Yes, I, for one, also experience the problem of low motivation among my students.
Last week, I was invited by an elementary school teacher to talk with little kids about "microbes." It surpassed all my expectations. The fourth-graders were so amazingly active, curious, interested, motivated. They looked at me, asked many questioins, tried to write things down. Their faces, their eyes were alive, following me, I'd even say "illumined."
What happens to all that when these kids grow up and, being 18 or 19, come to my freshman-sophomore non-majors biology, A&P, or microbiology class? The contrast is just stunning. Almost no one, with very, very few exceptions, shows interest in what I am saying in lecture. In a class of 60, I sometimes see only 2-3 students who are really listening and trying to comprehend. The rest makes occasional sketchy notes, or writes nothing at all. Some sit with players on their ears. Some use laptop computers, allegedly to take notes - but when I go up the stairs and look across their shoulder, I see that they are checking their e-mails or chatting online.
Overall, the motivation to study for real, to study in order to learn new things, to comprehend things is extremely low at my university. There is, rather, a certain motivation to keep coming to class and take exams, so that some grade would be made, hopefully the passing grade. If it's a minimal passing grade, a D- - so be it. For some students, even an F is OK, because they continue to obtain their scholarship if they only as much as attend classes. It does not seem to bother them much that they are not moving toward graduation. I have an advisee who has already been studying here for her bachelor's degree for 11.5 years.
Most of my students have jobs, and some of them have 40 hours a week jobs that are physically and psychologically very demanding (waitressing, or working as a behind-the-counter person in a grocery store). When I tell them that they HAVE to study at home every night, they just laugh. It's not going to happen for them, they are exhausted after their work shift.
All this "college life," social clubs, activities at fraternities and sororities - that also takes a lot of time and energy of many of my students, and lowers their motivation to study even further.
I don't know. I am afraid the real answer to this problem is to close down a lot of universities like mine. Those who are really smart and gifted academically and willing to study hard in order to learn will find some tough, challenging place, will get scholarship to Harvards and Stanfords. And those who are not willing to study - they should probably learn some trade and just work, like my son-in-laws parents who have no college education but are extremely successful owners of a prosperous construction and remodeling firm.