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Motivational Case Study Liana Zientek Texas State University

Dr. Nancy Langerock Ph. D. CI 5314 Section 002 Fall 2013 Texas State University Round Rock Higher Education Center 10/02/2010
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How a teacher can motivate students to be successful in learning is one of the most challenging problems educators and researchers have. Every student is a unique human being with unique personal experiences, academic knowledge, cultural experiences, cognitive and physical abilities, and emotions. Sally, a high school student, is the subject of a case study that focuses on motivation. Sally is a perfect high school student in many ways. She is a straight A student, wellbehaved and dependable. But despite Sallys academic performance she is an underachiever. She is motivated, but only to achieve high grades and the accompanying respect of her teachers. She over studies for every test, repeatedly reviewing the text and memorizing every possible fact she might be asked to recall. Sally lacks deep understanding of content and interest in learning the subject. She learns only what she is told to learn, in ways she expects to be evaluated. She is driven by extrinsic motivations, which reflects an activity or behavior undertaken for some instrumental value or external reason (Pintrich, 2003, p. 673). The notion that learning has some value aside from being a means to good grades and social recognition simply does not occur to her. She lacks intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that comes from inside an individual rather than from any external or outside rewards, such as grades. The motivation comes from the pleasure one gets from the task itself or from the sense of satisfaction in completing or even working on a task. An intrinsically motivated person will work on a math equation, for example, because it is enjoyable. Or an intrinsically motivated person will work on a solution to a problem because the challenge of finding a solution provides a sense of pleasure. Brophy (1999) emphasizes in his research, based on theories of Perrone, Dewey, Bandura and Csikszenthaily, that educators should encourage students to adapt learning goals rather than
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performance goals. To encourage intrinsically motivated learning, it is necessary to plan instruction of content and activities based on personal identity and the goals of students (Brophy, 1999). In order to foster Sallys intrinsic motivations, her teacher should gather information about Sallys background knowledge, family, interests and agendas. The present teacher should work with Sallys previous teachers and her parents for gathering information about Sallys experiences and goals. The teachers personal observations and questionnaires will help to gain full information about the student. This is the first step for planning strategies to ensure Sallys successful learning. Then teachers can help Sally to set personal learning goals using her background information. According to Brophy (1999) educators can influence and nurture the development of intrinsic motivation to learn by socializing. Three powerful socializing mechanisms that can be used are cognitive modeling, coaching and scaffolding (Brophy, 1999). Sally is popular with other students and she invests considerable energy into social events. Most of her free time is spent pursuing an active and varied social life. Teachers can use Sallys social interest to achieve higher academic goals by assigning more group projects and research activities with her friends. The teachers of algebra, English, history, geometry, art, Spanish, biology, and music can create a unit where students will work in groups on a project that involves knowledge of different subjects. Sallys teachers can use socializing mechanisms and new learning strategies for conducting a successful learning unit. It will bring Sally enjoyment in the process of working on a project with her peers and foster development of her intrinsic motivations. The teacher can scaffold the lesson by selecting activities that will engage Sallys and other students attention based on their interests. The teacher can use coaching strategies by connecting real-life experiences to study material. For example, the teacher can introduce mathematical ideas using
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everyday life problems based on the interest of students. An English teacher can use modeling by connecting actions of characters from a book to the students lives and then discussing those situations from the students point of view and their experiences. Pugh (2011) suggests using a transformative experience construct based on Deweys theory that learning should enrich and expand everyday experience. Three characteristics of the transformative experience are motivated use (applying content in everyday experience), expansion of perception (seeing everyday objects, events, or issues through the lens of the content) and experiential value (valuing content for the way it enriches everyday life) (p. 112). Students would develop a deeper understanding of the content through a transformative experience of learning, which involves an active learning and engagement in the content (Pugh, 2011). For example, Sallys geometry teacher can use transformative experience for learning the concept of slopes. Sallys class can observe structures with different slopes outside and discuss it in the classroom. Students can apply understanding of slopes to their everyday life (walking or driving with different speeds) and think of the world around them in terms of geometry. Sally can conduct research on how knowing the concept of slopes enriches her life (personal interest). It will give her a better understanding of the concept and engage her in the task. Using Pughs transformative experience idea will bring to Sally a sense of enjoyment and fulfillment in studying the subject. Furthermore, Pintrich (2003) points out that social goals may be linked to academic outcomes through self-regulation processes. He explains that an important new area of research is our understanding of motivation by integrating social and academic goals and regulation. He supports his findings that goals motivate and direct students with the research of Ford, Wenzel, Anderman, Patrick and Ryan. According to Wentzel: Social goals, which are often assumed to
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distract from academic pursuits, can be harnessed in the service of academic goals (as qtd. in Pintrich, 2003, p. 675). The research on social goals also highlights the importance of peer groups and interactions with other students as important contexts for the shaping and development of motivation (Pintrich, 2003). Bergin (1999) explains that he classifies factors that influence interest into two groups. The first category of factors is situational. Situational factors such as hands-on activities, discrepancy, novelty, food, social interaction, modeling, fantasy, humor and narrative can be controlled by teacher. These are factors that are more easily manipulated by teachers and should be considered when designing and planning instructional tasks. The second group of factors are individual factors (belongingness, cultural value, identification, emotions) and are generally not under teacher control. Teachers should consider individual factors when planning lessons (Bergin, 1999). Social and cultural aspects in the development of students are very important in planning instructions and motivating students. Vygotsky developed socio-cultural learning theory. He believed that all languages and all knowledge were acquired through social interaction (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2013). Pintrich (2003) highlighted current knowledge claims and directions in motivational science. He describes five basic families of social-cognitive constructs to explain what motivates students in the classroom. The constructs include adaptive self-efficiency and competence perceptions, adaptive attributions and control beliefs, higher levels of interest and intrinsic motivation, higher levels of value and goals motivate and direct students. He uses the theoretical approaches of Bandura, Schunk and Eccles to explain his first construct. Students who believe they can and will do well are much more likely to be motivated in terms of effort and persistence. There is also good evidence to suggest that these confident students will also be
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more cognitively engaged in learning and thinking than students who doubt their capabilities to do well (Pintrich, 2003). In our case study Sally lacks confidence in her intellectual skills and she has systematically taken the safe route in all of her academic endeavors. Sally ignored the school counselors suggestion that she take courses required for acceptance at a selective university. She reported to the counselor that she will be attending the local, regional college. The teachers can use self-efficacy strategies for Sally. Her teachers can give her challenging assignments broken up in stages from easy to difficult and learning strategies for accomplishing those tasks, reinforcing effort and persistence. Sallys math teacher discovered that Sally would like to become a fashion clothing designer and some of her classmates have the same interest. Her teacher prepared a special group assignment for Sally and her group during a study of transformational geometry concepts. The teacher is going to cover the chapter in seven lessons starting from easy concepts to the most difficult. Sallys group project is designed in several steps, covered by each lesson. Each step is going to be graded and the teacher will give her feedback. The teacher will help Sally and her group with positive guidance to accomplish the project. The end product of the project is designing fabric pattern using different geometric transformations of graphs and calculations. When Sally takes on more advanced assignments and performs well with the teachers support, she will believe in her ability to learn. She will understand that she does not have to memorize every single fact. She can use learning strategies for deeper comprehension of the content. Easy comprehension of information will bring enjoyment of learning to Sally, which will help develop intrinsic motivation. Berger and Carabenic (2009) conducted research on how student motivation and use of learning strategies are related in the mathematics classroom. A structural model found that
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student self-efficacy in mathematics predicted their reported use of learning strategies. The results of the study indicate that being confident in ones ability to learn leads to the use of deeper, more sophisticated strategies (Berger & Carabenic, 2009). Wiseman (2012) suggests that one of the ways educators can motivate students is by creating a caring classroom environment and positive studentteacher relationships. He based his conclusion on the work of Erwin, Wigfield, Eccles, Deci, Ryan and Koestner (Wiseman, 2012). Sallys teachers can create classrooms where everyones opinions are respected, students can express their opinions, succeed, make mistakes, but at the end they have satisfying results. This will help to build self confidence in Sallys academic abilities. Maslows classical theory of human needs will support the use of this strategy for Sally. Maslow points out that childs esteem needs and self-actualization needs should be satisfied in order to encourage learning and direct his or her behavior (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2013). In addition, Sallys teachers can introduce a new way of learning the content, such as digital game-based learning. Yang (2012) describes a study that was conducted on the effectiveness of digital game-based learning (DGBL) on students problem solving, learning motivation, and academic achievement. The empirical results of this research demonstrate the quantitative improvement in problem solving and learning motivation in students, which suggests that DGBL can be used as a useful and productive tool to support students in effective learning while enhancing the classroom atmosphere (Yang, 2012). The researchers noted that given childrens intrinsic motivation for games and in light of advancements in technology, digital games should be part of classroom learning. The problem solving of the students improved, because digital games were used to simulate many types of real-life problems, such as addressing residents needs, reducing environmental pollution, and
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tackling unemployment. The simulation provided by digital games has advantages by providing an authentic and relevant context for solving problems. DGBL gives the opportunity for trial and error within a safe learning environment (Yang, 2012). The pleasure that digital games bring will create a positive learning environment for all students in the classroom, including Sally. Researchers suggest several reasons for why this DGBL course promoted students learning motivation. Teachers can learn from the research and use it for implementation of the content in the classroom. Sallys teachers can provide incomplete and challenging gaming tasks which increase learner curiosity and lets learners have control over their progress. Learning topics need to be closely related to everyday life and to provide the setting that encourages students to trust and believe they can achieve their goals by immediately receiving praise, encouragement, and reinforcement (Yang, 2012). For example, Sallys algebra teacher can teach concepts of average rate of change and solving linear equations using the example of global warming and climate change. All mathematical problems and lessons can be designed around this important problem using DGBL. Problems can include questions such as how to reduce human impact on the environment using mathematical formulas and games for studying. This project can be used during learning different mathematical concepts and evolving in more difficult calculations and problem solving questions. This lesson design will help Sally to develop higher order thinking skills and build self-confidence in her ability to learn higher level content. Digital gaming approaches to classroom instruction will help Sally develop her intrinsic motivation (challenge, curiosity and fantasy). DGBL could be scaffolded into a wide variety of lesson plans. Sally has a great potential for learning. She can be very successful in her studies with teachers guidance and facilitation. Sallys interest in learning can be increased by setting
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learning goals, creating a safe learning environment, developing her intrinsic motivations, using challenging group activities, real life problem solving, teaching new learning strategies, developing her thinking and understanding the content, and creating enjoyable activities for learning. Teachers need to identify students like Sally and help them in achieving their potential, building self confidence and encouraging interest in learning.

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References Berger, J. L. & Karabenick, S. A. (2011). Motivation and students use of learning strategies: Evidence of unidirectional effects in mathematics classrooms. Learning & Instruction, 21(3), 416-428. doi:10.1016/j.learninstruc.2010.06.002 Bergin, D. A. (1999). Influences on classroom interest. Educational Psychologist, 34(2), 87-99. EBSCO. Academic Search Complete. Brophy, J. (1999). Toward a model of the value aspects of motivation in education: Developing appreciation for particular learning domains and activities. Educational Psychologist, 34(2), 75-85. EBSCO. Academic Search Complete. Ornstein, A. & Hunkins, F. (2009). Curriculum: foundations, principles, and issues. Boston: Pearson. Pintrich, P. R. (2003). A motivational science perspective on the role of student motivation in learning and teaching contexts. Journal Of Educational Psychology, 95(4), 667-686. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.95.4.667 Pugh, K. J. (2011). Transformative experience: An integrative construct in the spirit of Deweyan pragmatism. Educational Psychologist, 46(2), 107-121. doi:10.1080/00461520.2011.558817 Wiesman, J. (2012). Student motivation and the alignment of teacher beliefs. Clearing House, 85(3), 102-108. doi:10.1080/00098655.2011.653016 Yang, Y. (2012). Building virtual cities, inspiring intelligent citizens: Digital games for developing students problem solving and learning motivation. Computers & Education, 59(2), 365-377. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2012.01.012

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