Monday, July 28, 2008

Pollyanna's post

Hello to our (now 54 strong) ATN08 blog community

It's great to see things gradually hotting up with some great responses to Phil and Sally's 5 big ideas.

Well, I have to confess, I was one of the 3 optimists who (in our first poll) voted that 'love of learning' was a stronger motivator than 'marks' in assessment. I wonder why extrinsic motivation won out over intrinsic motivation with the masses (well, 12 voters)? Don't students come to Uni in the first place because they want to learn? Are we talking about a special few cases? Maybe that's just wishful thinking on our part.

What is engagement, if it isn't about tapping into the love or enjoyment of learning? Why have a conference about engaging students if the potential to love learning is unengagable? Or is it?

What do you think?

(So many questions for Pollyanna to ponder!)

Andrea Duff

Learning Adviser
UniSA Mawson Lakes


Andrea said...

Hello dear readers

I've had a number of email responses to this post where I have, in fact, found a similar number of coy Pollyanna's lurking.

Someone (not naming names, Ian Reid) pointed me to Tara Brabazon's article:

Tara throws down the gauntlet with:

During the years of formal education before entry into a university, the motivation and pleasure of writing is weathered through examinations, tests and generic coursework. Because of this history, announcing an essay as a university assessment is immediately followed by student groans rather than enthusiasm.

Hello - anyone out there?

Monica Behrend said...

I too was interested in Pollyanna and side with her in principle! Oh the dream. We do know marks are the key! However, how can we lure students into those exciting 'Eureka' moments?

We hope by providing resources we can get some engagement happening ... but research (sorry forgot the reference) shows that students do still not necessarily use the online resources. So what can we do?

I think that we need to increase the dialogic aspect of assessment and keep the interaction between peers and lecturers alive! (aka Vygotsky).

I say that because in my research with International students I was interested to note how the research interview acted as an affordance and promoted students interaction with and use of online resources which were provided to support assignment writing. For the first assignment they used them in a limited fashion but then we talked about them in the interview and I believe students could see their potential.

In the interview we were able to say what wasn't understood, where confusions still existed and come to a new place in understanding. SO maybe we need to let students talk knowingly wrong stuff, but talk anyway. My understanding of Vygotsky would indicate that the utterance (including in early formation of conpects i.e. learning) albeit incorrect has an important place in learning.

So maybe if we added more dialogue we could get more engagement.

What do you reckon?

Monica Behrend
PhD candidate in Education
University of South Australia

Ian Solomonides said...

Hi Pollyanna

Couldn't go past this without responding. Anna Reid and I have been exploring some of this (at least from the point of view of Art and Design students) and it seems many have a deep 'love for the subject', amongst other dimensions, as part of their engagement. This wasn't so for staff, many of whom saw engagement as much more instrumental and conative.

I can't come to ATN but it looks like a great conference. There is though, a link below to a recent paper we published for the Pedagogic Research in Higher Education Conference on the subject of enagement earlier this year.

All the best

Ian Solomonides