Student Motivation is the paper which was published on US Centre on Education Policy and shared as a resource on GETideas.org intrigued me to no end. This paper has some interesting perspective regarding the important ideas of student motivation. I am delighted to share them with you.
Motivating students has been a significant part of my journey as a professor. I know how frivolous it may seem to some of professors who are reading this. However, I give personal importance to motivating students. I was once a student myself and I remember despite spending 17 hours on a subject, I still felt unable to perform to my fullest potential. This is because the professor teaching the particular subject gave off bored and frustrated vibes. Those signals were easily transmitted to all of students including me.
I have found myself striving to keep motivation as part of my teaching experience. This is not something based on evaluation. Rather it is what makes me love doing my job. My time invested in higher education has taught me about motivation of professors is either external factors (pay raise, obligations etc.) or internal factors (innovative teaching methods, student’s nurturing). I run an online class while aiming at finding new ways to efficiently motivate my students. All the obligations and fear based methods fail when one has to rely on oneself. I teach all my students to rely on themselves instead of fearing the failures. Especially in the online classes, the students’ motivation keeps them going, logging in regularly on their own. When a student experiences nurturing and growth within a field entirely due to motivation; I am pleased me to no end. This is the part where a student will carry his/her own motivation with him. They will feel pride in doing their work.
I have employed many techniques for effectively motivating my students through Web 2.0 and Social Media. I make use of tools which both my students and I use for creating effective content and embedding that into a learning environment.
Shifting the Power: Peer Nominated Blogging Excellence Rewards
Students are rarely allowed to identify the excellent academic achievements in a class. However, I personally provide them the power to do so. This has always yielded excellent benefits.
In my 17 weeks online class of photography, I always allow my students to write a 500 words blog. This is to realize the importance of writing. Some extra work is often required to keep activities relevant to my class as well as creative and interesting.
I have utilized more often a role playing perspective for effective teaching. To put one in someone else’s shoes is something which has immense learning potential. If someone has to learn the daguerreotype process that was quite popular in 1840s and 1850s, I ask the student to step into the shoes of a parent of those ages who recently lost their child and hired the photographer to take picture of the dead child. The concept is morbid which makes students uncomfortable. However, it was quite normal back then. Photography is not just limited to skillful usage of the electronic instruments. It is more like a bridge between the instrument and rich social fabric which is captured by the instrument. I teach in such a way that student learns this properly.
Other than this, students also engage in visual activities. Comparing and contrasting the photographs and vintage advertisements is a part of those activities. The blogs inspire the proper exchange of information as well. Students are tempted to visit different blogs and ask questions about them.
My course policy is quite innovative, in which I always try to help students reach their potential. There are a few activities by which students can earn extra credit of 20 credit points. There is also a masterpiece Blog Award which may earn a student the credits from 10 – 30 credit points.
The masterpiece blog award is earned by a few students. It is a symbol of prestige. The key requirement is master arrangement of blogs including blogging on time, uploading deeply meaningful and unique content as well as engaging in meaningful dialogue with peers. This way it is not me, rather students themselves who choose the reward.
Following the week 15, I set up a voting system. Every student has to vote for two students. To avoid giving one’s own name, I take the student’s name first and then the list of two other names they nominate for the award. I manage this by setting up a Google Doc form and linking it to our course management system.
Every class I have taught has been different. For earning the reward, you have to earn the votes from at least four of your peers. Once in my class, I had only one winner. This year’s class was amazing in which there were five winners. What is more fun is the way of announcement methods. I create a video in which the avatar of the winner displays the student’s achievement along with Blog screenshots.