Motivating High School Students

Motivating High School Students

English Composition

December 20th, 2010

Motivating High School Students


Economists and policy makers understand human capital as skills and knowledge that people require in order to be employed as well as to thrive in the modern economy. In education, skills and knowledge are measurable but they represent a component that is superficial in the human capital. There is need for teachers to address the underlying human capital components for the education reforms to be effective. The underlying components may be difficult to measure or uncomfortable to discuss and they include cultural capital, social capital, moral capital, cognitive capital and aspirational capital (Douglas, 2007).

Underlying human capital components

Cultural capital refers to habits, emotional dispositions, linguistic assumptions as well as assumptions that people adopt in childhood. Majority of these including likes and dislikes are adopted by children by the age. Teachers should employ enthusiasm while teaching which leaves the student eager, attentive and motivated. There is need to encourage students to adopt habits that are acceptable by the society such as the ability to work well in a group. This will make the students more acceptable by their peers and other members of the community. It is important to note that what happens at home affects the educational achievement of the child more than the occurrences in the school. Most cases of absenteeism in school could be linked to childhood family factors and thus there is need to involve the parents in the child’s education. There is need for the teachers to understand that some sense of humor and a positive attitude will go a long way in motivating students to become more interested in education.

Social capital is the knowledge required by an individual to conduct themselves in a group or an institution. For one to live harmoniously in such a society, knowledge on the fundamental rules of being courteous is a requirement. There is a relationship between grades, status expectations and social capital; however the strongest association is with language measures. This indicates that bilinguals could have some special benefits for acquiring institutional support required for the school’s success as well as social mobility (Stanton-Salazar & Dornbusch, 1995). This involves being able to interact with other people in a positive or productive way and it is important as it makes a person more attractive to employers and generally the community. For the students to be desirable members of the community it is important to inform them on the negative effects of drug and substance abuse on their education. Teamwork should be emphasized to enable student work together with others including their peers and be productive (Sharan and Tan, 2008). The aim is to enhance quality in all aspects of responsibility to enhance knowledge and skills of each team member. Teamwork could be enhanced through the inclusion of cooperative strategies of leaning into lesson plans whereby students are put into groups which appeal to the social nature of teenagers. The students can be more involved by making them responsible for the different aspects of the group.

Moral capital is the trustworthiness of an individual and keeping of time especially when it comes to assignments. To motivate students to be responsible and be able to make their own decisions they could be provided with a choice as to which questions to answer and also the books to read. This way they are provided with a chance to be independent and allow them to direct their experience in learning. Some moral characteristics need to be emphasized, such as thriftiness and honesty especially in exams so that students can learn effectively and ask questions concerning the areas where they did not understand. Students ought to acquire traits such as organization skills, should be people who can be depended on and able to work under minimal supervision.

Cognitive capital refers to the ability of people to assess capabilities or sense the feelings of others. This indicates that the students should perceive the classroom structures as well as class work as vital for the success in the future (Greene et al, 2004). Student should be able to make proper and accurate assessments for themselves in relation to their abilities as well as what they are capable of. This could be enhanced by providing the students with a set of questions for assignments and let them make choices on which questions that they could be able to answer effectively and it could assist them develop a proper evaluation of themselves as to what they could do. This is important especially when it comes to making career choices for them to set appropriate goals.

Aspirational capital refers to the ability to sustain hopes as well as dreams for the future, even in the presence of real and perceived barriers. This is the desire to achieve and thus students should perceive the present class work as a crucial part of the success in the future. There is a necessity for students to have an innate desire to succeed in their education and in life in general. Hence the lesson plans should contain a relevant subject matter which is current as well as relevant and creative so that the students will pay close attention to the material. Even though students feel as if they are not capable of succeeding in education they should endure and keep their spirits up while in school. It is the basic desire of humans to work as a team and create value to be successful and thus group work should be encouraged.


Education is an important component in the acquisition of information and skills, but there are underlying factors that affect the education process. For a student to be successful there is need for them to be able to interact well with others, be a team player, trustworthy, honest, able to assess their abilities effectively and keep their dreams of the future in spite of the present situation. The teacher could include current and relevant information; present the students with alternative questions to answer, allow the students to display their talents, show care and understanding to the teenagers.


Douglass, J. B. (2007). The conditions for admission: access, equity and the social contract of public universities. California. Stanford University Press.

Greene, B. A. et al. (2004). Predicting high school student’s cognitive engagement and achievement: Contributions of classroom perceptions and motivation vol. 29 pp 462-482. Oklahoma. University of Oklahoma.

Sharan, S. & Tan, I. G. (2008). Organizing schools for productive learning. Tokyo. Springer.

Stanton-Salazar, R. D. & Dornbusch. S. M. (1995). Sociology of education: Social Capital and the Reproduction of Inequality: Information Networks among Mexican-Origin High School Students Vol. 68. Pp 116-135. JSTOR.

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