Motivation results from the interaction between personal and situational characteristics. Someone is self-motivated to perform a certain task. Motivation is therefore intrinsic, but elements from the environment or from a particular situation are needed to initiate motivation. Motivation is always linked to reward. This means that the reward centers in the brain must be stimulated in order for someone to be motivated. Reward in this context is much broader than material reward. Moral and social rewards play a major role. Motivation is not static. It can change depending on the situation. The reward centers of adolescents are quickly stimulated. Social reward in particular motivates adolescents. This applies in particular to appreciation from peers. Compliments from a teacher can also increase the intensity with which adolescents approach a task. Perseverance and goal-orientedness also increase. Compliments only work if the adolescent perceives the compliments as justified. Students are curious, show interest and take pleasure in solving problems if the information is important and if they feel involved in the information. The importance of new information and involvement do not increase by spicing up the information or by explicitly discussing with students not the learning material itself, but the metacognitive skills needed to understand the learning material. Interest and involvement increase by taking the learning material seriously and students seriously.

This means not only having high expectations of them but also demanding performance from them. Task orientation and performance orientation are inextricably linked. Much material should not be learned for its own sake. Learning at school is not a goal in itself for adolescents. The short-term reward, the grade, the compliment or the teacher's disapproval, motivates adolescents to perform. Adolescents recognize long-term goals, but long-term goals do not provide sufficient incentives to really motivate them. Mistakes are part of every learning process. They indicate what has not yet been mastered, but there is a limit to that. At some point a student is judged for his mistakes. He receives insufficient grades or does not pass the exam. Students in secondary education are well aware of this. Education is about acquiring new knowledge and making progress. To achieve this, a student must deliver achievements, but those achievements never stand alone. Performance is always compared with that of other students. It is deceptive to deny this performance orientation towards adolescents. Moreover, adolescents are also very aware of this facet in education.

How to make students more enthusiastic?

The teacher must demonstrate his own enthusiasm for the subject matter. Two things are important with regard to uninterested students. First and foremost, commitment. The teacher shows interest in the students. He is involved without stepping into their personal comfort zone. Secondly, positioning. The teacher does not accept that a student shows no interest and/or no commitment. He measures progress at an early stage and then does so regularly. He provides feedback on interest, commitment and progress in individual feedback.