IDE Week 3 Learning Theories & Motiviation

Between Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Constructivist theories, constructivist is the most problematic. Problem based learning appeals to me, but in a one-shot class, there isn’t enough time for large problem solving or several smaller problems.

I want students to be on task and complete the worksheet so they can find at least one source they can use in class. To that end, I’d use behaviorism to appeal to their desire not to do work on their own time. I tell them the more they get done in class, the less they have to do later. But to better reinforce that, I need to add a bit where they fill out a short sheet to hand me before they leave the classroom (topic, keywords, citation) – I’ve heard it called an exit ticket.

I do use some cognitive techniques in my classes. I use flow diagrams to explain the research process, sample mind maps, and chunk the class into smaller parts. I’d like to use a hook, but I’m not sure what it should be, much less how not to make it corny or too obvious.


Since I don’t know the students in the classes I teach, it’s hard to know what will motivate them individually, much less all of them. I don’t know a lot about what a student knows, their abilities, and their preferences for achievement, I only know that in general, there is a wide range of knowledge and abilities. I have to cast a wide net and hope I cover enough of them with something that motivates them.

One method is to make research relevant to the student. This method is why I want students to have chosen their topics before class, so they can develop and search their own topic in class. I just have to emphasize they pick a topic they are truly interested in.

I also try to reassure and warn students what they’ll face and tell them not to let it bother them. I tell them they will hit dead ends or have to tweak their topic before it’s done, but I also say that’s natural and part of research – they didn’t do anything wrong, it’s just the way research is.

Another method is explaining why we want them to learn new skills and advance the ones they have. This method is the one I want to develop. Saying things like:

  • The better your sources, the better your paper.
  • The more in depth your source, the more there is to respond to.
  • If you can learn to use a library database well, you can learn to search anything.

In my experience, students don’t really care about finding quality information (beyond the assignment requirements), they’re more focused on easy, familiar, and says-what-I-need; so explaining why they need to use library resources is ineffective. I do liken library database limiters to amazon’s left filters, but I wonder how many students actually use filters on websites.

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