The IDEA organization, a center for faculty evaluation and development, has created a set of 4-6 page summaries of best practices on a variety of teaching issues. Their very first such paper was on motivating students . This paper contains a wealth of information and some very solid suggestions.
Because the issue of motivating (or engaging) students is so crucial to successful education and because this IDEA paper is so packed with good ideas, I have broken the paper into smaller pieces and have added a few comments of my own. The basic issues covered in the paper are listed below.
Motivating Students 1: General Considerations
Motivating Students 2: Begin with Students Connecting to Student Interest, Values and Attitudes
Motivating Students 3: Begin with Students Connecting to Student Knowledge and Skill
The links below will become available throughout the 2006-2007 school year.
Motivating Students 4: Establishing Relevance Daily Task Why before What Tie to the Past
Motivating Students 5: Establishing Relevance Tie to the Future Be transparent
Motivating Students 6: Connect Elements to Student Levels Tasks
Motivating Students 7: Connect Elements to Student Levels Tests and Grades
Motivating Students 8: Connect Elements to Student Levels How to Push Students Higher
Motivating Students 9: Reward as Motivation Immediate Formative Feedback (shows them that you want them to learn, to grow, to do well)
Motivating Students 10: Reward as Motivation Giving Individual Feedback Giving Group Feedback
Motivating Students 11: Encouraging Student Discovery Activities Active Learning Advantages : Selection and Preparation
Motivating Students 12: Encouraging Student Discovery Activities Active Learning Follow-up
Motivating Students 13: Student-Professor Interactions Establishing Good Connection Communicating About the Right Things
Motivating Students 14: Student-Professor Interactions Keeping Communication Open
Motivating Students 15: Summary
 William E. Cashin, “Motivating Students,” IDEA Paper No. 1, August, 1979.