Student Engagement

Motivate the Students ---- Chapter 5

The Milkshake Question.....

  • In a 2013 survey of 5000 teachers, student motivation was ranked the top challenge for teachers.
  • Blended learning teams must be guided by an understanding of the student perspective and design classes with student motivation as a "guiding star".
  • Schools are not alone in their struggles. More than 75 percent of new products introduced each year fail, McDonald's Arch Deluxe being one of the biggest product "flops" of all time.
  • Companies must understand new and existing products from the customer's point of view.
  • A fast food company researcher was in search of how to improve milk shake sales and decided to take a different approach--explore the consumers' standpoint.
  • The researcher visited a company location to observe what/when customers were actually buying the majority of milkshakes. He returned the next day to question these customers about why they were choosing to purchase a milkshake.
  • Answers varied depending on the time of day, so there was no one-size-fits-all solution.
  • Another example of motivation from the business world is companies trying to motivate employees to take care of their physical health in order to keep the cost of medical coverage low.
  • Many companies offer free or low cost fitness club memberships to encourage workers to lose weight and stay fit. The computer company Dell found that very few employees were taking advantage of the fitness club offer.
  • Dell tried a new program titled "Well at Dell" that rewarded their employees financially for reaching fitness goals. Many employees were willing to improve their physical health because they could improve their financial health at the same time. Employees participating in the program were given a $975 discount off of their medical coverage.
  • Both the milkshake "situation" and the Dell "situation" required a new perspective to motivate participants. Blended learning designs will need the same ingenuity to find the perfect fit for student success and motivation.

The Student Job Question......

  • Students struggle at school because education isn’t a job that they are trying to do.
  • Schools must create an experience that is intrinsically motivating for students. Students need to find joy in learning.
  • Teachers need to see education from the students’ point view.
  • Two core jobs that are the highest priority for students:

1. They want to feel successful by making progress

2. Have fun with their friends.


Three levels in the Architecture of a Job:

  • What and how must teachers integrate to provide these experiences?

  • What are the experiences that teachers need to provide to get the job done perfectly?

  • What’s the job to be done?

The Summit Public Schools' Student Perspective Question......

  • Student agency---- Giving students the power to make personal choices about the direction of their learning. The faculty at Summit also seeks student feedback to make adjustments with the goal of improving future instruction.
  • Individual Mastery---- In traditional settings, students are grouped together and follow a sequential curriculum regardless of whether or not certain benchmarks are met. The entire group moves at the same pace. This sets some students up for future failures because they can’t comprehend current concepts since previous ones were never achieved. Instead, each individual student determines the pace in which they learn. The faculty at Summit found that this encourages students to move forward and learn more because they are experiencing success. They don’t feel they are struggling or “behind the others”.
  • Data and Feedback---- The blended format allows for individualized instruction AND personalized feedback. Students are getting almost instantaneous feedback and data. They KNOW exactly how they are doing…not guessing. The timely feedback also gives students information about where and how they can improve in certain areas.
  • Transparency in Learning Goals---- Summit believes in providing students with clear and focused learning objectives. Both short term and long term. Students are also given a scope and sequence: “what” should I know and approximately “when” should I know it?
  • Quiet, Solitary Reading Time---- Summit believes that a lot of schools overlook this. They provide time during the school day in which students can devote to independent reading. They point out the importance of doing this during the school day because many students are unable to do it outside of school, or they simply will choose not to. Counting on students to do this outside of school, might mean that it won’t get done. This would result in students never practicing a valuable skill.
  • Meaningful Work Experiences---- A great way to engage students is to find ways to make their school work relevant to their lives. Try to create a curriculum that makes personal connections to students’ interests and goals. Also, the collaborative opportunities that the blended format offers teaches students how to develop positive professional relationships and prepares students to work with colleagues later on in their careers.
  • Mentoring---- Summit believes that providing students with mentors shows them that they have a valuable resource and support system. It also teaches them networking skills. The book refers to this as building “social capital”.
  • Positive Group Experiences---- Working collaboratively with students on classroom projects ties into the previous two points. Developing positive relationships as a young adult translates into developing positive professional relationships later in life.

  • Other Benefits----

    –Behavioral issues and attention deficit disorders seem to occur less when students have more of a choice and ownership in their education. For example, allowing students to move around more if needed, sit in a beanbag chair instead of their desk, etc.

    –The percentage of special needs and English language learners struggling in school seems to decrease because students are learning at the appropriate level. The material isn’t too easy/difficult, and students choose the pacing.

The Integration Question.....

  • Final step in fulfilling a job is understanding what resources an organization must have and how to integrate those resources to deliver the identified experiences.

  • If students already believe they understand a concept they can take an assessment and skip ahead.

  • Because students are able to move ahead it is important to have a coherent scope and suggested sequence (can’t lesson plan the night before).

  • Important to post the scope and sequence so students know what is next.

  • Important to provide students an opportunity to explore their passions and learn off-campus (think job shadowing).

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The Blended Question.....

  • Two breakthroughs that improve academic and social climate from a student perspective:


1. Online content is becoming the main mode/method of instruction-

this allows teachers more time to work with students individually and

cultivate relationships.

2. Blended learning can accelerate mastery of content-

this allows students more time for project and exploration based learning, which is more engaging.


  • Student Jobs:


Students view their jobs as making progress and having fun with friends. Educators need to adapt and modify instruction to dovetail with the student view of their jobs.

To Sum Up......

1. In order to be successful, educators must view from a student perspective.

2. The first level is to identify student jobs that overlap with their jobs of progress and fun.

3. The second level is to identify experiences that help those jobs get done.

4. Some of those experiences are universal where others are differentiated.

5. The third level is determining what and how to integrate.

6. Overall, blended or online learning helps educators build a positive climate that leads to effective learning