Revision [9126]

This is an old revision of TheFinalPaperBJR made by BonnieRobinson on 2018-04-30 09:23:07.


When I began my career in education, a major component to my personal teaching philosophy was helping students develop intrinsic motivation. I didn't realize how challenging that was going to be.

I think I have always been intrinsically motivated. I'm not sure what accounts for that. I wish I could pin point it because that might make it easier to replicate in the classroom. Growing up I attended several different schools and experienced a variety of teaching styles and school settings, so perhaps having the educational rug continuously pulled out from under me contributed to my ability to find motivation within myself. I was constantly trying to adjust and regain my balance. It's possible I learned to be intrinsically motivated by my parents, but then again, I'm not sure what parenting techniques to credit other than their own steady examples which were closely linked to their faith, so in many ways, I could attribute my intrinsic motivation to my own personal faith. We were raised with Colossians 3:23-24 for instruction: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men. Doing ones best was a way of serving God. Personality could play a role. I've always enjoyed the creative process and could conclude that creative people tend to be more intrinsically motivated. I really would like to find the silver bullet to amplify that inner motivation in all of my students.

The current education system is heavily lopsided with extrinsic reward systems, starting in the earliest elementary grades. Students are constantly earning prizes and trinkets and free stuff in return for their efforts - most of which is not creative but is quantitative. By the time the students arrive at my college composition class, many of them have no recollection of coming up with a project or paper on their own. Teachers have assigned very prescriptive work, again reducing (if not obliterating) the creative and emphasizing a measurable outcome. Of course, teaching at a community college, we serve a population where 60% of the newly enrolling students test in under-prepared. A large number of my students claim they have never been asked to write a paper on their own. They tell me about templates or highly structured worksheets they were told to use for the process. Most of my students have never written creatively, certainly not for enjoyment. By and large, my students have rarely been asked to think.

Krug's title, Don't Make Me Think, is a phrase regularly resounded in my classroom at any given time during a semester. Students quickly recognize that my assignments are designed in a way to make them think, and a few of them are excited about the freedom that allows right away. Several of them take a while to get comfortable with the idea, and a few never do embrace it. Personally, I find thinking to be such a rewarding process in itself that I have a hard time understanding the students' perspectives. They will often self-describe as lazy, but I see them put in double (if not triple) the amount of effort to reproduce something rather than to create something unique. My theory on all this is not that students don't want to think, but that they don't recognize what thinking looks like and they aren't aware of the many ways of thinking. It's almost a fixed mindset thing. Students identify either as thinkers or non-thinkers.

In the past, I've attempted to tap in to their intrinsic motivation is by forcing them out of their comfort zones and creating new comfort zones. I quickly try to undo the fear and intimidation students have about thinking by having them do it often and by having the thinking be something more playful. I also try to preserve time and space for reflection, so students can begin to recognize the thinking process at work and see the results.

This course on Web Content Design has given me some new ideas about how I can perhaps have more success in helping students be more intrinsically motivated. I want to develop curriculum and a classroom environment where students are expected to think and to think about thinking, but where they will choose this for themselves. The concepts around Web Content Design made me reorganize my teaching philosophy to make CHOICE a prominent feature.

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