Principal strategies to establish values
In the last two parts, we discussed two major factors that influence motivation – values and expectancies. Today, we will talk about the strategies to establish values.
Connecting materials to students’ interests
Students are often motivated to engage with the material that interests them or has relevance for important aspects of their lives. If a topic taps into issues that are important to students, they will feel the urge to study it with full interest. For example, topics like the history of rock ‘n’ roll, how to build virtual-reality worlds, movies and philosophy may strongly connect with students’ interests.
Giving real-world tasks
Asking students to solve problems that help them understand the relevance of the task will establish value in them. Teaching abstract theories and concepts may not have the desired effects. For example, using a real-world event as an example will provide students with a context for deeply understanding the theories related to it. For teaching courses related to technology, students can be given real-life projects, so that they can understand how it is to work in a professional environment.
Demonstrating relevance of higher-level skills to future professional lives
Students often concentrate on a particular course material without understanding how the skills and abilities they acquire throughout courses could help them in their careers. For example, students develop skills like reasoning, and oral and written communication skills across courses. Sometimes, students complain about getting lower grades because of their poor quality writing. However, they fail to realise that written communication skills are crucial in a wide range of professions. Therefore, it is important to explain how various skills will serve them in their professional careers.
Showing relevance to current academic lives
Students may not appreciate a current learning experience if they do not see its value relative to their course of study. For example, students who pursue a course in Sociology may not find value in taking a course in Mathematics. It is because they do not realise that Mathematics will come in handy when they take a required Statistics or research methods course. It will be very helpful if teachers could make explicit connections between the content of the current course and other courses to come. This will enable students to understand the value of each course as a building block for future courses.
Showing your own passion and enthusiasm for the discipline
Students often view teachers as their role models. Teachers can feed their own passion and enthusiasm for discipline to their students. Even if students are not initially attracted to your enthusiasm, it may create curiosity in their minds. It will motivate them to find out what excites you. This path will lead them to engage more deeply in the discipline than they had initially planned and also discover the value they had overlooked.
Teachers can also identify what is best for their students. For example, if you think that group interaction is valuable for the course, you can explain the different aspects of such discussions that are important. You could also include evaluation as a part of the final grade.
These are the main strategies to establish values. Value is one of the key features influencing the motivation to pursue a particular goal. Students are motivated to engage in behaviours to attain goals that have a high relative value. So teachers’ role in establishing values becomes crucial as it will directly influence the learning behaviours. In the next episode, we can discuss the strategies to establish expectancy.
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