Information

What are effective strategies for increasing concentration and motivation when doing seemingly passive activities such as reading journal articles?

What are effective strategies for increasing concentration and motivation when doing seemingly passive activities such as reading journal articles?

Background

Unfortunately I am not a specialist in Cognitive Science I am just a regular CS student who has big interest in cognitive science.

I want to share with you some interesting observation I am sure all of us familiar with it, however I wonder whether there are some researches about this observation.

As a student I have to do some kind of activities all the time it can be reading papers, solving exercises, talking with classmates, thinking about problem in research. The problem is I find all these activities very different in terms of engagement.

Let us consider solving exercises. This is an activity with a high level of engagement. When you do this you are very concentrated, I noticed that all my mental force are concentrated on this activity. I don't pay attention what happens around. I do hear and see people. However I don't pay attention to them, and I cannot control this state it happens unintentionally/ I wish I could go in this flow when I want, but I cannot. However I know what to do in order to get into this flow, just calm sit down get some exercises and try to solve it.

On the other hand reading papers has less engagement. I usually I set a goal to every day to read a paper (among all other tasks I plan to do every day) even when I don't need to read (of course there are days when I have to spend all day reading papers). The problem is when reading papers I need really quiet place, I get easily annoyed by talking people around me, the best place I found so far is library, but what really makes me crazy is not only people can shatter your peace but my mind doesn't want to concentrate on reading. I very often found myself daydreaming about something when reading paper in this case I have to reread few last paragraphs, just because my mind didn't get them.

(Some thought about academical writings)I thought, what the reason of this problem, maybe we can start to write papers in different way, let say papers without obvious conclusion and result such that to cause you to think about it to derive the conclusion by yourself, maybe the best way to write two version of papers one is open ended and the second with results.

So far, I use the following technique to be concentrated when reading papers, before reading try do something with high engagement, solving exercise, programming a while and them start reading the paper.

Questions

  • What are effective strategies for increasing concentration and motivation when doing seemingly passive activities such as reading journal articles?

All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.
~ Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols
Movement promotes cognitive performance. Either take breaks and exercise, as you already do, or set up your reading in a way that allows you to move while you read:

  • take your book or paper in your hand and walk around in your room or garden while you read, or take it to the park; here is a how-to, if you need one: http://www.wikihow.com/Read-While-Walking, and you can find a lot of essays on "Reading while Walking" through Google
  • some books are available as audiobooks and easy to walk or exercise to
  • buy or build a standing desk and stand while you read or type; even though you don't move around much, your posture is more healthy and you need more muscle to stand than slouch, so you are in fact active in a less obvious way
  • sit on a big exercise ball; similar to standing, this induces you to move around a bit more and use more of your musculature; but keep your regular chair and move back to once you get tired, because slouching on an exercise ball is even worse for your back than on a chair with a supporting back
  • knead something with your hands; there are special balls and other objects for this, like therapy putty, hand exercise kits etc.
  • chew gum; see Does chewing gum mentally help basketball players make foul shots?

Some of my emotional unrest while reading and writing day in, day out comes from the fact that reading and writing are lonely, unsocial activities. Being a person who feels most alive when interacting with others, I simply cannot bring myself to work at home or alone in an office. I find working in the university library to be a partial solution for my need for human company.

The quiet atmosphere doesn't distract me, the other people working there even amplify my own motivation, indeed the relaxed and quiet movements of those taking a break or picking up books gives me enough necessary distraction from my own wandering thoughts to remain focussed on my reading (similarly, I'm unable to sleep in a quiet room, I need the window open and outside sounds to listen to, for my mind to stop circling the same thoughts for many sleepless hours).

And of course you can talk and smile to the other people to the degree that you find comfortable. I often chose a place at an occupied table when I take a break in the cafeteria, smile at people that I meet on my way to the restroom, help those who look lost. At home I would eat alone and look at the wall even when I don't work.

I also like to have the window open and children playing outside. What you like, you'll surely know yourself.


Increasing Concentration

A method that is geared espeacially towards reading scientific texts is SQ3R. SQ3R is short for survey, question, read, recite and review. So instead of "just reading" a text, one is supposed to

  • survey it first to grasp the basic outline by reading the abstract, introduction or table of contents
  • formulate questions as to what it is that one learns from the text

After these two steps you start "really reading" the text, which is the 3R- part of the method. After reading a passage, pause and summarize what you have learned. You can be critical and evaluate the things with respect to a certain criteria (e.g.: how much evidence does the author provide?).

Maybe you don't even have to take this method too literally. You might want to switch the order of the steps a little, or only do some of the things mentioned. Thinking about my way of reading papers, I often do some of the things, but not all of them. But that is of course just my personal experience.

Increasing Motivation

This is maybe the harder part of your question. Goal Setting Theory (Locke & Latham, 2002) might work. According to the theory, setting a specific and challenging goal leads to better performance than a vage and easy goal. In addition, setting a proximal learning goals is recommended, when "the knowledge or skill for attaining a goal is unknown" (Latham & Locke, 2007, p.293). This could be appropriate for a student reading papers, as he is probably not already familiar with the material. Setting a proximal goal also goes well with the notion of reading only a small protion of the text and then summarizing it (the 3R- part from above) as opposed to a more distal goal like: "I want to understand this paper". Using Goal Setting Theory amounts to a form of extrinisc motivation. It does not necessarily get you into a flow. So maybe this is not what you wanted when you asked the question. But after all, having to read a lot of papers as a student is an externally prescribed task.

References:
Latham, G. P., & Locke, E. A. (2007). New developments in and directions for goal-setting research. European Psychologist, 12(4), 290-300. PDF
Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35-year odyssey. American psychologist, 57(9), 705. HTML


A.I.R. == Attention. Interest. Repetition.

A.I.R. is a mnemonic for a technique. If the subject is dryasdust but you need to get over the 'getting-started-hump' or you have a busy schedule using A.I.R. in 5 to 20 minute bursts adds up quickly. The 'trick' is for those 5 minutes you force yourself to be interested in the subject at hand. Like an actor you just pretend. The mind soon follows the behavior. Once you start to unlock the 'secrets' of the subject with enforced interest, motivation usually takes care of itself.

Attention is similar in that it is much easier to concentrate if you know in advance you only have to expend the effort for a short period of time. No dread, no crushing burdens on limited time and resources. Of course, attention benefits from practice and controlling disruptions, but again, the short bursts really help overcome many of the mental roadblocks.

Repetition is the key to building strong memories and linking the learned concepts in useful ways in thought to your expanding knowledge base. A.I.R. pretty much made sure I always at least muddled through coursework I had little aptitude for and that really reduced my stress. As a student, when it got really busy I would just keep a short list of A.I.R. subjects on a post-it note. That way I was less likely to miss the opportunities that occur frequently throughout everyday for quick A.I.R sessions. A.I.R. is about being efficient. Stuck in traffic? waiting in line? empty time slot between obligations? waiting for service? on the can?… ? The brain, speaking from my experience only of course, burns copious amounts of glucose in a day and it seems to get better MPG (Miles Per Glucose) in short bursts with frequent short pitstops. The difference on the outcome for exams was always noticeable if A.I.R. was used for the days or weeks beforehand. For me the A.I.R. technique has been useful over the years for rapidly evaluating new areas of potential interest. An occasional A.I.R. session on old subjects never hurts. Just remember A.I.R.


Traditional organizational change programs face headwinds

Change management programs are facing increasing criticism in both academic and mainstream management circles—not to mention in break rooms and boardrooms across America. 1 While research shows that nearly 70 percent of large-scale change initiatives fail to meet their long-term goals, 2 every day, another CEO sets in motion another large-scale change initiative in an attempt to refocus and redirect employee behavior. It’s no wonder employees are experiencing change fatigue—an overall sense of apathy or passive resignation toward organizational change 3 —at almost the same pace as the failure rate of change management initiatives. And even though many executives recognize the need to change the way we approach change management, most existing resources are still recommending traditional behavior-reinforcement techniques, such as the use of rewards like pay-for-performance. 4 (See sidebar, “Understanding what motivates us.”)

Why such a disconnect? Most change management programs begin with a fundamentally flawed assumption: that all parties involved in the change share an overwhelming common interest. 5 Power dynamics, contextual considerations, and resistance to change are underestimated and even considered anomalous. 6 As a result, no one mentions “many of the emotional and political issues that frequently preoccupy real people in real organizations” during times of change. 7 And after all, organizational change means changing human behavior, notwithstanding little evidence suggesting that behavior can be pliable or predictable. 8

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In addition, the 2008–09 financial crisis shifted the focus of change management in many organizations. Many of today’s organizational changes aim for reduction, efficiencies, and competitiveness rather than growth. 9 This equates to regular budget and staff cuts—and seemingly endless restructuring. Given these trends, change fatigue is unsurprising and, in fact, an entirely rational response.

While weary observers often describe change in terms of false starts, resistance, and fatigue, we believe change can change for the better. It starts with acknowledging that something is lacking in most change management initiatives: the human behavior element. Further, to make large-scale transformations more effective—and more rewarding—organizations need to find ways to link their change management efforts to the emerging lessons of behavioral economics.

Another false start? (Chapter two)

The newly hired CFO was determined to create a compelling case for change. The firm, still in the red a few years after the ’08 crisis, desperately needed a fresh culture around finances, so he put together a case based on numbers and economics. The incentive was simple carrot-and-stick: If you adopt this change, the firm will become more profitable, and bonuses will rise—doesn’t everyone want to make more money? He launched his initiative with the mantra “Act like an owner,” offering educational materials on how the firm makes money. The logic was solid and the communication plan airtight—and yet a year passed with little change around the way his peers and employees approached finances. Indeed, in some areas spending actually rose. Wasn’t everyone interested in earning money?


Improving Adult Literacy Instruction: Supporting Learning and Motivation (2012)

A dults lead complex lives with limits on the amount of time they have to engage in formal learning. This reality, combined with the amount of effort and practice needed to develop one&rsquos literacy skills&mdashgenerally many thousands of hours&mdashmakes supporting persistence one of the most challenging aspects of designing effective adult literacy instruction. The average adult learner&rsquos duration in a literacy program is nowhere close to the length of instruction and practice needed.

How can programs and instructors help motivate students to persist in their efforts? This section explores insights from research about how to shape learning environments&mdashinstructional interactions, structures, systems, tasks, and texts&mdashin ways that encourage persistence.

Psychological studies have identified an impressive array of factors that contribute to individual motivation&mdashincluding self-efficacy, self-control, goal orientations, and interest, among others. Although each of these factors is discussed separately below, it is important to keep in mind that they interact with one another in complex ways to influence a learner&rsquos motivation. For example, the goals people set are related to their self-efficacy&mdashtheir perceived ability to perform well on a task&mdashand the value they assign to the task.

Building Learners&rsquo Self-Efficacy

When learners expect to succeed, they are more likely to put forth the effort and the persistence needed to perform well. More-confident students are more likely to be more cognitively engaged in learning and thinking than students who doubt their capabilities. Indeed, self-efficacy is a strong predictor of many educational and health outcomes and has been associated with better literacy skills.

Self-Efficacy or Self-Esteem?

Self-efficacy is often confused with global self-esteem. Self-efficacy refers to learners&rsquo beliefs about their abilities in a certain area, such as literacy global self-esteem refers to how one feels about oneself generally. While there is little evidence that enhancing students&rsquo general self-esteem leads to increases in achievement, self-efficacy in a particular domain&mdashsuch as education or health&mdashrelates positively to outcomes in that domain.

It can be expected that some adults enter literacy education questioning their ability to learn to read and write. Moreover, beliefs about self-efficacy can decrease in middle age and older adulthood, although this tendency may vary among individuals. Such beliefs can be modified, however, through experience with tasks in which realistic goals are set and progress is monitored relative to those goals.

Setting Appropriate Goals

Goals are extremely important in motivating and directing behavior. Adults often have very general ideas about why they need or want to learn to read and write. To motivate persistence and success, instructors need to help learners break down their learning goals into short-term and long-term literacy goals. If learners set near-term goals, not just distant ones, they are much more likely to experience success, which enhances self-efficacy. Supporting learners&rsquo awareness of progress week-by-week can motivate persistence, as learners reach their near-term goals and recognize that these are the path to reaching long-term goals.

There are also different types of goals, the choice of which can influence learning outcomes:

&bull When a learner holds a mastery goal, he or she engages with a task in order to improve ability the goal is to truly master the task. When students hold this type of goal, the point of comparison is the student him- or herself. That is, the student compares his or her present performance to past performance to gauge improvement.

&bull When a learner holds a performance-approach goal, the goal is to demonstrate his or her ability relative to others the students compare their performance to that of other students, with the goal of demonstrating greater competence.

&bull When a learner holds a performance-avoidance goal, the student&rsquos goal is to avoid appearing incompetent or &ldquodumb.&rdquo Such students would want to avoid appearing to others that they have poor literacy skills.

Learning environments can be structured in ways that encourage learners to set different types of goals. If a teacher emphasizes the importance of mastering literacy skills, learners are likely to adopt mastery goals if a teacher emphasizes relative ability (i.e., the teacher inadvertently makes comments that position adult learners as &ldquogood&rdquo or &ldquobad&rdquo readers), learners are likely to adopt performance goals.

Adopting mastery goals predicts positive outcomes that include persisting at tasks, choosing to engage in similar activities in the future, and using effective cognitive and self-regulatory strategies. Performance-avoidance goals consistently predict negative outcomes, including increased use of self-handicapping strategies and poor achievement. Results for performance-approach goals are mixed, with some studies finding that they are related to positive outcomes and others finding the opposite.

In addition, learners can have certain beliefs about intelligence that can affect their self-efficacy and as a result their personal goals for learning. Students who hold an incremental view of intelligence believe that intelligence is malleable and that it is possible to learn just about anything. These students are likely to adopt mastery goals. In contrast, students who believe that intelligence is fixed so that a person cannot effectively learn more than they are naturally capable of learning are likely to adopt performance goals.

It appears possible, however, to alter beliefs about intelligence. For instance, feedback that focuses a learner&rsquos attention on how learning happens&mdashfor example, on the use of strategies, effort, practice, and the general changeable and controllable nature of learning&mdashcan foster more incremental views of ability with positive outcomes.

Offering Feedback in Ways that Motivate

Self-efficacy requires having fairly accurate perceptions of one&rsquos current competencies. Overestimating one&rsquos ability to read and understand a text, for instance, will not lead to engaging in the behaviors needed to develop new skills. Underestimating one&rsquos abilities may lead to coping or hiding behaviors that prevent the learner from making use of his or her existing skills.

To develop accurate perceptions of their competencies, students need to receive clear, specific, and accurate feedback. The feedback should be appropriate to the learners&rsquo needs and be specific about the area that should be improved.

Assist learners in managing errors. Students of all ages can find errors demotivating. Research suggests the benefits of error management&mdashthat is, leading adults to expect errors as a part of the learning process and then providing strategies for coping with errors and learning from them. Instructors need to know how to recognize and correct ingrained negative attributions by providing feedback that stresses the processes of learning, such as the importance of using strategies, monitoring one&rsquos own understanding, and engaging in sustained effort even in the face of challenges.

Reframe explanations in ways that motivate persistence. Experiences with learning can trigger questions such as: Why did I do badly? (after receiving a low score on an evaluation). Why can&rsquot I understand this? (after failing to comprehend a paragraph). Why can&rsquot I write sentences that make sense? (after being unable to write a coherent short story). The &ldquoattributions&rdquo students form in response to such questions&mdashin other words, how they explain the reasons for their successes and failures to themselves&mdashwill either motivate them to persist or discourage them from doing so.

A learner who is experiencing difficulty comprehending a text, for example, will be more likely to persist if he or she attributes the difficulty to something external (for example, a boring text), something uncontrollable (being ill), or something unstable (feeling depressed that day). A learner who experiences success at a task will be more likely to persist if progress is attributed to something internal (for example, personal enjoyment of reading), controllable (practice, spending a lot of time working on the text), and stable (a belief in one&rsquos ability as a reader).

When a student does not experience success&mdashfor example, if he or she is unable to make sense of the overarching point of a short story&mdashinstructors can help the learner employ reading strategies that can elucidate the story&rsquos meaning and also provide a different frame for thinking about the reasons for the learner&rsquos difficulties and errors. With repeated reframing, instructors can help learners develop attributional styles that allow learners to employ strategies and skills that are more likely to lead them to persist.

Model literacy strategies. Vicarious experience&mdashsuch as observing others successfully perform specific tasks or use specific strategies&mdashis another way to frame learners&rsquo attitudes toward learning and increase self-efficacy. For instance, instructors or students might model literacy strategies or other learning behaviors.

Using Assessments Appropriately

While assessments are important, the ways in which they are administered and the feedback presented can affect learners&rsquo motivation in either positive or negative ways. Stressing the importance of assessments and tests can lead students to adopt performance goals&mdashgoals in which a student compares his or her progress to that of others. As discussed previously, these goals are related to some problematic academic outcomes, particularly when students are preoccupied with the goal of avoiding appearing incompetent. When students are focused on how they compare to others academically, they may use less-efficient cognitive strategies and engage in various self-handicapping behaviors.

To avoid demotivating students, instructors should:

&bull Present the results of assessments privately. Presenting assessment results in a public manner is conducive to students adopting performance rather than mastery goals.

&bull Encourage students to focus on effort and improvement whenever possible. Motivation is strengthened if students feel they can improve if they work hard at a task. Intrinsic motivation is enhanced when students are rewarded on the basis of their improvement rather than on absolute scores.

&bull Allow the student to take an assessment again if he or she does not receive an acceptable score.

Research suggests that teachers can contribute to learners&rsquo negative framing and explanations in a variety of ways, including by:

&bull Communicating, intentionally or unintentionally, to learners that a reading problem is internal to them. Teaching practices that could build negative internal attributions include labeling readers and writers as strong or struggling making obvious assignments of readers and writers to working groups by skill level and encouraging some learners to excel, while exhibiting low expectations for others.


7 Tips to Boost Your Child’s Working Memory

1) Be clear and concise when giving directions. Make sure you have your child’s full attention when giving directions. Remove distractions, get down to their level, and look them in the eye when speaking. Remember to keep directions short and sweet, and to break them down into manageable tasks that won’t cause feelings of overwhelm. By keeping your requests as specific as possible and limiting the number of things you’re asking a child to do at once, you’re setting him or her up for success.

2) Ask your child to repeat directions back to you. After providing directions, ask your child to repeat what you’ve said back to you to ensure they heard you correctly. This extra step is a great way to improve retention, and allows you to fill in any gaps if your child forgot one or more of the things you said.

3) Teach visualization. Teaching your child to create a mental picture of the things you ask him or her to do is a great way to improve working memory. You may need to take it a step further at first and have your child draw his or her mental picture for you, but the more you practice, the better able your child will be at visualizing the things asked of him or her.

4) Break tasks down. Take the time to write out what needs to be done (and when) so your child can visually see what’s expected of him or her, and then work together to ensure each step is completed along the way. This will require more upfront help on your part, but your child will eventually learn how to break large tasks and assignments into bite-sized pieces that are less overwhelming.

5) Teach and supervise organization efforts. If your child struggles with organization due to poor working memory, take the time to teach him or her effective organization strategies, and regularly supervise these efforts to ensure they are maintained. This will help keep your child accountable and on track throughout the school year, and set him or her up for long-term academic success.

6) Encourage note taking. Teaching your child to write down homework assignments, create ‘to do’ lists, and take notes while working on school assignments can have a huge impact on improving his or her working memory. This will require lots of prompts and reminders on your part, but over time your child will learn to use these strategies to stay organized and on task.

7) Use praise. Children who struggle to focus and pay attention often receive a lot of negative feedback throughout the day. Teachers and parents spend a lot of time telling these kids about all of the things they’re doing wrong, and while this isn’t always done deliberately, it can have a huge impact on a child’s feelings of self-worth. Offer praise wherever possible, and make it a point to highlight one (or more) things these children do RIGHT each day. Remember that children ultimately want to please their parents and teachers in everything they do, and when you take the time to recognize their efforts – even when they don’t turn out the way they had hoped – it can have such a positive impact on their self-esteem.


Other Recent Research on Flow

While most of Csikszentmihalyi’s research has focused on American teenagers, his findings have been replicated in Italy (Csikszentmihalyi and Wong, 1989) and India (Sahoo, F. & Sahu, R., 2009). These later studies provided additional support for the universal benefits of experiencing flow. Much of the recent psychological research on flow has expanded beyond collegiate populations, now including the study of flow in the workplace and as an important component in the training regiments of elite athletes. Employees’ experience of flow on the job has often been described as spontaneous and difficult to predict, however, Ceja & Navarro discovered that a balance of enjoyment, interest, and absorption can increase flow, and subsequently employee flourishing, at work (2012). This work has been influential for companies and organizations who wish to increase employee productivity, creativity, and well-being.

Flow has also been studied in secondary education, and researchers discovered that teachers who experience more flow are more adept at applying personal and organizational resources. Personal resources can be thought of as a sense of competency in one’s work, and organizational resources include a supportive work environment and clear professional goals. Increasing educator’s goals and feelings of self- efficacy at work could lead to enriched learning environments for students, making flow an exciting subject of study for psychologists and educators alike.


The Five Steps to Better Listening

The listening process can be broken up into five distinct stages: receiving, understanding, remembering, evaluating, and responding. This is the model most commonly referred to when analyzing good communication, because it helps isolate the necessary skills required at each individual step in the process.

The most important thing to keep in mind though is that listening is, indeed, a process, and one that requires effort. Once you understand how each part makes up the whole, you’ll come out a better thinker, listener, speaker, and communicator. Let’s begin.

1. Receiving

This is the first and most basic stage of the listening process: the act of actually absorbing the information being expressed to you, whether verbally or non-verbally. Not all communication is done through speech, and not all listening is done with ears.

No matter how you’re communicating with another person, the key at this stage is to pay attention. Focus all of your energy on them, by following these three simple tips:

  • Avoid distractions. This is obvious. Don’t have your cellphone out, or your iPod in, or the television on. Don’t try to divide your attention between the speaker and something else. You might think you’re good at multi-tasking, and perhaps you are, but demonstrating a commitment to the act of listening will make you a more respected person among your peers.
  • Don’t interrupt the speaker. You might want to make an assumption about what the speaker is saying, or what they’re about to say – don’t. It’s rude, and you may find your assumption was wrong, which is beneficial to no one. You can, however, practice nonverbal feedback cue, such as nodding, to demonstrate your attention.
  • Don’t rehearse your response. Not yet. At this stage, your job is only to listen. If you start to plan a speech while the other person is speaking, you’re going to miss certain points and not be able to respond to their larger message when it’s your turn to talk.

2. Understanding

This is the point in the listening process where you’re able to plan your response. Understanding takes place after you’ve received the information from the speaker, and begin to process its meaning.

You can do this by asking questions, or rephrasing parts of the speaker’s message. This allows you to demonstrate your active engagement with their words, and help you better understand their key points.

3. Remembering

What good would it do in a conversation if you forgot everything the speaker had just said? This stage of the listening process might seem very similar to the first two, but it goes beyond merely absorbing and processing information.

Remembering is about retaining that information, and the most effective way to do so in an important conversation is to move the key elements of a message from your short-term memory, and into your long-term memory.

There are numerous methods for doing this:

  • Identify the fundamental points. By converting a collection of small details into a central theme, you’re able to create something potentially complicated into an easy-to-grasp general concept. The details will remain in your short-term memory, but isolating the main ideas will help you understand them better, and remember them longer.
  • Make the message familiar. Relate that main idea to something you already know. This should be easy to do – there aren’t many new ideas out there, and chances are the discussion you’re having will trigger old memories and past experiences. Use those to help you retain incoming information.

4. Evaluating

It’s at this stage where you can begin to prepare for your response, but remember: you’re still a listener, not a speaker. After the message has been absorbed, processed, and remembered, you can begin to sort the information into pieces.

  • What is fact, and what is opinion?
  • Was the speaker demonstrating any particular prejudice with their message?
  • What portions of the message, if any, were exaggerated?
  • What parts of their message were interpreted, and which parts were unbiased?
  • What was the speaker’s intent with their message?

After interpreting the speaker’s message, through a combination of understanding, retention, and evaluation, you’re ready to form a response.


Three Ways to Promote Student Ownership of Reading Assignments

T here’s no arguing with Ryan’s (2009) observation that “coming to class prepared and with some background knowledge transforms students from passive to active learners” (para. 3). But how to get our students to this state of “transformation readiness” is an age-old issue challenging most instructors throughout their careers. I’m sure the struggle also extends to my own students, who are aspiring or practicing language-teaching professionals juggling multiple personal, academic, and professional demands. Research shows that reasons for not completing reading assignments also include factors such as reading comprehension, low student self-confidence, and lack of interest in the topic (e.g., Lei, Bartlett, Gorney, & Herschbach, 2010).

Reflecting on my own teaching, I find this is an area I continue to ponder and experiment with to attain desired learning outcomes. If you’ve been thinking about the same things, a quick look at Faculty Focus will turn up many excellent posts by instructors sharing how they get students to do the reading (e.g., Gee, 2014 Weimer, 2012 Van Gyn, 2013 also the Faculty Focus [2010] special report).

Beyond that, however, is a paucity of research in this specific area moreover, that which does exist seems to focus mainly on extrinsic-oriented ways to enforce “compliance,” such as giving pop quizzes, adding extra writing assignments, introducing extra discussion credit points, or providing optional reading guides or questions (e.g., Hatteberg & Steffy, 2013 Lei, Bartlett, Gorney, & Herschbach, 2010 Sappington, Kinsey, & Munsayac, 2002). From the instructor’s perspective, such strategies don’t sound particularly motivating, nor are they likely to get our students excited about reading or developing a perspective that values learning. As we all know, grades do not necessarily reflect students’ engagement, and engagement is much more than mere compliance. Through giving more tests and assigning more papers, might we inadvertently be “helping” create more disengaged achievers?

In response to Weimer’s (2015) question “Are there any other alternatives?” (para. 6), I find the following three strategies have worked, with acceptable varying degrees of success, among my graduate, undergraduate, and diploma-level students alike. Although different instructional, contextual, and learner variables may affect how well they work for you, the level of frustration arising from unproductive discussions because students (on average over 70%, Weimer, 2015) haven’t read the readings is likely to be reduced.

1. Providing choice to promote student ownership. Providing choice deals with “students’ perceptions that their teachers provide opportunities for participation in decision making related to academic tasks [and] allow for student input into class discussion” (Wang & Eccles, 2013, p. 14). In all my courses, students are always given options to (a) select a topic within the course’s scope where they’d like to develop expertise, (b) select from a list of two or three readings for consideration to assume the role of discussion facilitator, or (c) propose a relevant reading or readings to share with the group. As I have repeatedly discovered, when students choose a reading to assume the role of discussion facilitator, they tend to approach the reading differently and, in so doing, advance their own knowledge of the topic more deeply than they would in the role of discussant. This approach leads to greater engagement with both process and product of the reading exploration.

As Chan et al. (2014) noted, “Asking for input on and giving students choices about [readings and how to explore them] helps students understand that their input is valued, which sets the stage for successful student ownership” (p. 111). More importantly, the way we think about how such a sense of ownership emerges must go beyond what lies within the student we need to consider how the different components within the entire learning system of a course interact. When our students can voice an opinion and make decisions about readings, they feel “ownership” because suddenly they have a personal stake in the content, process, and product of that choice. Granted, not all courses can offer such options, but where possible, you can ask yourself, Is there a way to add student choice about readings into my course that promotes a sense of ownership?

2. Providing different ways for students to demonstrate they’ve done the reading. How do you assess whether your students have done the reading? Through quizzes, exams, discussions, a summary or reflective writing piece, or final paper? I teach mainly upper-level courses, and so smaller classes make it easier to consider various “informal” ways students can demonstrate their engagement in and understanding of the recommended/chosen readings. I also don’t require students to purchase textbooks, because there are plenty of level-appropriate, interest-matching articles, either open access or accessible through the library. Over the past decades, I have tried, for example, the following approaches:

  1. Have a sign-up sheet for two to three students to self-select a time/topic for facilitating a warm-up discussion as a team for each week. Members of the facilitating group may also work together to come up with questions to share with the class by posting them at least three days before the discussion. Sharing questions provides everyone a chance to mull them over and request elaboration if they’re unclear.
  2. Alternatively, invite students to contribute questions to the discussion to be facilitated by the scheduled team. I require that these questions be posted to the group’s private website at least three days before the class. This allows (i) the session to address questions of concern and interest to the students, (ii) the questions to be thoughtfully integrated into the discussion by the student facilitators and the session to be planned by the instructor as a whole, (iii) all students to have an opportunity to think about the questions before class, and (iv) the facilitating team or the instructor to acknowledge contributions and channel thinking toward areas to focus on within the allocated time.
  3. Encourage the student facilitators to consider how questions from (a) and/or (b) can be grouped and synthesized in organizing/planning the discussion segment. The warm-up nature of the task necessitates they be selective (through synthesizing/reorganizing and/or collective voting on, say, the top five questions for the warm-up) of the questions they wish to share with their peers. The warm-up discussion is meant to be quite informal and flexible, and students are encouraged to experiment with different formats to get everyone involved. While some students may choose to operate within their comfort zones using the traditional discussion style, I have also been pleasantly surprised at the many ingenious and often fun, engaging ways my students have brought a discussion to life. I often stress that at this stage of their learning, I want them to feel free to explore what they’re reading, and not to worry about task guidelines (often sought by students with lower tolerance for ambiguity or who prefer structures) to follow. Instead, encourage students to let their own and their peers’ needs (through the questions contributed by everyone) take center stage during the discussion. I often weave questions that don’t get picked up during the warm-up discussion into my teaching to ensure that students see their individual questions from their reading are valued.

The benefits of including a seemingly straightforward discussion-facilitation task go beyond getting the students to approach their reading in ways different from how they would if they were not facilitating. These include (as I always explicitly state in a one-page task information sheet) helping students:

  • learn to generate questions meaningful to them and that may be of interest to their peers, and to promote dialogic exchanges among their peers—both essential skills to the work of language-teaching professionals
  • advance their own and their peers’ thinking regarding various topics/questions through exploring those put forward by the team and peers
  • achieve a deeper level of thinking and take ownership of their chosen topic/reading and
  • develop their skills as a facilitator or team facilitator, a life skill applicable both professionally and personally.

3. Providing a post-discussion summary post capturing key contributions. Instead of asking each student to submit a reflective post in writing or by audio-recording, which has its own pedagogical benefits and limitations, I have tried sharing a summary post. I call this my “reflective feedback,” attending to the principle of SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Specific: highlight contributions made by individuals during the informal warm-up discussion. A side note: I typically sit in a corner, observing and taking field notes, and am not directly observable by the students, whatever the seating arrangement. This strategy helps me be very concrete in my feedback in acknowledging both specific and overall contributions made by the students individually and collectively while also highlighting the takeaway points from each discussion. It is also a way to make learning observable in that those thoughts and ideas become shared objects about which further questions and thinking can be explored and built upon within oneself or among the group (Wells, 2000). Measurable: provide a summarizing post no longer than a page. Attainable: ask one or two follow-up questions requiring students to read the post and draw on their experience. Relevant: when possible, selectively link points to individual students’ interests, experiences, and previous sessions. Time-based: I always share the post the very next day on the private class website this time frame creates a bit of distance from the event, but it’s immediate enough that the memory is still fresh. Finally, a trail of such summarizing posts also helps students write a brief, personal reflection at the course’s end about what they’ve learned.

In addition to class feedback, in my feedback to the facilitation team I usually include some guiding questions that members might consider asking themselves to help develop metacognition in learning through self-reflection (Lang, 2012).

  • Have I gained a better/different understanding of the topic through my chosen reading(s) and discussion with my peers? In what ways can my new understanding inform my practices?
  • Have I broadened my thinking or generated new thoughts or ideas not previously formulated? In what area(s) have my thinking and understanding reached new levels?
  • Have I helped my peers clarify their thinking on various questions/issues that concern them, and in doing so clarified my own thinking?
  • Contentwise, in what areas of my reading(s) do I need to clarify my understanding or follow up on? What are some ideas I can apply to my current or future work?
  • Processwise, what have I learned about my ability to promote dialogic exchanges? What can I do differently the next time I facilitate a discussion (an emic perspective) or participate in one (an etic perspective)?

Bonus Idea: Leave one topic open. Among the key topics listed in the course outline, I always leave one open for those who either cannot figure out at least one area of interest, or who are definite about a specific topic that’s not included. Consider having an open topic option to accommodate and value personal interests in the course content and encourage developing those interests. Weave throughout the readings the central idea of teaching for relevance, where “students feel a sense of autonomy when doing work that . . . relates to their interests and has personal meaning . . . provides opportunities for self-exploration . . . and the activities provided are meaningful, relevant, and related to personal interests and goals” (Wang & Eccles, 2013, p. 14).

I have discovered that instead of those methods commonly mentioned in articles for reinforcing reading compliance, taking an informal approach gives students (a) an option to choose readings meaningful or personally relevant to them (b) an opportunity to take ownership of their chosen topic/reading(s) through facilitating a warm-up discussion (c) a way to contribute input to the discussion’s process and product (d) the experience of contributing to the success of each other’s discussion sessions, indirectly encouraging reading, collaboration, and reciprocal exchanges and (e) a glimpse of what they can accomplish by embracing their role as facilitator, with process and product directly relevant to their interests and goals as language-teaching professionals. This combination of approaches dynamically embedded in the learning system can create powerful momentum and interest among students in what their peers have chosen to explore.

As Weimer (2012) pointed out: “Few (if any) instructional strategies are universally effective, and few (if any) accomplish all learning objectives equally well” (para. 7). I couldn’t agree more. As long as we do what we do, each course or instruction/learning session is a mini-adventure—a challenge requiring a unique combination of strategies. The perpetual state of change characteristic of what we do requires that we never stop experimenting by attending to the multidimensional nature of active engagement. What will you experiment with this semester to motivate your students to do the reading?

References:
Baier, K., Hendricks, C., Warren G. K., Hendricks, J. E., & Cochran, L. (2011). College students’ textbook reading, or not! American Reading Forum Annual Yearbook, 31. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1LppErQ

Chan, P. E., Graham-Day, K. J., Ressa, V. A., MST, Peters, M. T., & Konrad, M. (2014). Beyond involvement: Promoting student ownership of learning in classrooms. Intervention in School and Clinic, 50(2), 105-113.

Hatteberg, S. J., & Steffy, K. (2013). Increasing reading compliance of undergraduates: An evaluation of compliance methods. Teaching Sociology, 41(4), 346-352.

Lang, J. M. (2012, January 17). Metacognition and student learning. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/MetacognitionStudent/130327

Lei, S. A., Bartlett, K. A., Gorney, S. E., & Herschbach, T. R. (2010). Resistance to reading compliance among college students: Instructors’ perspectives. College Student Journal, 44(2), 209.

Sapping, J., Kinsey, K., & Munsayac, K. (2002). Two studies of reading compliance among college students. Teaching of Psychology, 29(4), 272-274.

Wang, M. T., & Eccles, J. S. (2013). School context, achievement motivation, and academic engagement: A longitudinal study of school engagement using a multidimensional perspective. Learning and Instruction, 28, 12-23.

Wells, G. (2000). Dialogic inquiry in education: Building on the legacy of Vygotsky. In C. D. Lee & P. Smagorinsky (Eds.), Vygotskian perspectives on literacy research. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Dr. Li-Shih Huang is an associate professor of applied linguistics, Department of Linguistics, and the learning and teaching scholar-in-residence, Learning and Teaching Centre, University of Victoria, BC, Canada. She is also the recipient of the 2014 Humanities Teaching Excellence Award.

This article first appeared in Faculty Focus on September 25, 2015. © Magna Publications. All rights reserved.


References

Click the "References" link above to hide these references.

Abramowitz, A. J., & O'Leary, S. G. (1991). Behavioral interventions for the classroom: Implications for students with ADHD. School Psychology Review, 20, 220-234.

American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Bender, W. N., & Mathes, M. Y. (1995). Students with ADHD in the inclusive classroom: A hierarchical approach to strategy selection. Intervention in School and Clinic, 30, 226-234.

DuPaul, G. J., Eckert, T. L., & McGoey, K. E., (1997). Interventions for students with Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder: One size does not fit all. School Psychology Review, 26, 369-381.

Fiore, T. A., Becker, E. A., & Nero, R. C. (1993). Educational interventions for students with Attention Deficit Disorder. Exceptional Children, 18 ,121-128.

Gordon, M., Thomason, D., Cooper, S., & Ivers, C. L. (1991). Nonmedical treatment of ADHD/hyperactivity: The Attention Training System. Journal of School Psychology, 29, 151-159.

Kemp, K., Fister, S., & McLaughlin, P. J. (1995). Academic strategies for children with ADD. Intervention in School and Clinic, 30, 203-210.

O'Neill, M. E., & Douglas, V. l. (1991). Study strategies and story recall in Attention Deficit Disorder and reading disability. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 19, 671-692.

Pfiffner, L. J., & Barkley, R. A. (1990). Educational placement and classroom management. In R. A. Barkley, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A handbook for diagnosis and treatment (pp. 498-539). New York: Guilford.

Reid, R., & Katsiyannis, A. (1995). Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Section 504. Remedial and Special Education, 16, 44-52.

Sandoval, J. (1982). Hyperactive children: 12 ways to help them in the classroom. Academic Therapy, 18, 107-113.

Resources for Educators Barkley, R. A. (1 990). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A handbook for diagnosis and treatment. New York: Guilford.

Barkley, R. A. (1997). ADHD and the nature of self-control. New York: Guilford.

DuPaul, G. J., & Stoner, G. (1994). ADHD in the schools: Assessment and intervention strategies. New York: Guilford.

Goldstein, S., & Goldstein, M. (1990). Managing attention disorders in children: A guide for practitioners. New York: Wiley.

Parker, H. (1992). The ADD hyperactivity handbook for schools. Plantation, FL: Impact Publications.

Smallwood, D. (Ed.) (1997). Attention disorders in children: Resources for school psychologists. Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.


Personal Assessment

As discussed above, observations of students note taking has been imputed as a surrogate for student attention. Yet as we have seen, this is unreliable and not even supported by authors who were studying note taking. If note taking is not a useful metric, then what other approaches can be used to study student attention spans? A study by Stuart and Rutherford (18) attempted to discern attention of British medical students by asking the students themselves what their attention level was during a lecture. Every 5 min during a lecture, a buzzer would go off and the students would record their own perceived attention level on a 1 to 9 scale. The results showed that attention rose rapidly during the first 10–20 min and then slowly and steadily declined until the end of the 50-min lecture. Attention span did decline after 20 min, but the decline was slow and never went below the initial attention level observed in the first few minutes of the lecture. Interestingly, although the attention level at the beginning of a lecture was not different between second- and fifth-year medical students, the attention level observed at the end of the lecture was significantly greater for fifth-year students compared with second-year students. Had senior medical students somehow learned to pay more attention in class? Were senior students acquiring new skills and techniques to enable them to be alert for longer periods of time than their junior colleagues? In reality, a review of the data shows that the entire difference between second- and fifth-year students was all due to the fact that one class for fifth-year students was taught by an experienced lecturer who did not present to second-year students. Thus, differences in attention appeared to be related to individual lecturers’ teaching styles and not related to the student’s individual abilities to remain attentive. A finding like this should be axiomatic. We have all experienced lectures where the lecture has been so awful and jejune that 10 min of lecture has been 10 min too long, yet for other lecturers 1 h seems wholly inadequate.


Does ADHD Raise the Risk of Car Accidents and Problem Drinking?

Yes. Driving poses special risks for teens with ADHD. Teens with ADHD are two to four times more likely to have a car accident than teens without ADHD.

Teens with ADHD may be impulsive, risk-taking, immature in judgment, and thrill seeking. All of these traits make accidents and serious injury more likely.

Still, studies show that teen drivers with ADHD who take their medication are less likely to have accidents.

Teens with ADHD are more likely to be heavy drinkers than teens without ADHD. They are also more likely to have problems from drinking.

In studies, teens with ADHD were twice as likely as other teens to have abused alcohol within the past 6 months and three times as likely to abuse drugs other than marijuana.

Getting the right treatment for ADHD may help lower the risk of later alcohol and drug abuse.

Discuss driving privileges with your teen in relation to their overall ADHD treatment plan. It’s your responsibility to establish rules and expectations for safe driving behaviors. Be sure to include a discussion about the risks of texting and talking on the phone while driving.


Traditional organizational change programs face headwinds

Change management programs are facing increasing criticism in both academic and mainstream management circles—not to mention in break rooms and boardrooms across America. 1 While research shows that nearly 70 percent of large-scale change initiatives fail to meet their long-term goals, 2 every day, another CEO sets in motion another large-scale change initiative in an attempt to refocus and redirect employee behavior. It’s no wonder employees are experiencing change fatigue—an overall sense of apathy or passive resignation toward organizational change 3 —at almost the same pace as the failure rate of change management initiatives. And even though many executives recognize the need to change the way we approach change management, most existing resources are still recommending traditional behavior-reinforcement techniques, such as the use of rewards like pay-for-performance. 4 (See sidebar, “Understanding what motivates us.”)

Why such a disconnect? Most change management programs begin with a fundamentally flawed assumption: that all parties involved in the change share an overwhelming common interest. 5 Power dynamics, contextual considerations, and resistance to change are underestimated and even considered anomalous. 6 As a result, no one mentions “many of the emotional and political issues that frequently preoccupy real people in real organizations” during times of change. 7 And after all, organizational change means changing human behavior, notwithstanding little evidence suggesting that behavior can be pliable or predictable. 8

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In addition, the 2008–09 financial crisis shifted the focus of change management in many organizations. Many of today’s organizational changes aim for reduction, efficiencies, and competitiveness rather than growth. 9 This equates to regular budget and staff cuts—and seemingly endless restructuring. Given these trends, change fatigue is unsurprising and, in fact, an entirely rational response.

While weary observers often describe change in terms of false starts, resistance, and fatigue, we believe change can change for the better. It starts with acknowledging that something is lacking in most change management initiatives: the human behavior element. Further, to make large-scale transformations more effective—and more rewarding—organizations need to find ways to link their change management efforts to the emerging lessons of behavioral economics.

Another false start? (Chapter two)

The newly hired CFO was determined to create a compelling case for change. The firm, still in the red a few years after the ’08 crisis, desperately needed a fresh culture around finances, so he put together a case based on numbers and economics. The incentive was simple carrot-and-stick: If you adopt this change, the firm will become more profitable, and bonuses will rise—doesn’t everyone want to make more money? He launched his initiative with the mantra “Act like an owner,” offering educational materials on how the firm makes money. The logic was solid and the communication plan airtight—and yet a year passed with little change around the way his peers and employees approached finances. Indeed, in some areas spending actually rose. Wasn’t everyone interested in earning money?


Does ADHD Raise the Risk of Car Accidents and Problem Drinking?

Yes. Driving poses special risks for teens with ADHD. Teens with ADHD are two to four times more likely to have a car accident than teens without ADHD.

Teens with ADHD may be impulsive, risk-taking, immature in judgment, and thrill seeking. All of these traits make accidents and serious injury more likely.

Still, studies show that teen drivers with ADHD who take their medication are less likely to have accidents.

Teens with ADHD are more likely to be heavy drinkers than teens without ADHD. They are also more likely to have problems from drinking.

In studies, teens with ADHD were twice as likely as other teens to have abused alcohol within the past 6 months and three times as likely to abuse drugs other than marijuana.

Getting the right treatment for ADHD may help lower the risk of later alcohol and drug abuse.

Discuss driving privileges with your teen in relation to their overall ADHD treatment plan. It’s your responsibility to establish rules and expectations for safe driving behaviors. Be sure to include a discussion about the risks of texting and talking on the phone while driving.


Personal Assessment

As discussed above, observations of students note taking has been imputed as a surrogate for student attention. Yet as we have seen, this is unreliable and not even supported by authors who were studying note taking. If note taking is not a useful metric, then what other approaches can be used to study student attention spans? A study by Stuart and Rutherford (18) attempted to discern attention of British medical students by asking the students themselves what their attention level was during a lecture. Every 5 min during a lecture, a buzzer would go off and the students would record their own perceived attention level on a 1 to 9 scale. The results showed that attention rose rapidly during the first 10–20 min and then slowly and steadily declined until the end of the 50-min lecture. Attention span did decline after 20 min, but the decline was slow and never went below the initial attention level observed in the first few minutes of the lecture. Interestingly, although the attention level at the beginning of a lecture was not different between second- and fifth-year medical students, the attention level observed at the end of the lecture was significantly greater for fifth-year students compared with second-year students. Had senior medical students somehow learned to pay more attention in class? Were senior students acquiring new skills and techniques to enable them to be alert for longer periods of time than their junior colleagues? In reality, a review of the data shows that the entire difference between second- and fifth-year students was all due to the fact that one class for fifth-year students was taught by an experienced lecturer who did not present to second-year students. Thus, differences in attention appeared to be related to individual lecturers’ teaching styles and not related to the student’s individual abilities to remain attentive. A finding like this should be axiomatic. We have all experienced lectures where the lecture has been so awful and jejune that 10 min of lecture has been 10 min too long, yet for other lecturers 1 h seems wholly inadequate.


References

Click the "References" link above to hide these references.

Abramowitz, A. J., & O'Leary, S. G. (1991). Behavioral interventions for the classroom: Implications for students with ADHD. School Psychology Review, 20, 220-234.

American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Bender, W. N., & Mathes, M. Y. (1995). Students with ADHD in the inclusive classroom: A hierarchical approach to strategy selection. Intervention in School and Clinic, 30, 226-234.

DuPaul, G. J., Eckert, T. L., & McGoey, K. E., (1997). Interventions for students with Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder: One size does not fit all. School Psychology Review, 26, 369-381.

Fiore, T. A., Becker, E. A., & Nero, R. C. (1993). Educational interventions for students with Attention Deficit Disorder. Exceptional Children, 18 ,121-128.

Gordon, M., Thomason, D., Cooper, S., & Ivers, C. L. (1991). Nonmedical treatment of ADHD/hyperactivity: The Attention Training System. Journal of School Psychology, 29, 151-159.

Kemp, K., Fister, S., & McLaughlin, P. J. (1995). Academic strategies for children with ADD. Intervention in School and Clinic, 30, 203-210.

O'Neill, M. E., & Douglas, V. l. (1991). Study strategies and story recall in Attention Deficit Disorder and reading disability. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 19, 671-692.

Pfiffner, L. J., & Barkley, R. A. (1990). Educational placement and classroom management. In R. A. Barkley, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A handbook for diagnosis and treatment (pp. 498-539). New York: Guilford.

Reid, R., & Katsiyannis, A. (1995). Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Section 504. Remedial and Special Education, 16, 44-52.

Sandoval, J. (1982). Hyperactive children: 12 ways to help them in the classroom. Academic Therapy, 18, 107-113.

Resources for Educators Barkley, R. A. (1 990). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A handbook for diagnosis and treatment. New York: Guilford.

Barkley, R. A. (1997). ADHD and the nature of self-control. New York: Guilford.

DuPaul, G. J., & Stoner, G. (1994). ADHD in the schools: Assessment and intervention strategies. New York: Guilford.

Goldstein, S., & Goldstein, M. (1990). Managing attention disorders in children: A guide for practitioners. New York: Wiley.

Parker, H. (1992). The ADD hyperactivity handbook for schools. Plantation, FL: Impact Publications.

Smallwood, D. (Ed.) (1997). Attention disorders in children: Resources for school psychologists. Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.


Three Ways to Promote Student Ownership of Reading Assignments

T here’s no arguing with Ryan’s (2009) observation that “coming to class prepared and with some background knowledge transforms students from passive to active learners” (para. 3). But how to get our students to this state of “transformation readiness” is an age-old issue challenging most instructors throughout their careers. I’m sure the struggle also extends to my own students, who are aspiring or practicing language-teaching professionals juggling multiple personal, academic, and professional demands. Research shows that reasons for not completing reading assignments also include factors such as reading comprehension, low student self-confidence, and lack of interest in the topic (e.g., Lei, Bartlett, Gorney, & Herschbach, 2010).

Reflecting on my own teaching, I find this is an area I continue to ponder and experiment with to attain desired learning outcomes. If you’ve been thinking about the same things, a quick look at Faculty Focus will turn up many excellent posts by instructors sharing how they get students to do the reading (e.g., Gee, 2014 Weimer, 2012 Van Gyn, 2013 also the Faculty Focus [2010] special report).

Beyond that, however, is a paucity of research in this specific area moreover, that which does exist seems to focus mainly on extrinsic-oriented ways to enforce “compliance,” such as giving pop quizzes, adding extra writing assignments, introducing extra discussion credit points, or providing optional reading guides or questions (e.g., Hatteberg & Steffy, 2013 Lei, Bartlett, Gorney, & Herschbach, 2010 Sappington, Kinsey, & Munsayac, 2002). From the instructor’s perspective, such strategies don’t sound particularly motivating, nor are they likely to get our students excited about reading or developing a perspective that values learning. As we all know, grades do not necessarily reflect students’ engagement, and engagement is much more than mere compliance. Through giving more tests and assigning more papers, might we inadvertently be “helping” create more disengaged achievers?

In response to Weimer’s (2015) question “Are there any other alternatives?” (para. 6), I find the following three strategies have worked, with acceptable varying degrees of success, among my graduate, undergraduate, and diploma-level students alike. Although different instructional, contextual, and learner variables may affect how well they work for you, the level of frustration arising from unproductive discussions because students (on average over 70%, Weimer, 2015) haven’t read the readings is likely to be reduced.

1. Providing choice to promote student ownership. Providing choice deals with “students’ perceptions that their teachers provide opportunities for participation in decision making related to academic tasks [and] allow for student input into class discussion” (Wang & Eccles, 2013, p. 14). In all my courses, students are always given options to (a) select a topic within the course’s scope where they’d like to develop expertise, (b) select from a list of two or three readings for consideration to assume the role of discussion facilitator, or (c) propose a relevant reading or readings to share with the group. As I have repeatedly discovered, when students choose a reading to assume the role of discussion facilitator, they tend to approach the reading differently and, in so doing, advance their own knowledge of the topic more deeply than they would in the role of discussant. This approach leads to greater engagement with both process and product of the reading exploration.

As Chan et al. (2014) noted, “Asking for input on and giving students choices about [readings and how to explore them] helps students understand that their input is valued, which sets the stage for successful student ownership” (p. 111). More importantly, the way we think about how such a sense of ownership emerges must go beyond what lies within the student we need to consider how the different components within the entire learning system of a course interact. When our students can voice an opinion and make decisions about readings, they feel “ownership” because suddenly they have a personal stake in the content, process, and product of that choice. Granted, not all courses can offer such options, but where possible, you can ask yourself, Is there a way to add student choice about readings into my course that promotes a sense of ownership?

2. Providing different ways for students to demonstrate they’ve done the reading. How do you assess whether your students have done the reading? Through quizzes, exams, discussions, a summary or reflective writing piece, or final paper? I teach mainly upper-level courses, and so smaller classes make it easier to consider various “informal” ways students can demonstrate their engagement in and understanding of the recommended/chosen readings. I also don’t require students to purchase textbooks, because there are plenty of level-appropriate, interest-matching articles, either open access or accessible through the library. Over the past decades, I have tried, for example, the following approaches:

  1. Have a sign-up sheet for two to three students to self-select a time/topic for facilitating a warm-up discussion as a team for each week. Members of the facilitating group may also work together to come up with questions to share with the class by posting them at least three days before the discussion. Sharing questions provides everyone a chance to mull them over and request elaboration if they’re unclear.
  2. Alternatively, invite students to contribute questions to the discussion to be facilitated by the scheduled team. I require that these questions be posted to the group’s private website at least three days before the class. This allows (i) the session to address questions of concern and interest to the students, (ii) the questions to be thoughtfully integrated into the discussion by the student facilitators and the session to be planned by the instructor as a whole, (iii) all students to have an opportunity to think about the questions before class, and (iv) the facilitating team or the instructor to acknowledge contributions and channel thinking toward areas to focus on within the allocated time.
  3. Encourage the student facilitators to consider how questions from (a) and/or (b) can be grouped and synthesized in organizing/planning the discussion segment. The warm-up nature of the task necessitates they be selective (through synthesizing/reorganizing and/or collective voting on, say, the top five questions for the warm-up) of the questions they wish to share with their peers. The warm-up discussion is meant to be quite informal and flexible, and students are encouraged to experiment with different formats to get everyone involved. While some students may choose to operate within their comfort zones using the traditional discussion style, I have also been pleasantly surprised at the many ingenious and often fun, engaging ways my students have brought a discussion to life. I often stress that at this stage of their learning, I want them to feel free to explore what they’re reading, and not to worry about task guidelines (often sought by students with lower tolerance for ambiguity or who prefer structures) to follow. Instead, encourage students to let their own and their peers’ needs (through the questions contributed by everyone) take center stage during the discussion. I often weave questions that don’t get picked up during the warm-up discussion into my teaching to ensure that students see their individual questions from their reading are valued.

The benefits of including a seemingly straightforward discussion-facilitation task go beyond getting the students to approach their reading in ways different from how they would if they were not facilitating. These include (as I always explicitly state in a one-page task information sheet) helping students:

  • learn to generate questions meaningful to them and that may be of interest to their peers, and to promote dialogic exchanges among their peers—both essential skills to the work of language-teaching professionals
  • advance their own and their peers’ thinking regarding various topics/questions through exploring those put forward by the team and peers
  • achieve a deeper level of thinking and take ownership of their chosen topic/reading and
  • develop their skills as a facilitator or team facilitator, a life skill applicable both professionally and personally.

3. Providing a post-discussion summary post capturing key contributions. Instead of asking each student to submit a reflective post in writing or by audio-recording, which has its own pedagogical benefits and limitations, I have tried sharing a summary post. I call this my “reflective feedback,” attending to the principle of SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Specific: highlight contributions made by individuals during the informal warm-up discussion. A side note: I typically sit in a corner, observing and taking field notes, and am not directly observable by the students, whatever the seating arrangement. This strategy helps me be very concrete in my feedback in acknowledging both specific and overall contributions made by the students individually and collectively while also highlighting the takeaway points from each discussion. It is also a way to make learning observable in that those thoughts and ideas become shared objects about which further questions and thinking can be explored and built upon within oneself or among the group (Wells, 2000). Measurable: provide a summarizing post no longer than a page. Attainable: ask one or two follow-up questions requiring students to read the post and draw on their experience. Relevant: when possible, selectively link points to individual students’ interests, experiences, and previous sessions. Time-based: I always share the post the very next day on the private class website this time frame creates a bit of distance from the event, but it’s immediate enough that the memory is still fresh. Finally, a trail of such summarizing posts also helps students write a brief, personal reflection at the course’s end about what they’ve learned.

In addition to class feedback, in my feedback to the facilitation team I usually include some guiding questions that members might consider asking themselves to help develop metacognition in learning through self-reflection (Lang, 2012).

  • Have I gained a better/different understanding of the topic through my chosen reading(s) and discussion with my peers? In what ways can my new understanding inform my practices?
  • Have I broadened my thinking or generated new thoughts or ideas not previously formulated? In what area(s) have my thinking and understanding reached new levels?
  • Have I helped my peers clarify their thinking on various questions/issues that concern them, and in doing so clarified my own thinking?
  • Contentwise, in what areas of my reading(s) do I need to clarify my understanding or follow up on? What are some ideas I can apply to my current or future work?
  • Processwise, what have I learned about my ability to promote dialogic exchanges? What can I do differently the next time I facilitate a discussion (an emic perspective) or participate in one (an etic perspective)?

Bonus Idea: Leave one topic open. Among the key topics listed in the course outline, I always leave one open for those who either cannot figure out at least one area of interest, or who are definite about a specific topic that’s not included. Consider having an open topic option to accommodate and value personal interests in the course content and encourage developing those interests. Weave throughout the readings the central idea of teaching for relevance, where “students feel a sense of autonomy when doing work that . . . relates to their interests and has personal meaning . . . provides opportunities for self-exploration . . . and the activities provided are meaningful, relevant, and related to personal interests and goals” (Wang & Eccles, 2013, p. 14).

I have discovered that instead of those methods commonly mentioned in articles for reinforcing reading compliance, taking an informal approach gives students (a) an option to choose readings meaningful or personally relevant to them (b) an opportunity to take ownership of their chosen topic/reading(s) through facilitating a warm-up discussion (c) a way to contribute input to the discussion’s process and product (d) the experience of contributing to the success of each other’s discussion sessions, indirectly encouraging reading, collaboration, and reciprocal exchanges and (e) a glimpse of what they can accomplish by embracing their role as facilitator, with process and product directly relevant to their interests and goals as language-teaching professionals. This combination of approaches dynamically embedded in the learning system can create powerful momentum and interest among students in what their peers have chosen to explore.

As Weimer (2012) pointed out: “Few (if any) instructional strategies are universally effective, and few (if any) accomplish all learning objectives equally well” (para. 7). I couldn’t agree more. As long as we do what we do, each course or instruction/learning session is a mini-adventure—a challenge requiring a unique combination of strategies. The perpetual state of change characteristic of what we do requires that we never stop experimenting by attending to the multidimensional nature of active engagement. What will you experiment with this semester to motivate your students to do the reading?

References:
Baier, K., Hendricks, C., Warren G. K., Hendricks, J. E., & Cochran, L. (2011). College students’ textbook reading, or not! American Reading Forum Annual Yearbook, 31. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1LppErQ

Chan, P. E., Graham-Day, K. J., Ressa, V. A., MST, Peters, M. T., & Konrad, M. (2014). Beyond involvement: Promoting student ownership of learning in classrooms. Intervention in School and Clinic, 50(2), 105-113.

Hatteberg, S. J., & Steffy, K. (2013). Increasing reading compliance of undergraduates: An evaluation of compliance methods. Teaching Sociology, 41(4), 346-352.

Lang, J. M. (2012, January 17). Metacognition and student learning. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/MetacognitionStudent/130327

Lei, S. A., Bartlett, K. A., Gorney, S. E., & Herschbach, T. R. (2010). Resistance to reading compliance among college students: Instructors’ perspectives. College Student Journal, 44(2), 209.

Sapping, J., Kinsey, K., & Munsayac, K. (2002). Two studies of reading compliance among college students. Teaching of Psychology, 29(4), 272-274.

Wang, M. T., & Eccles, J. S. (2013). School context, achievement motivation, and academic engagement: A longitudinal study of school engagement using a multidimensional perspective. Learning and Instruction, 28, 12-23.

Wells, G. (2000). Dialogic inquiry in education: Building on the legacy of Vygotsky. In C. D. Lee & P. Smagorinsky (Eds.), Vygotskian perspectives on literacy research. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Dr. Li-Shih Huang is an associate professor of applied linguistics, Department of Linguistics, and the learning and teaching scholar-in-residence, Learning and Teaching Centre, University of Victoria, BC, Canada. She is also the recipient of the 2014 Humanities Teaching Excellence Award.

This article first appeared in Faculty Focus on September 25, 2015. © Magna Publications. All rights reserved.


The Five Steps to Better Listening

The listening process can be broken up into five distinct stages: receiving, understanding, remembering, evaluating, and responding. This is the model most commonly referred to when analyzing good communication, because it helps isolate the necessary skills required at each individual step in the process.

The most important thing to keep in mind though is that listening is, indeed, a process, and one that requires effort. Once you understand how each part makes up the whole, you’ll come out a better thinker, listener, speaker, and communicator. Let’s begin.

1. Receiving

This is the first and most basic stage of the listening process: the act of actually absorbing the information being expressed to you, whether verbally or non-verbally. Not all communication is done through speech, and not all listening is done with ears.

No matter how you’re communicating with another person, the key at this stage is to pay attention. Focus all of your energy on them, by following these three simple tips:

  • Avoid distractions. This is obvious. Don’t have your cellphone out, or your iPod in, or the television on. Don’t try to divide your attention between the speaker and something else. You might think you’re good at multi-tasking, and perhaps you are, but demonstrating a commitment to the act of listening will make you a more respected person among your peers.
  • Don’t interrupt the speaker. You might want to make an assumption about what the speaker is saying, or what they’re about to say – don’t. It’s rude, and you may find your assumption was wrong, which is beneficial to no one. You can, however, practice nonverbal feedback cue, such as nodding, to demonstrate your attention.
  • Don’t rehearse your response. Not yet. At this stage, your job is only to listen. If you start to plan a speech while the other person is speaking, you’re going to miss certain points and not be able to respond to their larger message when it’s your turn to talk.

2. Understanding

This is the point in the listening process where you’re able to plan your response. Understanding takes place after you’ve received the information from the speaker, and begin to process its meaning.

You can do this by asking questions, or rephrasing parts of the speaker’s message. This allows you to demonstrate your active engagement with their words, and help you better understand their key points.

3. Remembering

What good would it do in a conversation if you forgot everything the speaker had just said? This stage of the listening process might seem very similar to the first two, but it goes beyond merely absorbing and processing information.

Remembering is about retaining that information, and the most effective way to do so in an important conversation is to move the key elements of a message from your short-term memory, and into your long-term memory.

There are numerous methods for doing this:

  • Identify the fundamental points. By converting a collection of small details into a central theme, you’re able to create something potentially complicated into an easy-to-grasp general concept. The details will remain in your short-term memory, but isolating the main ideas will help you understand them better, and remember them longer.
  • Make the message familiar. Relate that main idea to something you already know. This should be easy to do – there aren’t many new ideas out there, and chances are the discussion you’re having will trigger old memories and past experiences. Use those to help you retain incoming information.

4. Evaluating

It’s at this stage where you can begin to prepare for your response, but remember: you’re still a listener, not a speaker. After the message has been absorbed, processed, and remembered, you can begin to sort the information into pieces.

  • What is fact, and what is opinion?
  • Was the speaker demonstrating any particular prejudice with their message?
  • What portions of the message, if any, were exaggerated?
  • What parts of their message were interpreted, and which parts were unbiased?
  • What was the speaker’s intent with their message?

After interpreting the speaker’s message, through a combination of understanding, retention, and evaluation, you’re ready to form a response.


Other Recent Research on Flow

While most of Csikszentmihalyi’s research has focused on American teenagers, his findings have been replicated in Italy (Csikszentmihalyi and Wong, 1989) and India (Sahoo, F. & Sahu, R., 2009). These later studies provided additional support for the universal benefits of experiencing flow. Much of the recent psychological research on flow has expanded beyond collegiate populations, now including the study of flow in the workplace and as an important component in the training regiments of elite athletes. Employees’ experience of flow on the job has often been described as spontaneous and difficult to predict, however, Ceja & Navarro discovered that a balance of enjoyment, interest, and absorption can increase flow, and subsequently employee flourishing, at work (2012). This work has been influential for companies and organizations who wish to increase employee productivity, creativity, and well-being.

Flow has also been studied in secondary education, and researchers discovered that teachers who experience more flow are more adept at applying personal and organizational resources. Personal resources can be thought of as a sense of competency in one’s work, and organizational resources include a supportive work environment and clear professional goals. Increasing educator’s goals and feelings of self- efficacy at work could lead to enriched learning environments for students, making flow an exciting subject of study for psychologists and educators alike.


7 Tips to Boost Your Child’s Working Memory

1) Be clear and concise when giving directions. Make sure you have your child’s full attention when giving directions. Remove distractions, get down to their level, and look them in the eye when speaking. Remember to keep directions short and sweet, and to break them down into manageable tasks that won’t cause feelings of overwhelm. By keeping your requests as specific as possible and limiting the number of things you’re asking a child to do at once, you’re setting him or her up for success.

2) Ask your child to repeat directions back to you. After providing directions, ask your child to repeat what you’ve said back to you to ensure they heard you correctly. This extra step is a great way to improve retention, and allows you to fill in any gaps if your child forgot one or more of the things you said.

3) Teach visualization. Teaching your child to create a mental picture of the things you ask him or her to do is a great way to improve working memory. You may need to take it a step further at first and have your child draw his or her mental picture for you, but the more you practice, the better able your child will be at visualizing the things asked of him or her.

4) Break tasks down. Take the time to write out what needs to be done (and when) so your child can visually see what’s expected of him or her, and then work together to ensure each step is completed along the way. This will require more upfront help on your part, but your child will eventually learn how to break large tasks and assignments into bite-sized pieces that are less overwhelming.

5) Teach and supervise organization efforts. If your child struggles with organization due to poor working memory, take the time to teach him or her effective organization strategies, and regularly supervise these efforts to ensure they are maintained. This will help keep your child accountable and on track throughout the school year, and set him or her up for long-term academic success.

6) Encourage note taking. Teaching your child to write down homework assignments, create ‘to do’ lists, and take notes while working on school assignments can have a huge impact on improving his or her working memory. This will require lots of prompts and reminders on your part, but over time your child will learn to use these strategies to stay organized and on task.

7) Use praise. Children who struggle to focus and pay attention often receive a lot of negative feedback throughout the day. Teachers and parents spend a lot of time telling these kids about all of the things they’re doing wrong, and while this isn’t always done deliberately, it can have a huge impact on a child’s feelings of self-worth. Offer praise wherever possible, and make it a point to highlight one (or more) things these children do RIGHT each day. Remember that children ultimately want to please their parents and teachers in everything they do, and when you take the time to recognize their efforts – even when they don’t turn out the way they had hoped – it can have such a positive impact on their self-esteem.


Improving Adult Literacy Instruction: Supporting Learning and Motivation (2012)

A dults lead complex lives with limits on the amount of time they have to engage in formal learning. This reality, combined with the amount of effort and practice needed to develop one&rsquos literacy skills&mdashgenerally many thousands of hours&mdashmakes supporting persistence one of the most challenging aspects of designing effective adult literacy instruction. The average adult learner&rsquos duration in a literacy program is nowhere close to the length of instruction and practice needed.

How can programs and instructors help motivate students to persist in their efforts? This section explores insights from research about how to shape learning environments&mdashinstructional interactions, structures, systems, tasks, and texts&mdashin ways that encourage persistence.

Psychological studies have identified an impressive array of factors that contribute to individual motivation&mdashincluding self-efficacy, self-control, goal orientations, and interest, among others. Although each of these factors is discussed separately below, it is important to keep in mind that they interact with one another in complex ways to influence a learner&rsquos motivation. For example, the goals people set are related to their self-efficacy&mdashtheir perceived ability to perform well on a task&mdashand the value they assign to the task.

Building Learners&rsquo Self-Efficacy

When learners expect to succeed, they are more likely to put forth the effort and the persistence needed to perform well. More-confident students are more likely to be more cognitively engaged in learning and thinking than students who doubt their capabilities. Indeed, self-efficacy is a strong predictor of many educational and health outcomes and has been associated with better literacy skills.

Self-Efficacy or Self-Esteem?

Self-efficacy is often confused with global self-esteem. Self-efficacy refers to learners&rsquo beliefs about their abilities in a certain area, such as literacy global self-esteem refers to how one feels about oneself generally. While there is little evidence that enhancing students&rsquo general self-esteem leads to increases in achievement, self-efficacy in a particular domain&mdashsuch as education or health&mdashrelates positively to outcomes in that domain.

It can be expected that some adults enter literacy education questioning their ability to learn to read and write. Moreover, beliefs about self-efficacy can decrease in middle age and older adulthood, although this tendency may vary among individuals. Such beliefs can be modified, however, through experience with tasks in which realistic goals are set and progress is monitored relative to those goals.

Setting Appropriate Goals

Goals are extremely important in motivating and directing behavior. Adults often have very general ideas about why they need or want to learn to read and write. To motivate persistence and success, instructors need to help learners break down their learning goals into short-term and long-term literacy goals. If learners set near-term goals, not just distant ones, they are much more likely to experience success, which enhances self-efficacy. Supporting learners&rsquo awareness of progress week-by-week can motivate persistence, as learners reach their near-term goals and recognize that these are the path to reaching long-term goals.

There are also different types of goals, the choice of which can influence learning outcomes:

&bull When a learner holds a mastery goal, he or she engages with a task in order to improve ability the goal is to truly master the task. When students hold this type of goal, the point of comparison is the student him- or herself. That is, the student compares his or her present performance to past performance to gauge improvement.

&bull When a learner holds a performance-approach goal, the goal is to demonstrate his or her ability relative to others the students compare their performance to that of other students, with the goal of demonstrating greater competence.

&bull When a learner holds a performance-avoidance goal, the student&rsquos goal is to avoid appearing incompetent or &ldquodumb.&rdquo Such students would want to avoid appearing to others that they have poor literacy skills.

Learning environments can be structured in ways that encourage learners to set different types of goals. If a teacher emphasizes the importance of mastering literacy skills, learners are likely to adopt mastery goals if a teacher emphasizes relative ability (i.e., the teacher inadvertently makes comments that position adult learners as &ldquogood&rdquo or &ldquobad&rdquo readers), learners are likely to adopt performance goals.

Adopting mastery goals predicts positive outcomes that include persisting at tasks, choosing to engage in similar activities in the future, and using effective cognitive and self-regulatory strategies. Performance-avoidance goals consistently predict negative outcomes, including increased use of self-handicapping strategies and poor achievement. Results for performance-approach goals are mixed, with some studies finding that they are related to positive outcomes and others finding the opposite.

In addition, learners can have certain beliefs about intelligence that can affect their self-efficacy and as a result their personal goals for learning. Students who hold an incremental view of intelligence believe that intelligence is malleable and that it is possible to learn just about anything. These students are likely to adopt mastery goals. In contrast, students who believe that intelligence is fixed so that a person cannot effectively learn more than they are naturally capable of learning are likely to adopt performance goals.

It appears possible, however, to alter beliefs about intelligence. For instance, feedback that focuses a learner&rsquos attention on how learning happens&mdashfor example, on the use of strategies, effort, practice, and the general changeable and controllable nature of learning&mdashcan foster more incremental views of ability with positive outcomes.

Offering Feedback in Ways that Motivate

Self-efficacy requires having fairly accurate perceptions of one&rsquos current competencies. Overestimating one&rsquos ability to read and understand a text, for instance, will not lead to engaging in the behaviors needed to develop new skills. Underestimating one&rsquos abilities may lead to coping or hiding behaviors that prevent the learner from making use of his or her existing skills.

To develop accurate perceptions of their competencies, students need to receive clear, specific, and accurate feedback. The feedback should be appropriate to the learners&rsquo needs and be specific about the area that should be improved.

Assist learners in managing errors. Students of all ages can find errors demotivating. Research suggests the benefits of error management&mdashthat is, leading adults to expect errors as a part of the learning process and then providing strategies for coping with errors and learning from them. Instructors need to know how to recognize and correct ingrained negative attributions by providing feedback that stresses the processes of learning, such as the importance of using strategies, monitoring one&rsquos own understanding, and engaging in sustained effort even in the face of challenges.

Reframe explanations in ways that motivate persistence. Experiences with learning can trigger questions such as: Why did I do badly? (after receiving a low score on an evaluation). Why can&rsquot I understand this? (after failing to comprehend a paragraph). Why can&rsquot I write sentences that make sense? (after being unable to write a coherent short story). The &ldquoattributions&rdquo students form in response to such questions&mdashin other words, how they explain the reasons for their successes and failures to themselves&mdashwill either motivate them to persist or discourage them from doing so.

A learner who is experiencing difficulty comprehending a text, for example, will be more likely to persist if he or she attributes the difficulty to something external (for example, a boring text), something uncontrollable (being ill), or something unstable (feeling depressed that day). A learner who experiences success at a task will be more likely to persist if progress is attributed to something internal (for example, personal enjoyment of reading), controllable (practice, spending a lot of time working on the text), and stable (a belief in one&rsquos ability as a reader).

When a student does not experience success&mdashfor example, if he or she is unable to make sense of the overarching point of a short story&mdashinstructors can help the learner employ reading strategies that can elucidate the story&rsquos meaning and also provide a different frame for thinking about the reasons for the learner&rsquos difficulties and errors. With repeated reframing, instructors can help learners develop attributional styles that allow learners to employ strategies and skills that are more likely to lead them to persist.

Model literacy strategies. Vicarious experience&mdashsuch as observing others successfully perform specific tasks or use specific strategies&mdashis another way to frame learners&rsquo attitudes toward learning and increase self-efficacy. For instance, instructors or students might model literacy strategies or other learning behaviors.

Using Assessments Appropriately

While assessments are important, the ways in which they are administered and the feedback presented can affect learners&rsquo motivation in either positive or negative ways. Stressing the importance of assessments and tests can lead students to adopt performance goals&mdashgoals in which a student compares his or her progress to that of others. As discussed previously, these goals are related to some problematic academic outcomes, particularly when students are preoccupied with the goal of avoiding appearing incompetent. When students are focused on how they compare to others academically, they may use less-efficient cognitive strategies and engage in various self-handicapping behaviors.

To avoid demotivating students, instructors should:

&bull Present the results of assessments privately. Presenting assessment results in a public manner is conducive to students adopting performance rather than mastery goals.

&bull Encourage students to focus on effort and improvement whenever possible. Motivation is strengthened if students feel they can improve if they work hard at a task. Intrinsic motivation is enhanced when students are rewarded on the basis of their improvement rather than on absolute scores.

&bull Allow the student to take an assessment again if he or she does not receive an acceptable score.

Research suggests that teachers can contribute to learners&rsquo negative framing and explanations in a variety of ways, including by:

&bull Communicating, intentionally or unintentionally, to learners that a reading problem is internal to them. Teaching practices that could build negative internal attributions include labeling readers and writers as strong or struggling making obvious assignments of readers and writers to working groups by skill level and encouraging some learners to excel, while exhibiting low expectations for others.


Watch the video: Effective Learning Strategies (January 2022).