A student sitting in front of his laptop.

How To Motivate Students Using Videos

Forty years ago using a video was a novelty in the classroom and this in itself was motivational to students as it was perceived, almost, as a treat – an excitement that served as motivation for the lesson! Video may no longer be such a novelty but it can still be used to motivate students in the classroom.                   

A study, conducted recently, examined the effect of video material when used to motivate students. It became clear that the use of videos (even low-cost self-produced videos) can have a vast, positive effect on students’ motivation to learn. This derives from the following:

– Videos capture students’ interest.

– Videos complement theoretical concepts covered in class.

– Videos can be watched again and again and so prepare students better.

– Videos provide an alternative simple-and-fast way of explaining (as opposed to pages of text to work through). 

– Videos provide students with clear direction.

– Videos show preparatory effort on the part of the teacher which, in turn, inspires students.

It is, however, not only content-specific material that can be used to motivate students to work hard in a specific subject. Here are a few more video-ideas that can be used in the classroom to motivate students: 


A young woman sitting at her desk, looking at a video player floating in the air above her laptop.

Purpose & goal setting

Goal setting videos provide real boosts of motivation – understanding goals and objectives are vital components of motivation. It is near impossible to be truly motivated if there is confusion and uncertainty. Therefore, set clear, achievable goals and communicate these via video. Show the video as often as it takes to remind students where they are heading. If there is a goal there is a purpose. Take time to explain the purpose behind the work – share and express that purpose by means of video!



A further motivator may be a video that gives step-by-step tips for a specific task. Provide students with useful ideas and information that enables them to complete tasks to a high standard. Guidelines and tips give students a sense of security which is a motivator in itself. If they do not know where to begin with a project or assignment they will not be motivated. The opposite is equally true: if they have a few extra arrows in their quivers they will feel more ready to take action. Videos presented in the “5-ways-to… style” are an ideal motivator!


Recognize great work

A student sitting at their desk after receiving an award.

A crucial aspect of motivation is to recognize hard work and achievement. This increases motivation and morale substantially. Applaud individual students’ work and announce their contributions and achievements via video. The video can include specific examples of the praised work and perhaps also point out what difference it makes to the student’s academic path. This will serve to continue to motivate those mentioned in the video, but will also inspire others to give it their best – a competition component is set in motion with this type of video. 

Success of ex-students

It’s easier to achieve success when you can envision it. To see what motivated others to reach the top is often a motivator to the viewer too! So, motivate your students to do their best, in order to achieve their dreams, by showing them short examples of success stories of ex-students. These can be in the form of a testimonial from an ex-student, or they can be presented as an explainer video that tells the story of a successful ex-student. Stories with a problem-solution formula work well (where the protagonist had an obstacle to overcome and succeeded in doing so). For further motivation, the video can also offer a few useful tips to students. Inspirational videos like this will help to uplift and ignite motivation in students. 


Life lessons

Think out of the box – life lessons can motivate you anywhere anytime! Motivational videos do not have to be subject-specific. Starting a lesson with a feel-good story is a great motivator in any classroom. Inspirational stories about life, in general, grabs attention and motivates from somewhere deep inside us as it highlights the good things in life. A video that highlights the meaning of life will wow students and motivate them to do more with their lives, starting right there in the classroom. Use an inspirational quote, a positive message, or encouraging words and turn these into a short video to show to your class. 


Positive messages

Ultimately, positivity and happiness in the classroom are major factors in engagement, motivation, productivity, and eventual success. Two major contributors to positivity and happiness are a feeling of victory and… fun. Inject a fun aspect into the classroom by showing students humorous videos that relate to the topics that you cover. You will be surprised how motivating a little bit of fun can be! Humour and laughter aid the release of the hormone dopamine and thereby increase happiness, which in turn enhances motivation. In the same way, positivity can be increased by sharing positive outcomes through video material. Stories of triumph and victory boost morale and provide motivation for being successful too. Happiness and positivity definitely play a great role in motivation and academic success.