How Do Teachers Support Students’ Motivation and Learning in Their Classrooms?

From Section:
Instruction in Teacher Training
May. 15, 2011

Source: Teachers College Record Volume 113 Number 5, 2011, p. 969-1003.

Purpose and Research Questions

The goal of this study was to identify high school teachers who were perceived by their students as creating classroom contexts that were particularly supportive of students’ motivation and learning, and to describe their practice.
The analysis was guided by the following questions:
How do effective high school teachers create classroom contexts that students perceive as supportive of their motivation and engagement?
What underlying commonalities describe these teachers’ instructional practices?
A secondary question focused on whether there were any discernible differences between the contexts of high school science and social studies classes, or associated with teachers’ gender.

The participants were 2,864 students in Grades 9–12 from three high schools and 4 of their teachers (2 science and 2 social studies).

Research Design
Teachers were identified for observation based on students’ reported perceptions of the instructional contexts of their classes. Observation field notes were analyzed thematically to develop a grounded model of teachers’ instructional practices.


Analysis of the field notes suggested a model that consists of three core themes: supporting understanding, building and maintaining rapport, and managing the classroom. Within this framework, a number of the teacher practices described served more than one of these three functions, and some, such as teacher movement and the use of varied participation structures, served all three. All the observed characteristics of practice were consistent across subject area domains, and differences in relation to teachers’ gender were evident only in terms of teachers’ use of humor in the classroom.

Updated: Jan. 17, 2017
Classroom environment | Classroom techniques | Learner engagement | Secondary school teachers | Student motivation | Teacher role