Motivation Motivating the Seemingly Unmotivated Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

Extrinsic rewards should only be used when other efforts to actively engage students in learning has failed; (3) In the event extrinsic rewards must be utilized, they should be "just powerful enough to control behavior" and should be eliminated in phases before all intrinsic motivation is lost.

Jones, Vermette, and Jones posit in their article, "An Integration of "Backwards Planning' Unit Design with the "Two Step" Lesson Planning Framework," planning and engaging students in effective lessons is a fundamental component of successful teaching and therefore, motivating students (Skowron, 2001). The authors created the concept of backwards planning which requires educators to start with a nominal list of essential questions all students must answer by the end of the lesson plan. With the end goal in mind, teachers then design assessments based on those understandings and strategically crafted lessons to achieve the desired objectives. Once the goals and assessments have been created, teachers are then required to create and implement lessons to address both unit and lesson objectives. Flynn, et al., (2004) refer to this sequence of planned events as the discovery and exploratory phases of the lesson.

According to Brozo and Flynt, children who are engaged when they have interests and as engaged thinkers they are better students (Guthrie & Humenick, 2004). It follows that children who are motivated to read spend more time doing so then those who are unmotivated (Guthrie, et al., 1999). As reading is foundational to all other learning, this research becomes increasingly more important. An awareness of the importance of motivating students is a novel idea but finding ways to accomplish this task can be difficult. Motivating students and not just reluctant readers, particularly in the area of reading, requires content text, which can also be challenging to educators (Baker & Wigfield, 1999).

When text is unappealing or too cumbersome and the teaching pedagogy around the text does not successfully engage the students, then students may avoid reading in the required content areas (Strommen & Mates, 2004).

Academic self-efficacy as it relates to students is the belief and confidence about the capacity to accomplish tasks that are meaningful and produce the results desired in academic settings. According to Pajares, 1996, students who have elevated school related self-efficacy are more motivated and more engaged than those with low self-efficacy. This applies whether students are economically disadvantaged or not, tend to out perform students who are not engaged (Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000). Educators can build self-efficacy by creating interest in new content. When this happens, students are more likely to assert the necessary effort to learn and read if the learning activities and materials associated with the activities is interesting to them (Guthrie & Davis, 2003). More than skill is required. Students must also have the will to learn and read. As such, teachers should be inclined to incorporate a number of instructional practices that encompass multiple forms of literacy, information sources, and students ability to choose when it comes to what they learn (Rycik & Irvin, 2001).

The authors maintain that the most interesting text to students is text they create from their everyday exist as well as content text they readily recognize. Alvermann (2003) argues that students, who may not appear as literate when it comes to academic text, are often very literate and engaged when it comes to utilizing technology that also requires reading such as texting, instant messaging, blogs, video games, magazines, etc. Motivating these students to read when it comes to content text therefore is most effective when connections are made to their regular multi-literary practices (Hinchman, et al., 2003/2004).

Resultantly, introducing text that students can most relate to, from their everyday existence in a variety of genres and transferring that to content lesson plans holds a lot of promise for motivating the "unmotivated student (Worthy, Moorman, & Turner, 1999).

According to Guthrie, "collaboration for motivations refers to critical social networks that support students' literacy and content learning" including collaboration between students and teachers (2008). By creating opportunities for students to work collaboratively with each other in the pursuit of information, increased attention to social motivation serves to drive individual intrinsic motivation and greater academic achievement (Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000).

Reeve, in his article, "Why Teachers Adopt a Controlling Motivating Style Toward Students and How They Can Become More Autonomy Supportive" describes a frequent and all too recurrent paradox in the K-12 classroom wherein teachers implement a controlling style of motivation even though students respond much more favorably developmentally and educationally when their autonomy is supported. The controlling behavior exhibited by teachers is the "interpersonal sentiment and behavior teachers provide during instruction to pressure students to think, feel, or behave in a specific way (Assor, et al., 2005; Reeve, Deci, & Ryan, 2004).

Support of student autonomy is described as interpersonal behavior and sentimentality provided by educations to identify, develop, and nurture students' internal motivational resources (Assor, Kaplan, & Roth, 2002; Reeve et al., 2004). According to the author, this is important because students in autonomy supported situations exhibit significantly more positive classroom behavior, functioning, and achieve greater educational outcomes than students who have controlling teachers (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Reeve & Jang, 2006; Ryan & Deci, 2000).

Recent research shows that teachers frequently enact both controlling behaviors and autonomy supporting behaviors during any given teaching episode; however, the controlling behaviors are much more common (Assor et al., 2002). The conditions that foster a controlling style to motivate students in educators, according to the authors, are when only the teachers' perspective is adopted; when students are pressured to feel, think, and behave in certain ways; and when students' actions, thoughts, and feelings are intruded upon. This may not be the instructors' goal; however, it is frequently the case particularly when teachers look at student motivation from their own perspective. Controlling instructional environments are created when the teachers' perspective overrides the student perspective.

In addition, teacher intrusion is described by Assor and colleagues (2005) as "explicit attempts to fully and instantly change the behaviors children presently engage in or the opinions they hold" (398). These instructor imposed pressures and intrusions cause students to abandon their own internalized frame of reference and natural rhythm and inclination for learning; rather, absorbing and responding to the pressures to alter or change their way of thinking, behaving and feeling.

The controlling motivational style is displayed in two distinct ways, according to Reeve, including external or direct control and internal or indirect control (Assor et al., 2005; Assor, Roth & Deci, 2004; Barber, 1996; Vansteenkiste, et al., 2005). Direct or external control involves a teacher's overt and explicit attempts to motivate students by creating "external compulsions to act" including but not limited to verbal commands, environmental incentives, and imposition of deadlines. This modus operandi causes an externally perceived locus of control for students and environmentally controlled regulation (Reeve 202).

Reeve posits seven reasons why teachers adopt a controlling motivational style.

However, indirect or internal controlling motivational style involves a more subtle approach by the instructor with covert attempts at student motivation by creating internal compulsions to act; for example, through feelings of shame, anxiety, and/or guilt (Barber, 1996), threats to withdraw approval or attention (Assor et al., 2004), attaching a way of thinking, behaving, or feeling to a student's self-esteem (Ryan, 1982), grooming perfectionist self-representations or standards (Soenens, et al., 2005), or offering "conditional regard in a more general way (Assor et al., 2004).

Reeve posits seven reasons why teachers adopt a controlling motivational style. (1) Teachers are in an inherently powerful social role and their interactions with students' places them in a context of an "interpersonal power differential between interactants" (213). Because teaches occupy the position of power in the relationship between students and teachers, they have a significant amount of influence over students. As students are "one down" in this relationship, they are vulnerable to teacher control (Deci & Ryan, 1987). According to empirical research, the person in the one up position typically talks first, sets the tone for any interaction, and takes charge. The person who is one down defers, acquiesces, listens first and can be influenced by the proactive behavior from the one deemed more powerful (Magee, Galinsky & Gruenfeld, 2007). The controlling motivational style is more or less the default interaction style and is consistent with the teachers' inherent social role (Reeve 213).

(2)Teachers are both accountable and responsible. These dual burdens routinely place teachers in job conditions whether they are responsible and accountable for student outcomes and behaviors. There are a number of external forces, for example, state standards, administrators, high-stakes testing, media reports, and parents that assist in placing this dual burden on educators. A trickle down effect tends to occur as teachers feel pressure from…

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