Greifswald Study: German Pupils Motivate Each Other to Learn

Teacher and pupils at the Schule am Bodden - Photo: Kilian Dorner

The results of the international comparative study show that German pupils receive most of their motivation, 34 percent, from their relationships to their peers. A further proportion of the pupils, 29 percent, motivates itself, i.e. without being influenced by their social relationships to their teachers or peers.  27 percent of all test pupils stated that they profited from their relationships to their teachers and their peers and only ten percent indicated that their motivation depended on their teachers. It was shown that in Germany, autonomous thinking and self-regulation, which is expected of youths, have an influence on their attachment behaviour when it comes to pupil motivation. Their relationship to their teachers is often more formal and distanced than for example in Canada.

The majority of Canadian pupils, 57 percent, perceive peers and teachers to be motivating; 20 percent motivate themselves regardless of their teachers and peers. The development of personal and social competences is at the heart of school life in Canada.

The study also examined the situation in Russia and on the Philippines. More than 57 percent of the surveyed pupils in Russia also declared that they were dependent on both their peers and their teachers. In Russia, pupils are taught for several years in one class, which enables the development of social relationships to peers and teachers. On the Philippines, 85 percent of the pupils stated that their motivation was not influenced by social relationships. This might be because the acquisition of knowledge and improvement of own skills and competencies are paramount and that the pupils consequently do not make themselves dependent on social relationships as a source of motivation.

Having motivation to learn is one of the most important factors when it comes to the acquisition of knowledge and skills. A high level of learning motivation is a prerequisite for creativity and improves problem-solving skills. It also makes pupils feel good!

The investigation was carried out with the pupils in a combination of survey, interviews and a fMRI study. A total of 1,088 year 8 pupils from the state of Brandenburg were surveyed in 2011 and again at the end of the school year in 2013.

The results showed strong differences between the perception of peers and teachers in the secondary school pupils’ motivational process. The findings on school motivation of youths in different types of teaching methods deliver new approaches for practical use. Pupils, whose motivation is strongly connected to social ties, can profit for example from group lessons. Whilst individualised teaching methods such as learning office, discovery learning, learning diaries and free-choice learning are better suited to pupils who motivate themselves regardless of their peers and teachers.



Further Information

If you are interested in learning more about the study, please visit the homepage or contact Prof. Dr. Dr. Diana Raufelder directly.


Contact at the University of Greifswald

Prof. Dr. Dr. Diana Raufelder
Department of Educational Science
Chair of School Pedagogy
Franz-Mehring-Straße 47
17489 Greifswald
Tel.: +3834 420 3710