By Dr. Harry Tennant


by Harry Tennant
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Entries with keyword: progress
Posts 1 - 4 of 4

Monday, October 3, 2011

Nourishing student enthusiasm

Continuing the discussion of The Progress Principle.

The research showed that intrinsic motivation blossomed with a few gestures of interpersonal support. They are called the four major nourishers.

  1. Respect.
  2. Encouragement.
  3. Emotional support.
  4. Affiliation.

The first three can be rare in a business environment but are common in schools. Occasionally one will find a teacher who treats students disrespectfully, but it is relatively rare.

Affiliation is the actions that develop bonds of trust, appreciation and affection among those working together. Developing affiliation is particularly important when the group is not located together. In a business environment, it means building bonds with folks located in remote offices and frequent travelers. In a school, it means taking extra time to build bonds with online students and with students who may share only one class. Bond among members of a collaborative group reduce interpersonal conflicts and encourage the free flow of ideas. So, have some fun together!

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Keywords: progress


Friday, September 30, 2011

Stimulating student enthusiasm

Continuing the discussion of a couple of days ago of The Progress Principle, since progress is so important for motivation, how can it be stimulated? The research described in The Progress Principle was conducted in work environments, not in schools, but the conclusions seem reasonable.

The researchers found that the following events acted as the seven major catalysts to recognizing progress and thus being motivated by it.

  1. Setting clear goals.
  2. Allowing autonomy.
  3. Providing resources.
  4. Giving enough time...but not too much.
  5. Help with the work.
  6. Learning from problems and successes.
  7. Allowing ideas to flow.

These seem mostly self-explanatory. Help with the work is about collaboration. It works in business and we know it works for students too. Learning from problems and successes is about accepting problems and failures as the pathway to success. Allowing ideas to flow is about engaging in discussion and debate about the project at hand.

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Keywords: progress


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Student enthusiasm

I subscribe to the belief that student enthusiasm for learning is as important as learning the prescribed curriculum. Why? Learning can't stop at graduation. The world changes too quickly. Learning must be lifelong, which means that the enthusiasm for learning must be lifelong.

Can we teach enthusiasm for learning? Probably not directly. But here's the good news: everyone starts life with an inate enthusiasm for learning. It's easiest to see in little kids. They're fascinated by learning. Unfortunately, the enthusiasm for learning is worn down in many students after years of schooling. How ironic, and what a shame!

What can be done about enthusiasm for learning?

One approach is to try to mask learning as games or other fun activities. That can help as long as the learning stays paramount and doesn't become overwhelmed by the game.

Learning is often hard work. It often is not entertaining. The ideal is for that hard work to be enjoyable. But is that possible?

Yes. Hard work in which we are fully engaged, called flow, is intrinsically motivating. We like doing it. So, how do we get to that point where students are engaged and intrinsically motivated by learning the prescribed curriculum?

In business, the most common motivation is extrinsic: carrots and sticks. Give rewards for desired performance and threaten consequences for undesired performance. It works to a certain extent. It works well enough to have been the basis for motivating workers for at least thousands of years.

A new book, The Progress Principle, is based on extensive research in the motivation of workers. The findings are that the strongest motivator for work is making progress on meaningful tasks. It's not the carrots and sticks. It's people feeling good about what they spend a lot of the time of their lives doing.

This translates to enthusiasm for learning. First, it's important to make schoolwork meaningful. Let students know how the curriculum fits into a desireable image of their futures. Take the time for field trips or classroom visitors who can relate lessons to life. Second, emphasize that progress is being made. Rather than just attending class day after day, make it clear to students how they are improving, how their knowledge and skills are growing.

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Keywords: progress


Friday, September 23, 2011

The magic of progress

Doesn't it feel great to make some progress?

Our business had a particularly good week this week. Great progress in sales. Great progress on development projects. Solved some knotty problems for customers. It feels good.

Most management books talk about work and motivating employees in terms of the rewards that come from work. They assume that people work for the money. But that is as shortsighted as assuming that students work for the grades.

We spend a large portion of our lives working. It feels great when we see the result as meaningful and when we see that we're making progress. The same applies to students. Kids love to learn. It can be seen most clearly in the youngest children, before they've been confused by seeing learning as a way to get attention and praise.

How can we foster the joy of learning? One way is to make progress visible.

  • Use run charts to show knowledge growth.
  • Use charts to show the reduction of errors.
  • Use checklists to show plans and accomplishments.
  • Use reviews to not only reinforce learning but to remind students of all they have learned.
  • Use and review pre- and post-tests to show students how they've transformed themselves.
  • Celebrate progress, milestones and overcoming barriers.
  • Discuss progress with students to make them aware of their improvement.

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Keywords: progress

  Posts 1 - 4 of 4