In my class forum there is a great discussion happening in regards to motivation in the classroom. One of my favourite resource articles that came up was this link: http://learni.st/learnings/51349-student-motivations-and-attitudes?board_id=5675
As one of my peers, Sharon Dowling, summed up, “…some of the common threads that run through the PIDP courses:
~ give frequent and constructive feedback
~ create community
~ go for authenticity, point out the value of the lesson to the overall learning goals”
Motivation is strong where there is frequent and constructive feedback, and I would add the idea of fair, accurate, and consistent feedback also. Students see quickly who the keeners are, and some fight for that position, where others, like myself, allow those keeners to rise, and quietly do their work in the background. It is always encouraging to be noticed, especially when you might be more of the wallflower in the class.
Fair means that it is spread around, and does not highlight just a few (which does not mean that it has to be equal…).
Accurate meaning that the feedback should not be a general statement, such as “good work today.” It should be more pointed and deliberate. One way to give feedback for the last example could have been better stated as “Thanks for adding in the valuable input to your team today with the example of the bridge. It brought better insight and clarity into the discussion.” It shows that you are listening to the discussions that are happening, and giving attention to the details of what is being discussed.
Consistent feedback means that it is timely, and happening throughout the course, and not just at the end when the marks arrive.
We are also motivated through community, which needs to be created from the beginning by the instructor. The class will make it their own, but the space needs to be created by the instructor for community to be built.
The last point, Authenticity, needs to be continually monitored and reviewed. The more I as a student can be reminded of why we are learning what we are learning, how does it connect with what we are trying to accomplish, the more I will feel comfortable with the projects, classroom discussions, and other learning moments as they happen.
The role of the instructor throughout the course is very important, not just to provide instruction or information, but to chart the course to allow learning to happen. There was another video link ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=DvJuzE-g7OM ) in which one of the people being interviewed called it being “a guide on the side.” I love that idea of a journey of learning, and that it is not the role of the instructor to be in front of the line, showing the way, but the guide stepping back, allowing the students to do the work, and guide them (using feedback!) along the way. The instructor may be an expert, but spoon feeding students, or clearing all the path away does not help them get the whole picture.
This brings me to another thought along motivation, one that was also raised by my peer, Veerpal Gill, and that is the idea of the motivation of the instructor. How can we as instructors stay motivated ourselves? This connects to the idea of authenticity again, and how students are discerning…they can spot when the teacher has checked out, or is unmotivated, so how do we stay motivated? What are the checks and balances we need to make for ourselves?
My favourite illustration of this is the Champagne tower. As one fills and overflows, it cascades down to the other flutes. How can we ensure we are being filled, and overflowing into the lives of those around us?