, participate in class discussions, and/or create projects (artwork).
From my student teaching I noticed a lack of motivation in secondary visual art classes. The motivating factors behind the behaviors can give insight into the issues that our students are facing. The one to one connection with a student is important for successful teaching and can help the student be more motivated toward participation in class and lessen apathy. While research exists on the motivation practices that teachers can use to engage their students, there seems to be a lack of information on why student interest is low. Jarvis-Saunders (2008) suggests in her case study that research shows when students are involved in an engaging curriculum, they have the opportunity to socialize while working, and are allowed a choice and control of assignments they will be more creative, complete more assignments, and be intrinsically motivated to do their work (p. 286).
1) Is the visual arts class they are taking a graduation requirement? If the class is not required to graduate are students less likely to be enthusiastic or care?
2) What is the student reasoning for lack of participation/motivation in the class?