Keeping students motivated and focused: The challenge is not a new one, and certainly not exclusive to summer courses, but it can be exacerbated by the siren’s call of warm weather and summer fun that students face when opting to take part in these courses. Today, we’ll examine a few strategies and tools that you can inform them of so they can keep up their motivation, and even improve their focus.

In The Confident Student, author Carol Kanar writes about a few strategies that students can use to give themselves a positive push toward self-motivation. Summarized below are three ways that you can encourage students to get on the right path to staying motivated.

  1. Encourage them to think positively. Reinforce for them that there’s power in thinking about what they do well. By creating a mindset in which they focus on the positive and tell themselves they can work to improve upon their areas of weakness — instead of focusing on the things they don’t do as well and becoming discouraged and less motivated — they’ll feel more inspired to work harder.
  2. Remind students that motivating themselves is their responsibility alone. If they work hard to attain good grades, it’s because they put in the effort to study and build on what you’ve taught them. If they didn’t give it their best shot, blaming anyone else won’t change that.
  3. Tell them that persistence pays off. The attitude that they can work through any challenge by keeping at it will make it more likely that they’ll see progress toward their learning goals. (p. 42)

Rather than being a time to lose focus, summer presents a great opportunity for students to try some low-stakes, enjoyable ways to keep their minds sharp. These suggestions for online memory tools, from Plugged In: Succeeding as an Online Learner, by Joel English, can help students improve their focus, ability to think creatively, and of course, their memories.

English suggests students visit sites that offer them chances to work through interactive puzzles and games. He also points out that many other free, online sites can help enhance memory skills, so students can choose what works for them. One example he gives is Though not specifically related to what you’re covering in your course, these fun online tools can help students improve their attention skills, which certainly has its benefits in the classroom. (p. 169)

Content adapted from Kanar, Carol C. The Confident Student, Eighth Edition. 2014. Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Content adapted from English, Joel A. Plugged In: Succeeding as an Online Learner. 2014. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

How do you advise students to stay motivated during summer courses? What are some of your favorite online tools to enhance focus, whether subject matter related or not? Share with us below.