Michigan Student Inspiration Project

Michigan Student Inspiration Project

The central goal of the Michigan Department of Education’s Student Inspiration Project is to inspire and motivate children from grades four through eight to commit to and more fully engage with their own education.

The project was inspired by research which reveals that student motivation is lacking due to in-and-out of school dynamics.

Research indicates that specific dynamics suppress student motivation

While Michigan’s students know they need to graduate from high school and 77 percent plan to go to college, there are dynamics in play that suppress their inclination to learn.

Specifically, the research reveals that:

  • Kids are too-ready to give themselves a “pass”. A majority believe it is ok to say they are not good in a subject because “some kids just don’t get” that subject. This acceptance of failure is more pronounced among students from lower-income households. For example, 68 percent of Michigan students in homes with annual incomes of less than $25,000 agree that it’s ok to say “I’m not good in math because some kids just don’t get math,” compared to 55 percent of students from households with annual incomes of over $100,000. This pattern holds across subjects.  
  • Students are not convinced that the content being taught in school is meaningful. 93 percent say having an understanding of why they are asked to learn certain things is “very important to student success,” yet only 41 percent say this describes their school “very well.”
  • Current ways of delivering content can fall short in terms of inspiring student engagement in the classroom and with their schoolwork, more generally. 62 percent of Michigan students surveyed believe that schools focus too much on memorization and not enough on thinking. And a majority say that greater use of technology would make school more fun and interesting (86 percent) and that it would help students learn (84 percent) by allowing them to work at their own speed (64 percent) and/or learn outside of the classroom through videos or online lessons (62 percent).
  • Many kids believe that academic achievement and classroom engagement put their social standing at risk. 49 percent say that trying to do well is a reason some kids get made fun of at their school, and 32 percent worry what their friends might think of them if they were to participate often in class.

Ironically, the research reveals most kids do personally value academic achievement and the effort and actions it takes—but they don’t believe their peers share their values.

As the state of Michigan continues to address issues of content relevancy and delivery, the Student Inspiration Project will seek to promote projects and programs that give students ways to: 1) accommodate peer pressure by celebrating learning and achievement; 2) have a say in what and how they learn; and 3) authentically discover that they are not alone in their desire to learn.

The Student Inspiration Project will leverage private funds for support. The project accepts donations through the Library of Michigan Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit, public charity governed by an independent Board of Directors. The Foundation provides opportunities for charitable giving to benefit, among other things, special programs and projects otherwise not provided through state or federal funding.

More information is available about the Student Inspiration Project at www.StudentInspirationProject.org. Parties interested in getting involved can reach Kristen Harmeling at Kristen.Harmeling@YouGov.com or Ann-Marie Mapes at mapesa@michigan.gov or Jeff McNeal at mcnealj1@michigan.gov.
You can start now by donating (below) to the MDE Student Inspiration Project. Thank you for your generosity and commitment to inspiring and motivating students in Michigan! 

Make a TAX DEDUCTIBLE donation to the MDE Student Inspiration Project

Checks: Made payable to: Library of Michigan Foundation, with a notation in the memo line - MDE Student Inspiration Project

Send to: Carolyn Sparks, Executive Director
Library of Michigan Foundation
702 W. Kalamazoo Street
P.O. Box 30l59
Lansing, MI 48909

Online: Go to the Foundation’s website; there is an area to note the "Type of Designation" for the donation - MDE Student Inspiration Project.