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“Chronically Disengaged” is part of a title of a recent post on Forbes. The author cites research that links student academic motivation with four conditions; three relate to when students:  

feel competent enough to complete the task at hand;

see a direct link between their actions and an outcome;

have some control over whether or how to undertake a task;

The fourth condition is grounded in the work of Christensen who suggests readers view various aspects of their professional and personal lives by asking what job we expect something in particular to do for them. Christensen and his colleagues focus on what children want by posing this question – for any something children participate in what do the children want that something to do for them? Their answer is that children want to feel successful and do so with friends, every day. Now, the fourth condition from the Forbes post:

when the task has interest or value to them; and when completing the task brings social rewards, such as a sense of belonging to a group or approval from someone they care about.

My colleague described this at a conference last fall; a video clip of her description is below.

Teachers can refocus their thinking for the purpose of engaging students with them and others in a meaningful classroom environment. In the words of Christensen, teachers want students to “hire school.” This means teachers must create learning environments where students feel successful and do so with friends, every day.





Christensen, C. (2012). How Will You Measure Your Life? New York, NY: Harper Collins-Business.

Crotty, James M. (03/13/2013). Motivation Matters: 40% Of High School Students Chronically Disengaged From School. Forbes. Available online here.

Pilcher, Janet K. (2012). What Does This Mean for Students? Presentation at the Studer Education What’s Right in Education Conference, Nashville, TN. Video available online here.

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