Shaping Students’ Attitudes in the Classroom
February 28, 2015
What impact does the learning environment have on students’ attitudes and motivation? It is clear that there is a correlation between the learning environment and students’ motivation. Motivation is broken down into intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is motivation that arises internally while extrinsic motivation usually involves some type of external reward. The learning environment plays a significant role in the variance of students’ levels of motivation. Some examples include providing a certificate upon completion of an e-learning course (extrinsic motivation), and closely relating the material to students’ interests (intrinsic motivation). We will explore different examples and study the correlation in more depth.
According to Hartnett, George, and Dron (2011), lack of motivation has been the leading factor of students’ withdrawal from online courses. Online courses rely heavily on students’ motivation. In an online environment, students do not have their instructor’s physical presence which can be difficult for many students considering that they spent most of their lives learning in a face to face environment. In a face to face environment motivation isn’t as crucial as it is online. Students are required to attend class, listen to lectures, and complete assignments. This is also true in an online environment with the exception of physically attending class sessions. The difference is that students are not pushed to read material and complete assignments by their instructor. Instead, they are driven to complete their work through their motivation to succeed. Harnett et al. define self-determination theory as a contemporary theory of situated motivation that is built on the fundamental premise of learner autonomy. The goal here is to lead students to developing intrinsic motivation. This type of motivation is vital in an e-learning environment. If e-learning courses are designed correctly, they will lead to students developing intrinsic motivation which will help them not only succeed in the class but will also be an excellent attribute to have that may lead to a rewarding career.
Kiymet Selvi (2009) conducted a study directed towards PhD students involved in e-learning courses. The goal here was to get their opinion on what they believe motivated them the most in e-learning courses. Two questions were asked in this study. “What are the motivating factors for the online course being conducted? Please explain briefly.” “According to you, what should be done to increase the motivation in an online course?” In this study it shows that deliverability is the most important factor in motivation. This indicates that the instructor plays a significant role in enhancing students’ motivation. Instructors have to be sure to deliver course material in a concise manner. Students need to be provided with clear instruction as to what is expected from them. If students have a clear understanding of what is expected of them, they are more likely to develop a sense of independency. Independency then leads to intrinsic motivation. Presenting students with complicated instruction is likely to deter them from developing intrinsic motivation and encourage student to rely more heavily on extrinsic motivation. According to this study, student involvement is an important technique to imbed in the learning environment. The more involved students are, the more likely they are to feel a sense of motivation. Collaboration is a great way to get students involved in the class. Collaboration also gives students a sense of responsibility. They feel that their role is vital to the overall success of the class. This encourages students to be more involved because they feel that their classmates are relying on their participation. It definitely is difficult to promote student success in an e-learning course since motivation has to be developed among students beforehand. Because of this, I believe that e-learning courses have a lot more to offer than traditional face to face courses. E-learning courses enhance students’ ability to be self-driven.
Many people have different beliefs as to where motivation comes from. Christina Fisher mentioned in her report Asynchronous Learning and Adult Motivation that the perceived origins of motivation are unconscious forces, future goals, feelings of anxiety, instincts, environmental stimuli, drives, and emergent dominant needs. I can see how all of these play a role in creating motivation within students. There are subconscious factors that motivate students that we are obviously unaware about. Future goals are a form of extrinsic motivation. Students are motivated to work hard to reach certain goals. This is common and I’m sure most students have experienced this source of motivation at one point or another. Feelings of anxiety are something that I can definitely relate to myself. Students are encouraged to learn the material for the sake of passing the class due to their anxiety of wanting to reach their graduation date as soon as possible or landing their ideal job. It may also be ones instinct to want to learn something therefore creating motivation but I feel that this factor plays a limited role. Environmental stimuli in my opinion, plays the most significant role in the overall picture. If a student is interested in information technology and because of this decides to take a class in information technology, this does not mean that they are going to have high motivation to succeed in the class. It comes down to the learning environment and content delivery techniques of the instructor. If instructors provide a clear path to follow and do an excellent job delivering the material, they are more than likely to create intrinsic motivation within students. The same can be said about a student taking a course that they have no interest in. If the instructor of the course does an excellent job constructing their course and delivering the material in a concise manner, they can create motivation regardless of their initial level of interest in the course. This can be a complete game changer for students.
As e-learning progresses, there has been an emergence of many technology tools that are implemented in e-learning environments. These technology tools are excellent for increasing students’ levels of motivation. Some examples include Blackboard Discussion, Google Forms, Slide Share and many more. These technology tools increase student involvement. Without the implementation of these tools, it would be near impossible to create motivation within students. Student collaboration leads to the development of a community of inquiry where students can collaborate and exchange opinions on different material. It is important to encourage student collaboration where students learn from one another. By doing this, students are then encouraged to give it their all to show their classmates what they are capable of. Students don’t only want to learn from their classmates, they also want their classmates to learn from them. Collaboration tools are also useful in eliminating some of the pressure from the professor. With the implementation of collaboration tools, students can motivate each other. The first student to post might set the bar fairly high encouraging other students to work as hard as they can to keep up with the initial students’ post. Technology tools are definitely something to consider when developing an e-learning course especially if motivation is the primary goal of the instructor.
As we already went over, motivation is broken down into two categories: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. It is important to keep in mind that intrinsic motivation should be more heavily focused on if creating autonomy among students is the goal. There are many sources of motivation but environmental stimuli play the largest role. With this in mind, professors need to focus on the delivery of instruction and layout of the course. If professors devote their attention to this aspect of the course, students will be far more likely to succeed.
Fisher, C. (2006). Asynchronous Learning and Adult Motivation: Catching Fog in a Gauze Bag. Retrieved February 28, 2015, from http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/233/asynchronous-learning-and-adult-motivation-catching-fog-in-a-gauze-bag
Hartnett, M., St. George, A., & Dron, J. (2011). Examining Motivation in Online Distance Learning Environments: Complex, Multifaceted, and Situation-Dependent. Retrieved February 28, 2015, from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1030/1954
Selvi, K. (2009). Motivating factors in online courses. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 819-824. Retrieved February 28, 2015, from http://www.anitacrawley.net/Articles/SelviMotivating Factors.pdf
Did you fulfill the requirement to make your first post no later than Wednesday in the discussion?
Did you fulfill the requirement to post at least three times in each discussion topic between Monday and Friday?
Did you fulfill the requirement to post the answers to the prompts in your blog no later than Sunday?
Did you fulfill the requirement to reply at least three classmates’ blogs on Saturday/Sunday?
I haven’t yet
Quote your best post(s) from the week and explain why you feel these are the best.
“It is not the information that you are presented that is important, but how you apply that information you learned outside of the classroom.”
I didn’t learn the importance of this until a few days ago. I believe there is a lot of meaning in this quote.
Quote several of the best posts from other students. Explain why you chose the ones you present.
“While the overall situation may appear daunting, e-learning programs may provide partial salutations. This might include the design and implementation of professional development initiatives to 1) teach managers problem solving strategies, 2) motivate managers to continue to use the techniques following the training program and 3) encourage managers to refine their problem solving capabilities.”
Victor did an excellent job showing how e-learning can be applied to professional development.
“Motivating students is one of the greatest challenges instructors face. The topics I choose are important to me because as an instructional designer, I want to make sure that I maximize students’ potential and successful performance in the course by doing everything. I can to make sure the learning environment is at an optimal level for learning.”
I couldn’t agree more with this post. Motivating students is a challenge and it is important to focus on this area as an instructional designer.
What did you learn in the discussion this week that will be useful to you or that changes the way you view something?
This week I learned the correlation between students’ motivation and the learning environment. There are many technology tools that both instructors and students need to take full advantage of to increase motivation.