Rainbows End is a brilliant 2006 science fiction novel by Vernor Vinge. In the book, he describes a world undergoing ever-increasing change after the technological singularity—a premise that the invention of artificial superintelligence will trigger a runaway technological growth that results in unfathomable changes in human civilization. I’m starting to think that what the author envisioned for 2025 is quite possible.
Throughout this series, we’ve explored the four components of Keller’s ARCS Model for Motivation: attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction.
In my last post, I discussed practical ways to motivate your students by making your course content relevant to them in and outside of the classroom.
Today we will look at ways you can motivate your students by boosting their confidence.
In her article, Miller (2015) asserts that “students with self-confidence pay more attention in class, get along better with their peers and generally have a more focused and inquisitive attitude.” She offers creative strategies to improve students’ confidence in face-to-face, online, and blended learning environments:
Provide positive feedback when appropriate.
Give only genuine praise.
Set realistic goals.
Provide opportunities for equal participation.
Create an open, positive environment for learning.
Show enthusiasm for the subject you’re teaching and for your students’ success.
Some other strategies to increase and maintain students’ motivation in the area of confidence include: “making expectations and assignments clear, and making sure students know they can ask questions” (Chesebro & McCroskey, 2002, p. 90).
In both undergrad and graduate school, the enthusiasm and passion of my two favorite communication professors sparked the same enthusiasm and passion in me—not only for the subjects they taught but also to learn and do well in their classes.
My undergraduate professor’s enthusiasm and passion for the fight against human trafficking opened my eyes to this horrible injustice. Our class discussions challenged and inspired me to do all I can to spread awareness and join the fight myself.
My graduate professor’s enthusiasm for the infamous film, The Sound of Music (1965) allowed me to see and appreciate the film and story in a whole new way. Now, I catch myself using the same methods he taught us to notice the cinematic detail in other films, allowing me to appreciate the power of this form of storytelling even more.
In both cases, my new-found passion and enthusiasm increased my confidence in what I learned—directly increasing and maintaining my motivation to learn
In the final post in this series, we will discover the final component in Keller’s ARCS Model for Motivation: Satisfaction.
Chesebro, J. L., & McCroskey, J. C. (Eds.). (2002). Communication for teachers. Pearson.
When you were a kid, what were some of your favorite games and activities? Oftentimes, insight into a child’s future career can be gained by watching how they play.
One of my favorite “toys” as a kid was my family’s handy-dandy cassette recorder. Although now archaic, it was cutting edge in the 70s. My love for recording began at age three, as I unashamedly performed such songs as “Happy Birthday” and “Old Susanna.” As I got older, I started putting together my own radio shows, which I thought were genius works of comedy.
So, how did this childhood interest translate into a career? I became a professional broadcaster.
Yes, it’s true. For the first twenty-plus years of my adult life, I worked in radio. I’ve hosted music shows, served as a reporter and news anchor, conducted interviews, and scripted more commercials than I can count. I have even taught audio production and broadcasting courses at the college level. Those childhood interests really were a forecasting of my future.
Fast forward to my current career as an instructional designer. How does my broadcasting background mesh with eLearning? Surprisingly, in many ways. Here’s what instructional design can learn from the world of broadcasting:
Rule of Radio: Take the First Exit
I was mentored by a talent coach who encouraged me to “Take the First Exit” when communicating an idea on the air. Put simply, don’t overwhelm your audience with verbosity. Take the shortest route to the destination by stating information concisely.
Cognitive load theory contends that extraneous material can inhibit learning. After all, the human mind can only handle a limited amount of information at once. Clark, Nguyen, and Sweller (2011) argue that eliminating non-essential content from the learning environment will result in faster and better learning.
Rule of Radio: Prepare Your Audience for What’s Coming Up
Good radio hosts tease what lies ahead. For example, “Stay tuned for your opportunity to win concert tickets right after this song.” This builds anticipation and keeps listeners engaged.
Instructional Design Lesson: Prepare Your Students for Learning
Have a new concept to introduce to the class? Use scaffolding to sufficiently support the learner. According to Chen (2014), this will promote engagement in the task as well as achievement of the learning outcome.
Rule of Radio: One Thought Per Break
On-air personalities report the news, share humorous anecdotes, give prizes away, and more. However, they don’t do it all in one announce break. Rambling on and on will cause the listener to tune out.
Instructional Design Lesson: “Chunk” Your Material
Chunking refers to breaking down large amounts of content into smaller “bite-sized” pieces. As you do so, be sure to cut out extraneous information. According to Pappas (2013), staying on topic is one of the most challenging aspects of content chunking.
Looking at the elements above, we see a common thread: avoid information overload. Whether it’s a radio listener or an online learner, simplicity is the key to engaging your audience. Have any of your former jobs prepared you for the world of online learning? Have any of your childhood dreams become reality through instructional design? If so, I’d love to hear about it.
Chen, S. (2007). Instructional Design Strategies for Intensive Online Courses: An Objectivist – Constructivist Blended Approach. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 6(1), 72-86.
Clark, R. C., Nguyen, F., & Sweller, J. (2011). Efficiency in Learning: Evidence-Based Guidelines to Manage Cognitive Load. Somerset: Wiley.
I spend a lot of mental energy wondering. I wonder if I did this … I wonder why they did that … I wonder if others wonder. I often find myself wondering what helps people learn – including myself. For example, I’m not very mechanically minded. I have spent a lot of sleepless Christmas Eves trying to assemble that awesome present that looked fantastic in the store. I often wonder if there is a better way for me to learn.
Could I be more effective if I attended a class on Some Assembly Required or perhaps watched a YouTube video of Super Handyman? Maybe I should pick up a copy of Assembly for Dummies on my next trip to the hardware store.
Seems I am not alone.
One of the first studies asking the questions I asked above was conducted in the 1940’s by the US Army who had a bunch of guys who needed to learn basic calibration procedures in a short time.
They wondered if it would improve the process if they used a variety of ways to teach. They tried three different methods – the traditional classroom, a book and a film. After the trainings, they evaluated each group and found no significant difference in outcomes between them.
Sixty-four years later.
Years later the introduction of the personal computer and the World Wide Web gave rise to an explosion of online education. Back in the 1990’s when I began developing online courses I wondered if online learning could be as effective as the familiar traditional classroom. Others wondered the same thing. In 2004 a meta-analysis report from Bernard and colleagues accumulated many research studies where they compared learning in face-to-face classes to online courses.
The majority of differences were quite small – meaning that just as in the Army research – learning was equally effective from face-to-face and online versions. With the considerable evolution in technology since 2004 – like the smartphones and cloud-based technologies – I wonder if this is still true.
The US Department of Education wondered the same thing.
In 2010 the US Department of Education did another meta-analysis. This report summarizes experimental comparisons among purely face-to-face, purely online, and the new kid on the block – blended instruction. Just like in 2004, this study concluded online learning was as effective as conventional classroom instruction and neither significantly outperformed the other.
However, this time they found blended instruction to be significantly more effective than both online and face-to-face.
Blended? I wonder why.
What is it about blended instruction making it more effective? I wonder if it’s simply because blended learning allows students to do passive activities like listening asynchronously at home and use face-to-face time for reinforcing interactions.
Maybe it’s because blended learning caters to different learning styles, like visual or kinesthetic. Or could it be because it allows delivery of content through a variety of mediums? I really wonder if it might be because blended gives the faculty time to be more creative making learning more interactive and fun. I wonder if the truth might be that all of these factors contribute to making blended learning one of the most effective ways for students to learn.
So much to wonder about.
Bernard, et al (2004). How does distance education compare with classroom instruction? A meta-analysis of the empirical literature. Review of Educational Research 74, 379-439.