Sweden - Motivation

Many countries in Europe are currently facing a challenging situation with inflow of large numbers of immigrants. Societies need to adapt to new conditions and find quick solutions to new situations. Since many of the immigrants are children, school systems must be flexible and develop strategies for welcoming and including them in society. Newly arrived children are in a vulnerable position in school since many of them have experienced difficulties, conflicts, separations, traumas etc before coming to their new country. This affects their general psychological well-being and ability to learn. Furthermore, their knowledge of Swedish is initially very limited. They also have varying school experiences and not always a safe and stable home situation (family, housing, economy …). Within this category of students low basic skills, low grades and incomplete studies are more common than the Swedish average despite the fact that many newly arrived students are highly motivated for school. So, why these differences regarding school success? How can they be reduced? How can educational professionals work to strengthen and enhance the students’ motivation and thus support success in education?

We claim student motivation to be an important factor in the process of successfully integrating newly arrived children into the Swedish school system. We focus on how professionals in education can work to enhance motivation and maintain it on a high level and guide students towards school success. We do not aspire to present a complete review of the subject area, but hope to make an inspiring contribution on how to be successful in how to motivate students.

We are convinced that motivation is equally important for school success in any context. Within this project we discuss, compare and transfer good practices regarding how to motivate students together with our partner organisations, AVCT in Liverpool and BWK in Berlin.

The Study

In order to study student motivation in practice, we are working in close cooperation with the language introduction program (SPRINT) at Celsiusskolan, Uppsala, Sweden. For comparison and additional input, we also work with an equivalent program at Lundellska gymnasieskolan, Uppsala.

The SPRINT programs are intended for newly arrived children from the age 16-20 to learn Swedish and to obtain knowledge enough to enter one of the national upper secondary school programs.

In our study we focus on the following aspects:

Motivation Factors
- What motivates the student (internal/personal and external/social factors)?
- What obstacles/limits at a personal as well as social level hinder motivation?

Organisation and methods to enhance motivation
- What teaching methods and activities are effective?
- How can the teacher’s attitude /approach / knowledge of and understanding for the child’s situation improve motivation?
- Who decides what goals to reach and how and when they have been reached? (Objectives/ goal orientation)
- How can school (and society) use resources and organise policies and activities in best possible way, so that all students can be motivated in their education, receive help and support if they need it, reach their goals and fulfill their potentials? 

Motivation Factors

Initially we want to find out what students believe influence their motivation. Therefore two different language introduction classes at Celsiusskolan work with a mindmap in order to process the concept of “motivation” (figure 1). The purpose is to find what factors students believe work against or for high motivation in school, and where these factors exist. The outcome of the work with the mindmaps will then become the basis for our more thorough interviews with students, teachers and career advisers about approaches, methods and organisation.

Figure 1

Organisation and methods to enhance motivation

With the outcome from the mindmap discussion, we want to find out how school and educational professionals can have an impact on the elements that influence the student motivation both in a positive and negative way. We will interview students, teachers and career advisers to explore their opinions on this.

Interviews with students

We will discuss the results from the mindmaps more thoroughly with five students from each of the classes involved. Since the mindmaps are signed we will be able to reflect on individual opinions and experiences of factors which help and hinder motivation, as well as more general views.

Interviews with teachers

In addition to the student interviews we will also talk to the teachers of the two classes. In our conversations we will focus on the role of educational professionals and school organisation.

  • How can educational professionals develop their approaches and attitudes towards the students in order to welcome and include them?
  • How can they help students to deal with various expectations from the students themselves as well as from family, friends, school, community, society…?
  • What additional knowledge do they need concerning the students’ background and present situation to enhance the motivation for school?
  • How can they influence the students’ self confidence in a positive way? Can they create a positive spiral of school success?
  • How can school organise policies and activities to avoid the biggest and most common barriers for motivation? What resources do teachers need?
  • How do they make students regard school as interesting, enjoyable and meaningful?
  • What strategies and methods do they find successful when it comes to enhance the students’ motivation?

Interviews with career adviser and teachers of Swedish as a second language (Sv2)

Other groups of educational professionals that we find important in the mission to stimulate motivation among students are the career advisers and the teachers of Sv2.

The career advisers’ important task is to inform the newly arrived students about the Swedish routes of education and about the requirements of the Swedish labour market. What professions are there and how can you pursue a certain career? In this respect the career advisers have a crucial role in guiding the students towards their goals and dreams. They can also provide the students with necessary tools to substantiate their plans.

The teachers of Sv2 have not only the responsibility to teach newly arrived students Swedish, they are also often very close to the students and help and guide them in other subjects and have a mentor role.

In our study we will interview two career advisers and two Sv2-teachers about their work with newly arrived children and how they guide them through the Swedish school system towards a future profession.

Good Practise

During our study we have already discovered many good practices that could strengthen and increase the motivation for learning among students. We will present three of them:

  • Guided inquiry
  • Dragons Den
  • Europass

The above study about motivation is still Work in progress. More information will be presented as we proceed.