The following are resources that go more in-depth regarding motivational theory in education. Each description includes a brief synopsis of their content and basic philosophy.

Choice Theory

The Quality School: Managing students without coercion by Dr. William Glasser

In practically every human motivation book there is one consistent factor that contributes significantly to a child or adult’s level of motivation in life: Choice. In his book, The Quality School, Dr. William Glasser expounds on his philosophy of what raises the level of student satisfaction in school. He called his philosophy, Choice Theory. In essence we raise the level of student enjoyment in school when teachers teach what they enjoy teaching and students learn things that interests them. Let’s face it, not every student’s strength is math! But those same non-math-minded students may excel at reading, writing, the sciences, the visual or performing arts or athletics. Throughout the day in a typical elementary school a child’s schedule is basically fixed or prescribed. Within those prescribed courses our teachers continue to find ways to teach material in such a way that student’s intrinsic motivation to learn is raised. But again, these courses are not chosen by the students. However, if a student is given the opportunity to choose or elect to take a class, we exponentially raise their level of their intrinsic motivation to participate, learn and thrive.

In order to raise the level of school satisfaction, increase a student’s intrinsic motivation and also teach life skills FRCS Elementary is launching a new program called DEEP (Dynamic Elementary Electives Program). That’s right, an elementary school where children can choose electives!

Choice Theory contends that all human beings are born with five basic needs built into their genetic structure: survival, love, power, fun, and freedom. All of our lives we must attempt to live in a way that will best satisfy one or more of these needs. ~ Dr. William Glasser, The Quality School, p. 46

The Quality School by Willam Glasser, M.D.

Multiple Intelligence Theory

Multiple Intelligences: The theory in practice​ by Dr. Howard Gardner

“The theory of multiple intelligences was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University. It suggests that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on I.Q. testing, is far too limited. Instead, Dr. Gardner proposed eight different intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults. Dr. Gardner says that our schools and culture focus most of their attention on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence. We esteem the highly articulate or logical people of our culture. However, Dr. Gardner says that we should also place equal attention on individuals who show gifts in the other intelligences: the artists, architects, musicians, naturalists, designers, dancers, therapists, entrepreneurs, and others who enrich the world in which we live. Unfortunately, many children who have these gifts don’t receive much reinforcement for them in school.” (source:…).

One way of knowing what students are interested in and are highly motivated to pursue is what they like to do when nobody is telling them what to do. Watch what they elect to do after school, on the weekends, and on other days off. What activities, hobbies, games, or programs do they choose?

Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner

The Motivational Breakthrough

by Richard Lovoie

It is important to adhere to the curriculum guidelines of your school disctrict, but you will greatly enhance your students’ motivation if you give yourself permission to ‘think outside the box.’ (p. 54)

Every learning theory from Maslow to Gardner has motivation as its initial and fundamental step. In the classroom, we tend to use a one-size-fits-all approach by attempting to motivate all students with one single reward system, star chart, or grading policy. In his book The Motivational Breakthrough, Richard Lavoie presents an innovative and field-tested model that enables teachers to better understand and foster student motivation at all grade levels.

On page 46, Lavoie states, “The child with ADD will respond more positively to a curriculum that allows him choices and options. He/she will also be more likely to participate actively in tasks where there is a degree of creativity and novelty.” Elementary Principal Dan Sarian submits to you that this is true for ALL children, regardless of whether they have been diagnosed with ADHD or not.

…children have minimal control over their lives. They are allowed to make few significant major decisions and are given few meaningful choices at school. (p. 91)

Children naturally wish to do things that they enjoy and things that they do well. Further, they wish to avoid doing that which holds no interest for them or activities they do poorly…therefore a child is more likely to be motivated in an environment in which he/she is occasionally allowed to make choices and decisions. Of course these choices must be offered in consideration of the child’s health and safety. (p. 92)

The Motivation Breakthrough by Richard Lavoie