3250 Journal Entry: 1
Student Engagement Techniques by E. Barkley
May 17, 2013
Objective: Barkley states, “Many educators believe motivation, sometimes defined as the feeling of interest or enthusiasm that makes somebody want to do something, is at the heart of student engagement. …Yet students’ emotions have been the least studied and most overlooked aspect of classroom teaching.”
Reflective: This quote points to something that I have often puzzled over as one of life’s little mysteries but have never put any serious thought towards it before now. My interest regarding a course (or lack of interest) was something I put away on a shelf since it didn’t seem like it had any bearing on the overall program. Who cared how you felt about a course? In order to finish the program you had to take all the courses, end of story. Sure enough, except for the odd course, the subjects that I was interested in were often the courses I did well in. The opposite was also true; the courses I wasn’t interested in were much harder to do well in. Owing to the concept of motivation, I see now how emotions play such a large part on how we do in a course. The big mystery now is ~ how this concept has been overlooked for so long!
Interpretive: Wlodkowski noticed that, “When there is no motivation to learn, there is no learning….” I guess it’s true what they say, “It takes a genius (or a psychologist) to point out the obvious.” Although now we have the neuroscience to back it up. Most people are probably aware that the ideas they are interested in are the things that they engage in and do well at. Take hobbies for instance, how many hobbyists do you know that produce the most amazing projects? It follows that when we engage in activities we enjoy we are happy and relaxed which leads to endorphins in the blood which lead us to bigger and better ideas and of course, the inverse of what Wlodkowski points out becomes true – there is learning. My theory on this is that every generation has its guiding belief. In the previous generation being ‘intelligent’ was the aspiration, and that seemed to equate specifically to cognitive intelligence. This generation is more inclusive and has added the idea of multi-intelligences, one of which is emotional intelligence. Goleman who coined the term ‘emotional intelligence’ defined it as the ability to examine your own feelings as well as the feelings of others. If we continue along this line of reasoning we find that educators believe that if we have positive feeling for something (such as a course topic) we are motivated to engage with it and that leads us to actively learn (Barkley, 2010).
Barkley suggests that there are two ways in which our emotions can play a large part in our learning, they are; a) the milieu of the learning environment: and, b) the emotional relationship we have to what we are to learn. The ways I can promote that criterion as a teacher are:
- Encourage a respectful classroom environment. This would take the form of confidentiality, respectful listening and constructive criticism by all participants.
- Make myself available for help during regular office hours as well as through a messaging system and online.
- Have an online open forum for questions and discussion.
- Be sure to tie learning goals to multiple domains.
- Point out how the learning content relates to the overall subject matter.
- Be sure that all projects are authentic.
- Have an assessment strategy in place and give prompt feedback.
In these ways I would hope to provide a supportive learning environment that helps students actively engage in the course and realize their potential.
Barkley, Elizabeth F., (2010). Student Engagement Techniques, A Handbook for College Faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.