Instructional Strategies

Objectives: Drum Roll Please…and setting a high bar together

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By Carolyn Hoessler

Once students and I know what the class knows pre-assessment, I share the draft objectives listed on a screen and together revise them. The objectives are not just my talking points, they represent the skills, knowledge and value I will be expecting of them in future assessments, what they want to walk away with, and what we both are willing to engage in.

There is also a second sneaky motivation I have based on my background in psychology: I want to use the social pressure for good (not evil). Through pubic agreement with the objectives, I want students to feel a sense of commitment to these objectives even when they require effort. I also want them to know that everyone else in the class, including me, has agreed to work towards these goals and can be relied on for help.

Pier Pressure - Swimmers jumping off a wall into the water.I am also able to respond to students’ ever-shifting interest across offerings. Perhaps non-parametric tests are more important, there is demand for how to read statistical research articles, or a particular complex test is desired. The content can then be shaped to meet each group’s motivations (Ryan & Deci, 2001; Vallerand et al., 1992 Academic Motivation Scale) or the beauty within a particular topic.

If I wanted to formalize the activity, the first assignment could be to suggest any revision to the learning objectives that are then agreed to/revised in the next class (or via a discussion board), or the objectives (and selected assessments) could be agreed to in a form of a proposed contract.

With this buy-in of expectations and added motivation, the stage is lit, the title screen has rolled and the show is on!

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 68-78. doi: 10.1037110003-066X.55.1.68

Vallerand, R. J., Pelletier, L. G., Blais, M. R., Brie`re, N. M., Sene ́cal, C., & Vallie`res, E. F. (1992). The Academic Motivation Scale: A measure of intrinsic, extrinsic, and amotivation in education. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 52, 1003–1017.

Picture courtesy of digablesoul via Flickr with a Creative Commons license (Attribution – NonCommercial — Share Alike – Some rights reserved)

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