What Happens If Students Are Unmotivated? 5 Absurd Outcomes With Best Remedies

Unmotivated students are a special concern in education. They have zero interest in schoolwork. When students are not interested in learning they won’t do their best to learn effectively. This poses one of the greatest challenges in teaching – increasing student motivation.

motivating an unmotivated student

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What happens if students are unmotivated? This is an important question that we teachers should get into so we can avoid this problem to flourish in our classrooms. Otherwise, our students become passive and even become disruptive.

A classroom with a motivational problem is never an easy space. Students will tend to reject academic challenges and won’t accept instructions. They tend to develop a passive attitude of what will be, will be.

Awareness of the negative results of disinterested students can help us reflect on our practices and recognize essential ways of increasing student motivation. I have tackled this already in my previous post and this time we will delve into the possible results of poor motivation in students so we know what we can do.


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What Happens If Students Are Unmotivated?

No, I won’t be delving into the negatives because there might be reasons why our students are unmotivated. It’s reality. Let’s face it and see what we can do to help students increase motivation and become active participants in learning.

1. Won’t retain information

Unmotivated students are motivated to refuse to learn. Information retention is very poor hence their academic performance is badly affected. This is because these students see little value in the curriculum and don’t feel its connection to their lives.

With new content and reinforcements, they just give it a shrug of the shoulders and just go on with the day unwilling to learn concepts. They just let it go and just get by restlessly.

Check Mark, Tick Mark, Check, CorrectWhat can we do?

Depict the relevance of the topic to real-life situations.  Establish connections between what our students are learning in the classroom and the actual world. A commonly disinterested student usually asks when presented with information, “Why should I care?” Therefore, we should clearly communicate the learning objectives to the students so they can visualize their importance.

By relating lessons to real life, we can help students see how their classroom learning may be applied to real-world situations. Have students learn the importance of interpersonal communication, for example, and show how important it is to be able to gain more friends in the real world.

Simply put, it’s about teaching students what really works in real life and how they can apply the knowledge they have learned. As we intensify real-life applications of knowledge and skills, our students are willing to explore content and learn at their best.

2. Won’t participate

Disinterested students usually sleep in the classroom, unwilling to participate. For them, learning is never enjoyable or too intimidating for them.

Because they don’t feel the importance of learning, they don’t put effort into what they do and are just content with their present performance. Unmotivated students will just rest on the question, “What can it do to me anyway?”.

Check Mark, Tick Mark, Check, CorrectWhat can we do?

Differentiate Instructions. Unmotivated students lack inspiration and guidance. We are most capable of giving that. As teachers, we should encourage our students to participate by giving them equal opportunities for improvement.

We’ll begin by identifying their learning styles and crafting interesting learning activities that foster participation and positive learning experiences.

Plan out tasks in the classroom that can give them a sense of accomplishment. It gives them encouragement and it boosts their confidence. As they begin to feel that they are really capable of accomplishing things in your class, they get more excited to share their ideas or actively participate in the activities.

With the different teaching strategies that promote collaboration and interaction, every student in our class is stimulated to be active and perform challenging tasks.

3. Become disruptive

Unmotivated students can develop unwanted behavior that may disrupt the whole class. Since they are not interested in learning, they want others to do so too. Thus, they show disruptive behaviors to annoy or influence others.

These students talk ceaselessly even though you’re discussing in front. They just don’t listen and they have their world.

Additionally, when students are frustrated and feel unsafe in the classroom, they feed themselves with negative thoughts that can be visible in their actions.  What is the best thing to do? Should we resort to punishment?

So how should we respond to the challenging and disruptive behavior of unmotivated students?

Check Mark, Tick Mark, Check, CorrectWhat can we do?

Adopt the best classroom management strategies.  We can show our enthusiasm by creating a learning environment guided by warmth, respect, and support. Students will be more encouraged to behave well if they feel your effort and concern. Thus, it is a good idea to establish classroom rules and consistent classroom routines.

Good classroom management is key to a successful and productive learning environment. Students become disruptive if things become so confusing for them. Motivation is often enhanced with a safe and accommodating classroom.

4. Reluctant to academic challenges

When students lack interest in learning, they hate academic challenges. They just want ordinary and usual learning activities so their life in the classroom is easy-peasy.

Like, after reading a story, to develop our students’ critical and creating thinking skills we ask comprehension questions. We will notice a raising of multiple hands for basic informational questions and not a hand on why or how questions.

What could be wrong? Could it be that our students lack the confidence to articulate their thoughts?  The lack of interaction in the classroom is because our students are unresponsive. They are reluctant.

With unmotivated students, collaboration and interaction are more likely impossible to achieve.

Check Mark, Tick Mark, Check, CorrectWhat can we do?

Set high expectations.  Our hard-to-reach students in the classroom need a certain push to make them know that they have our confidence and that we recognize their capacities.

Get them inspired to do more and accept challenges by acknowledging their worth. Provide timely feedback on their activities. Write it. Say it. Make it known that they’re doing good work. They should understand that we are expecting the best from them.

It’s a great way to help students develop their potential. They should bloom in our classrooms. Setting high expectations for our students and teaching them with a growth mindset, no matter what their capabilities are, they will improve and develop to a greater extent.

5. Inattentive

This is a common scenario. Inattentive students are actually the unmotivated ones. They pay no heed and just do what they like in the classroom. But this could be because of some reasons. Let’s not blame it all on students’ thoughtlessness and indifference.

Students don’t listen because perhaps they aren’t engaged or they just can’t do the assigned learning tasks. All they think is to get out of the atmosphere of boredom. Well, maybe it’s for you to change the activity. Have you tried splitting the class into small groups?

Check Mark, Tick Mark, Check, CorrectWhat can we do?

Give roles to everyone.  The whole class should share the learning activities. Stop the lecture and let the students do something. Let them share their insights. A think-pair-share activity is a good option.

Ask questions and allow your students to ask too. This is also a way of initiating active participation from the students. When they are involved in the discussion, they’ll listen.

Making use of games and ice breakers to break the monotony also works. When students are enjoying all tasks, they’ll listen attentively. Also, we can use humor especially in dealing with challenging subjects so students remain on their toes.


When students don’t seem to be doing their best in school, they lack interest and motivation. They get low scores and their grades drop.

As teachers, we have to extend our best to find out why and what’s blocking their way. Identifying what’s getting in the way of our students’ progress should be our first priority when we see signs of motivational problems.

We can always help to get them motivated. By knowing the potential outcomes of students’ lack of interest in studies we can secure ways to keep them engaged and make them active participants in learning.