The knowledge teachers have about students is a key asset not only in maximizing students’ learning but also having good, strong teacher-student relationship. But at what point does the teacher start to gather knowledge about the student, by what means is the knowledge gathered, how well does the teacher use such knowledge and with whom is the knowledge shared?

In some Ghanaian schools (elementary and junior high), parents come to see the headteacher/headmaster and discuss a possible opportunity to admit their ward in the school. The prospective student is made to sit for an admission test. The student is admitted and placed in a class based on the result of the test taken. Besides the test results, student’s biodata and sometimes academic report from the previous school, what else will the teacher and the headmaster know about the student? Parents will only share with the school severe health conditions of the students. Apart from that, what the teacher will know about the student coming to the class is the result from the admission test. And the result from such test becomes the starting point for what sort of academic relationship the teacher will have with the student.

But the knowledge of students’ motivation to learn is very essential to the design and delivery of lessons and the relationships teachers build with students. This should also be known to teachers before students start classroom activities. Such knowledge helps teachers to understand each students beyond the admission test. From the Two-Factor Model of Learning Motivation proposed by the Japanese researcher, Shinichi Ichikawa, students come to the class with different kinds of motivations to learn. This ranges from fulfillment-oriented motivation where students see learning itself as fun and to satisfy their curiosity. There is the training oriented type. To these students, learning is to train the brain and for self-discipline. There are some students who are motivated to learn due to the practicality and usefulness of what they are learning. To them, how useful is the knowledge to work and daily life. This is the practical orientation. Some students too are relationship oriented; others are learning so they are also learning. Also, they learn because they want to be recognized by people they love. The self-esteem oriented is motivated by competition and the desire to win. They learn hard with strong competition. The last one is the reward or remuneration oriented. They learn to get reward from parents, teachers, for the future or praise and appreciation from others.

How can teachers and school authorities come to identify these peculiar motivations that drive students to learn? Of course with vigilance and purposeful observation and communication, the teacher can identify these motivations. Unfortunately, some teachers only have their attention on the students who do well in class. Though difficult it may seem, casting the net wide to understand ‘all’ students in the class will help meet their needs in order to support their learning. This will also influence the methods, content structure, evaluation techniques and the kind of relationships teachers establish with students to maximize learning.

Here comes the role of school couseling. With teachers having taken courses in guidance and counseling, even when there is no professional counselor assigned to the school, there should be a time within the academic year that teachers with their knowledge in the field should engage students and possibly their parents to discuss matters concerning students’ learning. An example can be to include this practice in the revision week. Talk to students and parents one by one about not only students’ motivations to learn but anything concerning their learning. Listen to parents. Let them share changes they are observing in their children. Teachers too share same with them and find ways to make the situation better. Likewise with students.

Understanding and knowing students especially what motivates them to learn can be a useful tool to the teacher to help students reach their best in the teaching learning situation.

Nicholas Okota-Wilson


Passionate about leveraging technology to enhance living in society, Farosguide is an avid advocate for innovative solutions that bridge the gap between tech advancements and everyday life. With a keen interest in generative AI, IoT, and their applications in education,Farosguide aims to inspire and empower others to embrace the digital future. Through insightful writing and engaging content, Farosguide explores how cutting-edge technologies can transform our world, making it more efficient, connected, and enriched.

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