Thursday, July 13, 2006

Jere Brophy

I'm doing some research into motivation and learning right now. It's surprising how rare it is to see people openly acknowledge that most educational research on motivation implies coersion -- basically trying to answer the question: "how do we get people to do something they otherwise would not?". I'm not finding much research focusing on how people choose what they want to learn, a process which inherently reflects motivation (what do I want and why?).

In An Interview with Jere Brophy (pdf), this psychologist, researcher and educational leader outlines the paradox of motivation and education:
"What we know about optimal conditions for motivation is difficult to apply in classrooms, for several reasons. First, school attendance is compulsory, and curriculum content and learning activities are selected primarily on the basis of what society believes students need to learn, not on the basis of what students would choose to do if given the opportunity. Schools are established for the benefit of students, but from students’ point of view, time spent in the classroom is devoted to enforced attempts to meet externally imposed demands."
And another:
"I believe that the constraints under which most teachers work make it unrealistic to adopt intrinsic motivation as the model of student motivation that one seeks to maintain on an all-day, everyday basis. It is more realistic for teachers to seek to develop and sustain what I call motivation to learn, which I define as a student tendency to find academic activities meaningful and worthwhile and to seek to get the intended learning benefits from them, whether or not they find the content interesting or the processes enjoyable."


tystl said...

Love your blog; you always post on a variety of interesting topics. Maybe you have already come across these authors, but I didn't see them in your thesis concept map and thought they might be relevant.

Richard De Charms defined what he called "origin" and "pawn" orientations in the classroom. In a classroom with an origin orientation, students appear to have some say; in pawn classrooms, children are treated like pawns, controlled by the teacher. Children tend to be internally motivated and have a greater sense of personal responsibility in origin classrooms.

Edward Deci and Richard Ryan developed the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) of human motivation. "The theory focuses on the degree to which human behaviors are volitional or self-determined - that is, the degree to which people endorse their actions at the highest level of reflection and engage in the actions with a full sense of choice."

I hope this is of interest to you.

Jeremy said...

Thanks, tystl. I hadn't come across De Charms yet, but I've been immersed in Deci and Ryan this week. Fascinating stuff, and quite closely aligned with my emerging beliefs about motivation.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info...I needed to find 4 websites for Ed Psych Class on Jere Brophy and I stumbled across yours.It was somewhat helpful but I thought you could have more to say about his theories.