Is technology the answer?

Motivation in the classroom

Motivation is a complex issue, but many schools are searching for easy fixes

After a personal experience of being told to add multimedia links into a lecture to increase motivation within the online classroom, Jen became discouraged with the crutch that technology has become for increasing motivation. Technology may be a tool in which to increase motivation, but it is not the only answer. Technology is changing the classroom environment. Motivation is just one of the key factors that is also changing within that environment.

Quote from teacher in study

"Students clearly take pride in being able to use the same computer-based tools employed by professionals. As one teacher expresses it, 'Students gain a sense of empowerment from learning to control the computer and to use it in ways they associate with the real world.' Technology is valued within our culture. It is something that costs money and that bestows the power to add value. By giving students technology tools, we are implicitly giving weight to their school activities. Students are very sensitive to this message that they, and their work, are important."

"...when students find the use of the Internet and tele-collaboration engaging and motivating, perhaps leading to improvement in self-efficacy, such attitudes may affect the quality and nature of understanding they will develop. Therefore, carefully designed and well-orchestrated network science projects have the potential to empower students to hold positive motivational beliefs and discover what it means to learn and do science."

"You can't motivate students with technology because technology alone isn't motivating. Worse yet, students are almost always ambivalent toward digital tools. While you may be completely jazzed by the interactive whiteboard in your classroom or the wiki that you just whipped up, your kids could probably care less."

Higher self-disclosure by teachers can lead to higher motivation. This had a small sample size without huge results, but relates to the general theory that self-disclosure on the part of the teacher results in higher motivation by the student. Getting to know one another affects the classroom climate and affective learning.

The Five factors that affect motivation are:
  1. Empowerment-Students feel a sense of control over what they learn
  2. Usefulness-Students feel the course is relevant to their goals
  3. Success-Students feel that they can succeed with a reasonable amount of effort
  4. Interest=Students find that the course is fun or relates to them.
  5. Caring=Students feel the instructor and other students care if they learn or not.

Attrition rates and low participation levels in course activities are frequent instructor complaints about online learning environments. This study recommends the following activities to increase motivation:
  1. Ice Breakers (Learners may only selectively participate and read messages. Effort must be taken to encourage them to "meet" all classmates or read all messages in a new topic ice breaker)
  2. Role Play (Learners must have participation guidelines and deadlines to ensure that dialogue takes place. Summarization of discussion is important to bring closure, though effort must be taken to encourage learners to read the summaries)
  3. Guest Lectures (Expectations of guest participation needs to be clear for all participants. Early questions should be posted in advance of the guest's first interactions.)
  4. Debates (Timing must be carefully structured to allow for dialogic interchange between sides. Rebuttals should be deeper and more reflective than in a synchronous debate and appropriate resources and references should be cited)
  5. Peer Feedback (Asynchronous peer feedback encourages more highly reflective feedback than synchronous feedback sessions. As a results, the timing of making the work available for critique and providing feedback is critical. The instructor may wish to allow learners who receive feedback time to ask their respondents for clarification)

This study reports a contract learning strategy in a graduate-level online class, examining whether a sample of 28 students' motivation could indeed be predicted by their online behavior. Results from the study found that the students' online behavior was not a predictor for their motivational status, though there were age and gender differences in their online behavior. The students felt more self-directed and motivated during contract learning, but what they really liked was being able to select assignments that were relevant to their interests and needs.