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Resource Area

Research reports and publications

This area highlights research and materials that can be accessed by educators in order to enhance personal motivation and engagement of their learners. Included are reports, research papers, action research and publications that highlight current evidence related to effective engagement of learners.

Callanan M, Kinsella R, Graham J, Turczuk O and Finch S (2009) Pupils with Declining Attainment at Key Stages 3 and 4: Profiles, Experiences and Impacts of Underachievement and Disengagement. National Centre for Social Research/ DCSF DCSF-RR086

Set in the policy context of increasing young people's participation in post-16 education and training to 90% by 2015. In 2008 the Education and Skills Act was passed, raising the participation age to 17 from 2013 and 18 from 2015. This study sought to inform this agenda by furthering understanding of why a group of young people who have perform well up to Key Stage 3 (KS3), then disengage from education or under-perform at Key Stage 4 (KS4). It also aimed to inform policy thinking on how young people can be better supported to achieve their potential and make a successful transition to post-16 education, training or work.


Scottish Parliament (2006) Pupil Motivation - Education Committee Report SP Paper 537 ED/S2/06/R03 3rd Report, 2006 (Session 2)

Report produced by the education committee reporting to the Scottish parliament focussing on the area of pupil motivation. This stems from its interest in the school curriculum and its effectiveness in engaging and motivating children and young people. Coverage around motivation and engagement includes the following areas:

  • The Purpose of Education
  • Leadership and Motivation
  • Pupil Centered Learning and Multiple Learning Styles
  • The Transition from Primary to Secondary School
  • Vocational Options
  • Home-School and Community Links
  • Sharing of Best Practice


Evans J, Meyer D, Pinney A and Robinson B (2009) Second Chances: Re-engaging young people in education and training

This report gives prominence to young people's voices and contributes a detailed picture of how Barnardo's services work with young people who have disengaged, helping them to make the transition back to education, training or employment. It interprets young people's experiences with the accounts of those working closely with them to understand what succeeds in re-engaging young people and what the barriers and challenges may be. The report is illustrated throughout with young people's stories about why they dropped out and how they view their progress.


Skills for Life Quality Initiative Research Resources: Motivation and persistence

This is one of a series of publications produced under the LSC Skills for Life Quality Initiative to provide up-to-date summaries of research findings from the National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy (NRDC). The main focus is on the factors which motivate young people and adults to take up, persist and succeed in Language, Literacy and Numeracy learning. This paper summarises key messages and themes from NRDC's research and development work on motivation and persistence. Practitioners and researchers have long been aware of the affective as well as cognitive element of learning. Motivation and persistence operate in a continuum that includes, at one end, individuals' awareness of their skills' needs and the confidence required to enrol on a course, and, at the other end, a preparedness to engage in learning, to persist and succeed. Success through learning - skilfully supported by practitioners, who invest time and sensitivity in discovering learners' reasons and motivations for learning


Visser J (November 2003) A study of children and young people who present challenging behaviour. School of Education, The University of Birmingham

Literature review commissioned by Ofsted to look at some of the key research and information available on inclusion and engagement. It covers a number of key areas like furthering inclusion, attitudes and practice, 'micro-teaching', Strategies used by effective teachers: an American Australian view , Theories underlying sound provision, Policies, Programmes responsive to pupils' educational and social needs, Whole-school/unit programmes and targeted interventions, Match teaching to learning style/high expectations, Lessons where pupils with EBD were motivated, Effective approaches to engaging pupils with EBD,  ICT as a motivational aid, 'Combining Educational and Therapeutic Approaches', Approaches for pupils with severe learning, and Interventions that help black pupils.


Grace Jones (2006) Motivation and engagement in young learners: an action research project.

A well-written and interesting piece of research around self-determination in learners and levels of motivation. The action research was undertaken to address low levels of motivation among many young learners below grade-level expectations in literacy and numeracy. Many of the students were observed to lack engagement and were discouraged by the demands of the curriculum, resulting in low motivation. The main goals focused on:

  • Whether providing students with a set of skills and strategies for goal setting would result in higher completion rates of class assignments.
  • How meeting goals for assignments would affect student motivation, or engagement, with their learning. Was there a way to equip these discouraged young learners with tools to help them succeed in daily class work in such a way that they would become excited about learning?
  • How much would the teacher practice need to change in order to incorporate these lessons into the classroom?

There is a good literature review of self-determination available within the report


Boekaerts M (2002) Motivation to learn UNESCO Educational practices series

This booklet explains principles that encourage children to learn and was prepared for inclusion in the Educational Practices Series developed by the International Academy of Education.

Rubak, S, Sandboek, A., Lauritzen, T., & Christensen, B. (2005). Motivational interviewing: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of General Practice, 55: 513, pp. 305-312.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials using motivational interviewing as the intervention.

Ofsted (2008) Good practice in re-engaging disaffected and reluctant students in secondary schools (070255)

This report draws on a survey of 29 secondary schools, including one academy and one pupil referral unit, to identify sustained good practice in re-engaging disaffected students in their learning. The report illustrates the good practice in the schools visited and what might be achieved by others when reviewing support for disaffected students. The report emphasises the importance of also engaging parents and carers in supporting young people.

Books and other publications


Bloom L (2009) Classroom Management: Creating Positive Outcomes for All Students.

A number of useful areas are discussed around inclusion, engagement and motivation of learners. The author tries to provide evidence-based practices including strategies around, motivation and engagement, classroom management, the role of social interaction in learning and behaviour, and conflict resolution. Helpful charts are featured in most chapters that offer a summary of practices that enhance the traits of belonging, autonomy, self-efficacy, and caring in learners. There are also classroom examples and summary of educational research highlighted in boxed features found in many of the chapters that could help teachers understand and enhance their effective strategies. There is also a relevant section on current research and practices


McCombs B and Miller L (2007) Learner-Centered Classroom Practices and Assessments: Maximizing Student Motivation, Learning, and Achievement

The book covers numerous issues around improving student engagement and motivation to learn. Areas include:

  • Learner centred principles
  • Motivational and affective factors
  • Motivational and effective learner centred practices
  • Turning principles into reality


Reid G (2007) Motivating Learners in the Classroon: Ideas and Strategies

The book covers a number of varied issues around the theme of motivating the learner in a classroom setting. Areas include: motivation through feedback, achievement, environment; 24 strategies for motivation; learning styles; emotional literacy; behaviour management.

Scharle A and Szabo A (2005) Learner Autonomy: A Guide to Developing Learner Responsibility

The book focuses mainly on developing intrinsic motivation to learn and learner autonomy. In order to encourage this there is a need to develop a sense of responsibility and to enable learners to take an active part in making decisions about their learning. It covers activities that range from identifying and assessing existing attitudes and knowledge through to self monitoring where learners can best utilise their learning styles.

Brearley M (2002) Emotional Intelligence in the Classroom: Creative Learning Strategies for 11 to 18 Year Olds

The area of Emotional Intelligence and Emotional literacy is still relatively new and there is great debate around its true definition; what it actually is; whether it is a personality trait and how it can effectively be utilised within the education setting. However growing evidence does give some consideration for inclusion when working with learners. Emotional Intelligence looks at self awareness, ability to control emotions and impulses, understanding others emotions and relationship management. This books looks at the relationships between the individual (emotions, behaviour, capabilities, beliefs, identity, actions), their environment and process of learning (thinking, learning styles) in order to effectively engage and motivate learners. There are numerous strategies, approaches, tips and techniques detailed within the book.


Sage R (2004) A World of Difference: Tackling Inclusion in Schools (Emotional Intelligence Collection)

The book focuses on many issues including - personality, intelligence, styles of learning and communicating, social class, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, learning difficulties, disabilities, views and values - and suggests practical strategies to make teachers' lives easier and their learners study less stressful. The book considers how the skills of EI emerge from the interaction of physical, mental, emotional and social development, and suggests initiatives such as 'The Critical Skills Programme' and the 'Communication Opportunity Group Scheme' to give learners more chances to talk, think, express feelings and share views. A comprehensive overview of common learning difficulties and medical conditions in children is also provided - including characteristics of each condition. Classroom management tips are also given in order to help practitioners further develop their management of individuals and diverse groups.


Spevak P & Karinch M (2006) Empowering Underachievers: New Strategies to Guide Kids (8-18) to Personal Excellence

The authors provide techniques on constructively engaging and empowering learners through trying to understand a learner's behaviour on an emotional level. The authors have used various techniques to help motivate over 2000 'failing students' to perform at or near their full potential. They focus on intrinsic motivation to empower the learner by making them aware that they have choices, the capability to choose well, and the opportunity to succeed. The book mainly focuses on four types of 'underachievers'-distant, passive, dependent and defiant with specific interventions, actions and exercises aimed at each 'type'.


Newell S & Jeffery D (2002) Behaviour management in the Classroom- A Transactional Analysis approach

The book uses the therapeutic approach of Transactional Analysis (TA). TA emphasizes a pragmatic approach to personal growth and change, that is, it seeks to find "what works" in helping individuals and, where applicable, develop models to assist understanding of why 'they work'. TA offers a theory of personality; communication; and child development. The book explores ways of creating win-win situations in the classroom and offers practical strategies and solutions to achieve this. The book focuses on:

  • Developing Relationships in the classroom using techniques like moving learners to the OK position;Strokes; Contracts; Role Modelling; Ego states; transactions;
  • Managing Relationships through Life Scripts;Games; Discounting; Winners & Losers


Research Centre for Learning and Teaching

The Research Centre for Learning and Teaching (CfLaT) is part of Newcastle University. The main aim is to research learning and teaching in a range of contexts, particularly in schools and other formal educational contexts, in order to develop understanding for those who want to improve the quality of education. It focuses on a number of key areas which could help engage learners including the application and development of innovative pedagogies, such as learning to learn and thinking skills approaches, in the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) and researching classroom interaction and discourse. There is a section on publications which can easily be accessed.

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