martes, junio 14, 2005

Our last gathering 

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.

Social Psychology, how do I show my enthusiasm with the subject…. Well, my excitement as a researcher shows. I am critical about misleading generalizations based on weak evidence. And I convey my concerns as a contribution to students learning by my modeling and hope of transferring this awareness of fallacies as a stance they need to take in their careers. Now a personal learning relationship is formed and the crucial question is if the shortness of time in the course design facilitates or hinders the learning process and its outcomes. As the previous meeting, the classroom became a workshop in which learning about the content and the process took place at different levels: physically as well as mentally since reflection and discussion was shared. The environment in the room was managed by the group by the arrangement of equipment, air conditioner, group presentations and format for the discussion of the portfolio. In the review of the portfolio there was closure and projection into the future. Some students read their reflections about the challenges faced in the course and offered in their review of the impact of the class on their studies the thought of taking a closer look at Social Psychology as the branch of psychology they wanted to specialized in. Norms about time management guiding the structure of the session where maintained… and acknowledged by someone saying… “I know you would not let us out early today even though it is the last day of class” ??? Group cohesion was obvious in the small groups formed in their seating arrangements. I chose to encourage consistency in that regard as a means for support and due to the shortness of time together.

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.

Since reflection was central to the discussion about the class Portfolio the experience followed peer modeling and their own goal setting. The expectation about their success depending on their own initiative was highlighted in various occasions as issues about asking permission to speak were responded in a manner in which they where urged to behave assertively. Likewise their own managing of their time to present was clear with the use of the timer. It was most interesting to hear the timer go off while I was talking and realizing that I was being gauged by the same tool. There was humor, we laughed at my surprise of being “told” to stop talking !!! Rascals I thought…. And then of course, that was the tool for norm setting… and I followed that norm by finishing my statement.
The exploration of their achievements through the rubrics was again acknowledged and celebrated… the realism of self-assessment of their performance as directly related to their effort was clearly shown with the rubrics. Likewise success is presented as achievable and based on clearly established criteria. The rubrics serve as a basis for structure and I would have liked to have them creating them. Then the issue of intrinsic interest, relevance and empowerment would have been directly addressed.
An open minded disposition has been maintained through the positive feedback offered through out the class.

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.

Here again the assessment criteria is consistent and their comfort increased with repetition and familiarity with the rubrics. Today all of them where used: presentation, participation, paper and portfolio. Generally the success was attainable in each of these activities. Some goal setting was reviewed since students were still given the opportunity to review their work and send it to me for grading, thus, participating in negotiations about their final marks. The fact that they were doing peer assessments on the portfolio served for their review of performance by attaining established goals.

Sending messages to their peers serve to stimulate and increase their involvement in the portfolio activity. Likewise, receiving the notes served to motivate speakers and offered them opportunities to be successful. Anxiety about their public speaking was reported in their written reflections but not evident in their presentations. Autonomy and cooperation was clearly encouraged and enhanced by the task of peer-assessments and by the working environment reigning at various times in class. Still it is unclear how can the student’s self-motivating capacity could be increased. For one student the open ended looseleaf portfolio which she created was acknowledged as being the start for her senior portfolio. So the structure and the organizing achieved with the task is expected to serve her well as a tool for motivation in her future studies.

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.

Again, the self-based effort attribution would be evident by now in the use of rubrics and self-assessment. The motivational capacity of grades was most noticeable as students would confirm their achievements by consulting my spreadsheet with the current values for their grades. They would take turns to ask the score and make arrangements for re-submittal of their papers, quizzes…. At one point one student was with a calculator checking the correct totals and mentioning how hard she worked for a top score, which she had. I acknowledged how most had reached the excellent mark, while a few where not able to reach deadlines… how could the divergence be reduced remains puzzling to me. Most written reflection addressing obstacles to goal attainment focused on their life circumstances and demands. Statements of increasing their effort and organizing themselves were stated. In their self reflection, critical thought and aiming at excellence was acknowledged as a theme in class.

Difficulty in understanding tasks was also a norm… and remains to be explored if the uncertainty of designing activities as the course progressed was more counterproductive than expected. The required review and re-submission of corrected work seemed endless to some and troubling to others who needed more concrete achievement.

Motivational strategies refer to those motivational influences that are consciously exerted to achieve some systematic and enduring positive effect.” (Doernyei, 2001)

Here I am choosing what to say about this last class. Arrived as usual and headed to the faculty room to make copies for class. Also adjusted deadlines for submission of a student’s requirements for the grade. Looking at the variety of tasks I think we covered for all learning styles by not just reading, writing, speaking, presenting, creating… building a portfolio, we moved around. Certainly moving the tables required a bit of physical involvement… The room was chilled with the blinds being down, the air conditioner whining and the door kept close. Was funny to hear someone correcting our keeping the “central air” from functioning if the door was left open… keeping the door shut was certainly required for comfort with the temperature. We’ve also become used to our “places” in the room and the routine… rubrics, handouts, quizzes, papers… all in one table for distribution. Yes papers everywhere! And everyone was organizing their collection into a portfolio… “who has scissors” and “a stapler….” Yes, there was quite a bit of busy energy.

I started with the usual review of the previous session and acknowledged that they could multitask since this was a repeat, we heard these topics on last weeks presentations. “But please wrap it up at the start of the group presentations.” The first group wanted a cue of 10 minutes before their turn, to prepare. While they got ready, I showed them the discussion generated in the “learning container”. Immediately after I asked for comments on what it looked like, a classmate remarked: “a syllabus”… of course! And we realized the importance of maintaining logical direction and threads there and in e-mail communications under the subject field. So knowing about outlines will have remarkable benefits in on-line communication too.

And into the room came a cast of characters in interesting male attires… a tradesperson, a white collar bureaucrat, and someone into sports. Nice attention getter! Well suited for the module on Gender, Genes, and Culture. They facilitated quite nicely a participatory exercise in which words where associated with being a woman, a man, and outside that box, opposite characteristics of being of that gender. After that a nice informational statement was given about research on these attributions. I noticed that my assignment of characteristics into the expected boxes was difficult since by now I look at gender as an androgynous experience.

When the second module was to be presented, the speaker acknowledged her difficulty with the fact that her team member was absent. “Do the best you can, I am sure it will great !” She did… and as she was starting, the door opened.. (I though this was some arranged entry.. for the topic on Two Routes to Persuasion. The director of the program walked in ???? I greeted her and offered her a seat. She acknowledged her being there doing the rounds and that it was storming outside. Not a clue about outside, we were absorbed with our day’s agenda… 3 group presentations and portfolios. The director left after the presenter noticed her being also at the front addressing the group on her last visit… interesting coincidences on timing. And indeed, the presentation was very practical.. about how best to persuade!!!

At the ring of the timer time was up! No time for discussion—a whole half an hour was taken on presentations… and we acknowledged that the choice of information was great!

Next group… at that point we broke for a few minutes for set up, moving about …

The next group had a collection of video clips about greed that took about 8 minutes (about half their allotted time). A nice strategy… I was making connections with other movies… Shindler’s list, The Pianist, Life is Beautiful… and again… time flew! Nice coordinated presentation.. members flowed from one speaker to the next and the discussion had a nice touch in dealing with social influence and critical of materialism. One after the next all presenter’s where soo pleasing… clearly we gained considerable skills with the content and the process. The last presentation was also smooth, sophisticated slides where used and it was interesting…. What a treat! Hearing messages about social responsibility and about sustainability. Yes, the timer kept ringing and we were going! Applauses would signal our appreciation as an audience of the presenter’s work. We where also busy with the rubrics and their turning in all the support documents once they ended.

We took a break and organized our potluck! I had saved my appetite for the occasion and enjoyed the spread gathered on a table in the middle of the room! Everyone served themselves and went back to their chairs to eat. I distributed food around and sat right by the veggie tray totally teased by the keylime meringue pie and cookies… omg!

I returned the papers and gave a summary about the topics written about and pointed out some of the particulars about citing references. I also acknowledged that these papers could be the start of their careers as psychologists researching social phenomena. There were some common interests in issues of aggression and positivism, to name a few. I urged some of them to look at the comments and re-submit the papers for a better score, and some of them made arrangements for that.

Then we started with the portfolio presentations. I asked group members to pair up and to fill a rubric for each of them and then to choose something to show the larger group. I handed little sheets of paper for them to write a comment to each speaker. I read out loud some of the words gathered in the “short for words” posting below as words that could be used. A lot of energy was generated after each speaker, since papers were quickly distributed. Nice idea, thank you Renata… ! From the start of this portfolio sharing, there was a play with the idea that they where responsible for their outcomes… “Can I start?“ I heard someone say…. And I mentioned.. well, only if you say so… immediately she said.. OK, I am starting!!!!

WOW, and we rolled… one after the next. Someone else asked me to determine her time as she pointed that I was keeping the time… immediately I handed the timer to her… she would keep her own… time. Everyone got the point! (I think). Each took a turn to share anything of their choice. Most read their reflections and challenges offered them by the course. In one occasion I directed the discussion away from possibly turning into comparisons on performance among classmates. Generally the theme was of satisfaction.

Time was up! For real, this was the end of class. I acknowledged the hard work and urged them to stay in touch. Was going to do a summary of the comments, but someone commented—much like the first class that it was nice to end there and then. A class participant handed me back the egg timer with a grin… and a little piece of paper… I thanked her… later I read it… it said… Karen-- brilliance. It takes one to know one, I thought. I was pleased.

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We talked about hindsight during our time together. Today, I had my "Aha" moment.... Hindsight is a beautiful thing....Some days were luck trudging through a smog, but I can only appreciate the fresh air after going through the smog. I know I speak with metaphors, but the point is, for all of the challenges presented, I am stronger and appreciative of having this experience. So, thank you...
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