New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
This research paper describes preliminary findings of the relationship between the prevalence of lecture versus discussion in course activities, and students’ situational motivational levels collected within that class.
Minimizing student attrition throughout STEM introductory curricula remains a much-sought goal, and can be viewed as a question of student motivation. Research from the psychological domain has established that certain types of motivation correlate with increased enjoyment and value, which unsurprisingly correlates with academic persistence, while other types of motivation may increase short-term performance but ultimately correlate with frustration and decreased persistence. However the question remains: how can instructors facilitate the types of motivations associated with positive outcomes?
Rooted in self-determination theory (SDT) and drawing off of a of weekly-sampled motivation dataset comprising 5810 responses from 27 different courses, this analysis compared four distinct types of motivation, as defined in SDT, to the incidence of two of the most commonly cited in-class activities: lecture and discussion. We found that courses that incorporated more discussion were highly positively correlated with intrinsic motivation, which has been linked to enjoyment and persistence, and highly negatively correlated with extrinsic motivation, which has been linked to stress and attrition. Surprisingly, there was no statistically significant correlation with identified regulation, which is a generally positive engagement in activities for their value, usefulness, or importance, but is still instrumental in nature: students connect the activity with meaningful outcomes but they do not necessarily connect the activity to a deeper sense of self (joy, satisfaction, passion). It is intriguing to consider if this indicates discussion is an opportunity for students to make connections directly between the course content and themselves.
The principles of self-determination theory suggest that discussion activities, as compared to lecture alone, may achieve this effect by better addressing students’ basic psychological needs for autonomy, relatedness, and competence. For example, an open discussion of different learning strategies and challenges may help boost some students’ sense of competence as learners. Discussion that is guided by student choices and is sensitive to individual paths may help support learners’ sense of autonomy. Finally, student-student and student-instructor dialogue may instill a sense of relatedness, or connection to others, provided the discussion context is perceived as facilitative of such a personal connection. However, the specific catalysts which link discussion with intrinsic motivation likely vary for different individuals and course contexts.
While motivation is a very complex phenomenon, this analysis suggests that simply increasing the use of what is already a commonly cited activity may be a meaningful way to cultivate a personally resonant sense of motivation. Our findings raise interesting questions about how the content of the discussion, particularly in introductory STEM courses, might be intentionally shaped to maximize that impact.
Dillon, A. E., & Stolk, J. D., & Zastavker, Y. V., & Gross, M. D. (2016, June), Motivation is a Two-Way Street: Pedagogies Employing Discussion in Addition to Lecture Display More Positive Student Motivational Response Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25758
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