In my last post I looked at John M. Keller’s Motivational Design model. The acronym ARCS explains the four major foci: Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction. In this post I want to revisit the a component of the ARCS Motivational Design model and juxtapose it with another earlier post about something I read in the blogosphere. You can read the original post here.
According to Keller, learners need to derive a sense of satisfaction from their learning so that they are incline to continue learning. This, I feel, is something that is often overlooked in education. In my personal practice and from observation, teachers generally do everything possible to motivate learners at the beginning of a study/inquiry cycle. This stage of the inquiry process would be the immersion stage and would relate to the Attention stage of Keller’s model. Through this process of generating interest, I continuously wonder which degree of satisfaction will be achieved by learners and how this satisfaction will motivate them to continue learning.
Curiosity has already been described as a strong source of motivation, but one that can be fleeting. Driscoll (2005)
Teachers, myself included, do everything possible to try and maintain student interest and engagement as students work further in the investigative stage and further until they go public with their inquiry findings. The question that lingers in my mind after every inquiry cycle and at the end of every school year is: “are these students any more motivated to continue their learning now then when we first started? Have I lit a fire in them? Will they continue to explore this or other things that interest them?”
There is definitely a challenge in education today in motivating and ensuring that students are engaged in their learning. The challenge lies in that (and this is by no means a comprehensive list) 1) learners have negative experiences in school that disengage them, 2) learners have negative experiences in their social/family life that disengage them, and 3) when asked, learners would prefer to be doing something else then going to school and learning in a formal education institution. Addressing these issues is crucial in that they act as real barriers to their future learning and interest in learning.
When left to their own, few children would eat broccoli or brussels sprouts and the same is said about school. How many kids beyond grade 5 would actively choose to go to school if there were no one encouraging them and making sure that they were attending and completing the work. As students work further towards completing their grade 12 diploma, the number would continue to diminish until few students remained in school. What’s worse is that a there would be a noticeable difference between boys and girls. Boys are much less likely to feel engaged or interested in their learning. Regardless of gender, what is interesting is that obtaining a grade 12 diploma does motivate students. This I feel is a reality of “frozen futurism” that drives our society and it’s members as described by Professor Smith from the U of A.
Rewards intrinsically interesting practice task performance with unexpected non-contingent rewards, and boring practice tasks with extrinsic, anticipated rewards. Keller
As discussed in the earlier post, my past students would fail me in extrinsic motivation but I would hope that they would say that I never asked them to do something that we all knew was boring. When I read such statements as the one above, I am left to wonder what are the lasting impacts on learners when they are treated, much as Daniel Pink would suggest, like horses with a carrot dangling in front of their heads. The quote is a suggestion from Keller to enhance learner satisfaction. Me, I’m not so sure.
After writing this, I have gained no clarity as to what is going to create the longest lasting effect on learner satisfaction and their willingness to continue learning. I am left with thoughts of my grandfather and his life-long practice of learning and the desire to engage in meaningful work to create a lasting impact on his community. Things that are boring, as stated by Keller couldn’t possibly motivate someone to learn/practice/explore something and in my mind runs the risk of seriously disengaging someone from life-long learning. Humans need meaningful work from which they can derive satisfaction. To me, this idea is simple.
The result, they say, is enhanced motivation on the part of learners, who experience the complexity of problems that is characteristic of real life. Driscoll (2005)