Week 9 Breadcrumbs

I continue to investigate student motivation.

As Maslow states, people will first satisfy their physical needs before their belonging needs and esteem needs.  People will also satisfy deficit needs (those things that are not yet satisfied) before meeting growth needs to expand and extend a person.  

Edward Deci and Richard Ryan suggest that personal motivation takes into account 3 basal human needs - 

  • Autonomy - the need to feel free of external constraints on behavior
  • Competence - the need to feel capable or skilled
  • relatedness - the need to feel connected to others

Deci and Ryan are focusing of psychological goals, NOT physical needs.  The belief is that one the basic, physical needs of a human are met, they may begin to focus on these other goals - autonomy, competence, and relatedness, that can never be truly 'capped' or satisfied.  Humans strive to satisfy these goals more completely for their entire lives.  

Teachers must first strive to meet students basic needs, which can be difficult in a room of 30 individuals with individual needs.  It is our job to be aware of our students needs and to meet them with the best of our ability.

The goal is for students to have a self-determined motivation.  Self-determination implies a certain level of freedom in the autonomy to CHOOSE to be driven or successful at a certain task.  While students must operate within the constraints of the classroom and curriculum, it is important for students to feel a certain degree of freedom with the content that they are learning.  

In order to cultivate self-determination, there are a combination if internal and external motivators that can be used.  We would like our students to be internally motivated by their own interest in the topic or a personal hunger for mastery of new challenges.  External motivators, such as grades, rewards, and punishments, are also able to motivate students but are less permanent and effective than internal motivations.  As a teacher, our goal is to move students from external motivations to internal motivations.  Easier said than done, friends. 

To support student autonomy, we should allow students some freedom with their learning in the classroom.  Students should be presented with some choices when it comes to how they are completing tasks for class, or how they organize their own spaces (desks, notebooks, lockers, etc).  Students should also be presented with choices so that their learning better suites their interests.  For example, students could be given choices on topics for research projects or posters. 

To support student competence, it is important to incorporate learning activities and inquiry lessons that all students can equally access.  It is also important for us to give students feedback as quickly as possible so that they can implement it and see the effective change immediately.  

In order to support students' need to relate to others, we need to incorporate team activities that encourage cooperative teamwork over competition.  Such activities as jigsaws, placemat activities, teams with assigned roles, and task forces are great ways to encourage team work where each student has an important contribution to the team effort. 

it is IMPORTANT to keep in mind that there is no direct evidence to prove whether allowing students certain autonomy in the classroom actually improves their learning and content retention or just their satisfaction with the learning (I am biased toward the latter).  It is also not proven that differentiation to accommodate all learning levels is the best method of teaching, especially when there are such diverse learners in one classroom (as I am struggling with myself). 

ED 631 - Educational Psychology- Spring 2018

ED 631 - Educational Psychology- Spring 2018

Here is our online home for ED 631 for Spring 2018.

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