6 tips to keeping students motivated, engaged & making progress at home

29 January 2021

Following on from announcements that teacher assessment will replace this summer’s scrapped exams, and that Ofqual are considering the possibility of some exam board set papers, many students feel resigned to the feeling that they now have less control over the outcome of their grades and are anxious that this will affect their progress to the next stage of their lives.

Already making up for lost time, they are yet again away from the support and structure that a school setting entails. 

Access to, and delivery of, effective home learning is absolutely critical. You’re providing both with Audiopi.

The demands of an assessment culture that so dominates our education system will adapt to the current situation, and yes, our brilliant podcasts will still support your students to excel themselves here.

But you know there is more to education than assessment alone. You know that to truly help students beyond their GCSE and A Level years, you need to develop independent and critical thinkers who are inquisitive and questioning of the world. 

Here are our 6 tips to keep students motivated, engaged and making progress at home:

1. Set expectations

They may not be in a traditional school environment but it’s crucial for students to know they are still accountable for their work. You, their teacher, may not be in front of them in the classroom but you still expect them to complete assignments on time and to a high-quality. This is key to keeping students motivated and giving them structure whilst they are outside of the classroom.

2. Give students purpose

Research demonstrates that students with a greater sense of purpose are more engaged in their education and study more efficiently. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that having a sense of purpose is more motivating than working towards exams. Students need to understand the importance of their education and that its value goes beyond getting the right answer in a test.

Remind students why their learning is still important by encouraging them to think of their wider purpose. It would be a worthwhile exercise to encourage each student to mindmap their goals and consider the bigger picture. What do they hope to achieve by sitting an exam and getting a good grade? Where do they want their education to take them?

By fostering an understanding of the purpose of their learning, we’re connecting students with a world beyond exams and motivating them to continue working hard to achieve their ambitions.

3. Put wellbeing first

This has been and continues to be a challenging time for the whole school community. Mental health and wellbeing have never been more important and whilst students are at home, many might feel isolated and disconnected. Remain vigilant to changes in behaviour, noticing if particular students become withdrawn or less communicative, working closely with your pastoral staff to raise any concerns. 

4. Inspire curiosity

As young children, learning new things is an amazing and fun experience, yet by the time children reach adolescence, this joy can be lost amongst the demands of exam pressure.

But surely a desire for knowledge should be at the heart of education and learning? Podcasts can be an excellent way to encourage this. Giving students the chance to step away from their screens, podcasts encourage critical thinking, foster discussion and reinforce understanding. Students can delve deeper into a specific topic that goes beyond the confines of what’s in the prescribed textbook. And they can listen to them on their daily walk or over breakfast!

Spark curiosity and develop critical thinkers by taking a free trial of our curriculum-aligned podcasts from Audiopi. Click here to try today!

5. Set SMARTER goals

Whether you are in favour of exams or not, they do act as a pinpoint in the academic year, a fixed milestone for students to work towards. To keep up their motivation, be sure to set regular goals for them to work towards, giving their work more purpose and a sense of achievement when they’ve completed it. 

To make sure the goals are clear and attainable, why not try setting SMARTER goals? 

Each one should be:

  • Specific 
  • Measurable 
  • Achievable 
  • Relevant 
  • Time-bound 
  • Evaluated
  • Reviewed

6. Build independent learners

To build students’ resilience and encourage them to take an active role in their learning, consider setting more tasks that need to be completed independently. Foster their curiosity and interest in subjects by facilitating student-led work, providing appropriate scaffolding and support where needed. 

Independent learning not only develops their intellectual curiosity and their self-confidence (both of which will help engage and motivate students learning from home), but it will also provide them with valuable skills to take into further education and the world of work.

Take this further by asking for students’ input into their own learning goals. This will be an empowering experience for students as they feel in control of their education and their future.


The fact that some students will have little motivation to learn following the cancellation of exams is a worrying sign of the state of our education system.

With an assessment-focused approach, we have perhaps lost sight of the purpose of learning. Perhaps we can use this unusual time to turn things around, providing students with a new sense of motivation that is centred around curiosity, creativity and a thirst for knowledge.

Try implementing some of the tips above to keep GCSE and A Level students motivated, engaged and making progress at home this term. Got more suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Tweet us @audiopiuk

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