30 April 2011

3D questions in a 2D world: LEARNER MOTIVATION, EDUCON 2.3

I know it is May, but I have to talk about my session 3 experience at January's Educon 2.3 at SLA. Chris Craft discussed motivation and a new model for framing it. I chose this conversation because I am frequently befuddled by the lack of motivation of even my highest level students. Chris posited the expectancy value theory: level of learner motivation is directly related to anticipated value of completion of a learning task.

So...students want to please you--but not enough to do whatever you ask, if it seems to run counter to what THEY see as value. They opt in when it fits their own agenda. The teacher must have a good relationship to start with, though. Do I think this will work? I must think about their actions differently, I must think about THEIR goals, not mine.
Chris also talked attribution--"are you going to do well?" Why or why not--if why not, then let's work on this attribution (Eccles & Wakefield). Since I teach mostly seniors, this is a critical question. Some of my most gifted students have been making this question part of their learning strategy for years. Some of them are just realizing that is is theirs to ask. I can help with this.

So in my Honors class, instead of asking "what do you contribute" (their only prompted blog post this year), I might have asked "what would this experience (year of World Lit) include that you make you feel like you had created a success for yourself?" OR what would you list as VALUE from this class? Chris commented that we must move beyond flat plane: internal and external consideration of our students, so where will I go next? These are 3D questions from Chris in my 2D world. My challenge: craft 3D world learning in my essential questions.

Is there a place for the unconscious in expectancy value? Of course--my experience and history play into the interactions I have with my students. Their experience and history play a huge role in what they offer to me--they tell me that every day. How do I use these two facts to inform my teaching?In one on one conversations with students, I will guide my comments to alter their self-judgment of value and expectancy. In whole class mode, it should change my essential questions:

1. why do you think what you think? I must ask them.
2. ask them to set goals on micro level--as my essay test reviews do
3. be vigilant with my young people--be care-ful. ALWAYS

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