viernes, junio 10, 2005

The 5th class according to Doernyei * 

(*Motivational Strategies in the Language Classroom. Cambridge University Press 2001):

Creating the Basic Motivational Conditions
1 Demonstrate and talk about your own enthusiasm for the course material and how it affects you personally.
2 Take the students learning very seriously.
3 Develop a personal relationship with your students.
4 Develop a collaborative relationship with the students' parents.
5 Create a pleasant and supportive atmosphere in the classroom.
6 Promote the development of group cohesiveness.
7 Formulate the norms explicitly, and have them discussed and accepted by the learners.
8 Have the group norms consistently observed.

My enthusiasm about Social Psychology, how did I convey my enthusiasm? Other than the subjective excitement for the content, I think that the exploration and wonder about how the content is conveyed within the participatory structure of the class. We are not talking about it, we are being it! And by now we all are part of the learning and the Social Psychology of the process of learning. As a workshop we are sharing a collaborative atmosphere in which we cohesively discover our place in the whole experience. The norms, these are still being formulated and challenged. Am I promoting that challenge?

Generating Initial Motivation
9 Promote the learners' language related valuse by presenting peer role models.
10 Raise the learners' intrinsic interest in the L2 learning process
11 Promote 'integrative values by encouraging a positive and open-minded disposition towards the L2 and its speakers
12 Promote the students' awareness of the instrumental values associated with the knowledge of an L2
13 Increase the students' expectancy of success in particular tasks and learning in general.
14 Increase the students' goal-orientedness by formulating explicit class goals accepted by them.
15 Make the curriculum and the teaching materials relevant to the students.
16 Help to create realistic learner beliefs.

There are plenty of peer models now assisting us in the presentations and assessment process. Our reflection within the discussions “hopefully” help raise the intrinsic interest… with a kick of external/ extrinsic motivation. How do you encourage anybody to be internally motivated? Quite paradoxical—don’t understand that one yet…. Please comment if you do… you’ll get an extra point indeed.

The expectation of success is attributed in just performing, acting, sort of an unconditional expectation… as in the “purely positive training” where you just look and notice the good. How rewarding is it by just noticing the positive only notice one aspect of an experience…. Ahh, I am always in wonder! Would that serve to reduce the value of the reward? (That would an instrumental value associated with the learning in item #12) There was a bit of focus on goals as we reviewed the learning outcomes for the class. As a consequence of the review, beliefs of achievement and success were formulated.

Maintaining and Protecting Motivation
17 Make learning more stimulating and enjoyable by breaking the monotony of classroom events.
18 Make learning stimulating and enjoyable for the learners by increasing the attractiveness of the task.
19 Make learning stimulating and enjoyable for the learners by enlisting them as active task participants.
20 Present and administer tasks in a motivating way.
21 Use goal-setting methods in your classroom.
22 Use contracting methods with your students to formalise their goal commitment.
23 Provide learners with regular experience of success.
24 Build your learners confidence by providing regular encouragement.
25 Help diminish language anxiety by removing or reducing the anxiety-provoking elements in the learning environment.
26 Build your learners confidence in their learning abilities by teaching them various learner strategies.
27 Allow learners to maintain a positive social image while engaged in the learning tasks.
28 Increase student motivation by promoting cooperation among the learners.
29 Increase student motivation by actively promoting learner autonomy.
30 Increase the student' self-motivating capacity.

Today, on that next to the last class there was quite a bit of the stimulating and interesting apprehension in witnessing and experiencing the last individual presentations. By that there was a sense of achievement since we were wrapping up the course. The participation rubric sheet is full of comments and reflection, and they have become a tool for communication to me. In that communication there is evidence of some of the anxiety with the paper subsiding now that it is done. The structure of setting work groups, time keeping, distribution of rubric sheets and setting breaks served for a sense of autonomy, and engagement.

Encouraging Positive Self-Evaluation
31 Promote effort attributions in your students.
32 Provide students with positive information feedback.
33 Increase learner satisfaction.(celebrate achievements, display work)
34 Offer rewards in a motivational manner.
35 Use grades in a motivating manner, reducing as much as possible their demotivating impact.

Right from the start of class I urge everyone to do the best they can with the opportunity facing us to learn in the classroom. The positive feedback is shared with the peer assessments and with the applause at the end of the presentations. I am still wondering how with a competitive grading structure you could reduce “demotivation”. Please comment on this one too and we’ll all get your point!

Ok, ok, now I have a chance…. At the eve of the end of class to transport myself to last Saturday. A hiatus reviewing in silence the experience of teaching an intensive undergraduate Social Psychology Class. Of course, expectations come to bear (sp?) about this being an upperclass group (seniors) and the syllabus being inherited… as in previously used and equivalent to other courses. Now I look in detail the performance and assessment issues implied within the design. And of course, the issue of power imbalances come to the fore as is the student’s subjective feeling that I am “giving” the grades. Interesting use of words…. Every single word I emit lately is measured---- and that is swell, since classmates are also guarding their use of words.. see, they “might end up in the blog”… and that is fine! If an outcome of the blog is for participants to see themselves and gauge themselves…. that is a significant outcome…. (I wonder under which item Dornei’s framework considers that?

In hindsight, yes, always easier afterwards….. we have worked hard… and it shows in the use of terms, comfort with the subject, discussion.

I started the session showing the power point presentation created by the publisher of the book. There was interest in the review since most class members had by then presented a module using slides and outlines created by them. I later learned in a comment included in the participation rubrics that looking at the slides from the publisher served of confirmation about our work, since the publisher’s version is quite limited…

Yes, we have really done a lot of work! Each group member has presented a module by now. But then, the last ones where also really interesting… since both the outlines and the visuals… and goodies… (yes… chocolate…) kept us going to the end of class. We took breaks… short ones… since we were involved!

For starters, we encountered technical difficulties…. I did a quick scan about needs for the group projects next week and time management details. Everybody seems to enjoy the idea of having a potluck for the last class. Although this will be a coordinated one… a list was passed around and everyone added what they would bring… (only had a peek at the list… looked gooodd!!!)

Facing the knacks of technology acknowledged how we need to think on our feet. By now most classmates had presented and had experienced using the equipment. The classroom feels like a workshop. People handing out rubrics, setting up the timer…. Presenting the concepts assigned, leading the discussion. Amazing!!!! I reviewed the assessment criteria on the board and encouraged everyone to give their performance their best shot. “Give me evidence of learning” I think it was then that I asked what would the participation rubrics mean if throughout the class they had always assigned themselves the top marks. Someone immediately, clearly and convincibly said that if the participant was steadily, and throughout the term performing at the top level…. Right!!! But then, how is learning acknowledged? And interestingly, comments in the rubric do serve to document evidence of learning. I will post some of the comments….

At one point I acknowledged my missing them on a Saturday once we where finished…. (was I the only one thinking in those terms…?)

There where themes in the group dynamics of issues of authority and of empowerment faced in the management of the structure and performance of the group. Mostly issues about what guidelines are used to assess performance. I do not recall in my experience being in a classroom in which the performance outcome was such a source of concern… almost a deleterious impact. Fortunately the rubrics offer each class member indication of their performance. (Wish to be using the word learning instead.) Actually, each single score has been either self assigned, assigned by a peer and/or guided by a previously established indicator. (hurray for Rubistar ) wink, wink.

Yes, there were still a handful of individual presentations, four of them, adjusted for one missing from a student who withdrew from class but who brought her 11 page outline !!! for classmates to include in their portfolio. …. Offered her the opportunity to present…. But she was no longer part of the class, she informed me. ...and with the start of the egg timer we called to order --the beginning of presentations. Their turn.

What a nice collection of activities…. The influence of the media in social behavior, the ups and downs of love, the blessed peacemakers…. We now have a nice tradition of an applause after each participant finishes… the atmosphere feels nice!

I shared my views about the topics… in essence how LOVE is all there is… “all you need is love, love…” of course… ohhh, but Peace. Peace and Love. And of course, at the start of the Peace presentation the leader had a wonderful ice breaker… of how she loved chocolate and passed along a bag full of hersheys bars.. and how we knew something new about her… in addition to her being a mediator and para-legal… and that it was our turn to share something we didn’t know about each other… (that I was a 70’s hippie living in the Height Ashbury?... noooo) "Love is all you need… Peace and Love… great topics…" I said.

During the discussion I talked about my learning with the blog and the activities around it. I stated how this medium has offered me the opportunity to reflect about my teaching process and about my learning about how within the context of psychology, issues of confidentiality would also be important to consider. I also acknowledged my quandary with understanding that SOME students perceive me as not caring, and how it would seem logical to expect that caring would clearly be evident if I deleted the blog. There was candid discussion about how personal information was publicly treated here and that such could conceivably be considered a breach of confidence. It is interesting that students in the group can identify who the actors are, but that for outsiders, their representation is anonymous. So in essence, an accurate ethnographic rendition would allow for familiarity in the actors experience. Interesting! That however is not the case in the comments, where they address me by my name. I stated how I contacted a few of the people whom I referred to in my story whom might have conceivably considered my posts too personal, and have been assured that not being the case. My bringing up the topic was generally found to be beneficial for some, and taking too long for others.

At the end of the discussion the mediator summarized our agreement as being directed at the choice of words used. I invited anyone with a request for a change in the use of words to let me know. One was stated… which checking back for it was revised a while ago. There were different statements around the whole group of the like of, I’ve heard positive accounts of us, to what blog are you talking about, to… I am upset and I have not even read it… to receiving a recent message by email that nothing offensive is evident. That last statement validates my intention about being constructive in this endeavor.

But I must say, the learning about power discourse and the choice of words used to convey the sentiment of all people when only a few are portrayed is a significant learning in this experience. I hope more about that will follow. There was one more presentation, about altruism and helping. Nice touch, no slides… relaxed posture and interesting discussion about what is significant helping or just “band aids”.

We used the last half an hour to review the portfolio’s rubrics and the course’s learning outcomes. We went one by one over each of the expected outcomes. .. and at a point acknowledged who much we had done during class and how everything we’ve done helped meet the outcomes.

At the end of class, a student handed me a copy of an article on Positive Psychology…. I was delighted and glad to received it in a colored cover, labeled and all… as well as a table full of participant’s rubrics, presentation rubrics and their papers… all full of thoughts, ideas, messages. We’ve done a lot of work. At the end of the class heard comments of satisfaction with the class from two students. I was pleased.

All week long I have been reviewing their scores, feedback, reading their papers. Now that I’ve met them it is time to say farewell. Fortunately this blog could serve as means to stay in touch.

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