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Motivating Learners in open and distance learning: do we need a new theory of learner support?


D Stassinopoulos

on 1 November 2010

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Transcript of Motivating Learners in open and distance learning: do we need a new theory of learner support?

Motivating Learners in open and distance
learning: do we need a new theory of learner

An article by Ormond Simpson

Learning motivation Key theories of Learning motivation Self-determination Theory Epistemological identity theory Achievement Goal theory Self-perceived competence theory Self-concordance model Simpson suggests that there may be two practical models of methodologies
to promote learning motivation. 1. Positive Psychology - Strengths approach

2. Theories of Self (Dweck)
Theories of Self (Dweck) In the article Ormond Simpson successfully argues that a new theory of learner support is neaded in distant learning. This theory is called 'Proactive Motivational Support'
theory. It enables distance educators to support
learners more successfully than existing models Simpson reports through her findings and experiments that Proactive
Motivational Support does support learners Proactive Motivational support shows significant increases in retention by students. ‘Theory without practice is sterile; practice without theory is blind’ (Friedrich Engels 1886). It is unusual that there appears to be little theory involved in learner support in distance learners. Most educators agree that a key to learners success is motivation. A learner who is fully motivated will overcome barriers of situation and time, find ways of developing appropriate skills and be able to deal with the strews of study with very little external support-the ‘independent learner’ concept (Simpson, 2008). Most research into learner motivation focuses on why students are studying.
Little research has been conducted on the effect of learner motivation on student retention or on how a students motivation can be changed by the schools activity towards the learner.
Emphasis is on ‘Autonomous Study motivation’

Courses which allow the students the most freedom in terms of choice of material study, options and general participation in the course structure, tend to have maximum student retention.

Problem with this theory lies in deadlines, fixed submisson dates and instructions from teachers.
Learners being able to say ‘I am convinced this particular learning is exactly right for me'.

Findings suggest that students are consistently withdrawing because of choosing wrong courses and having insufficient time.

Concern with this theory is that course descriptions do not ensure motivation.
Three different type of goals

Mastery – short term goals
Performance- doing well compared to peers
Performance avoidance- trying not to look bad to others

Theory does not suggest other ways that student can be motivated.
Students feel that success is due to luck and unknown causes and generally feel helpless.

Theory does not suggest ways in which motivation might be achieved.
Theory suggests four kids of motivation:

External – driven by outside forces
Introjected – acting in order to avoid guilt and anxiety
Identified- based on subscription to the underlying values of the activity
Intrinsic- driven by curiosity and pleasure

External and introjected associated with lower self esteem
Identified and intrinsic possibly more effective in promoting learning
Positive Psychology - Strengths approach Study of peoples well-being and strengths.
Focus is not what makes people unhappy, but what makes them happy.
Strength on enhancing learner motivation by emphasizing the importance of self-sesteem as a vital factor in learning progress. Success seems to be similarly defined to be in terms of a persons
realization of their potential rather than in terms of external achievemet Proactive Motivational Support The use of two theories to help enhance the motivation in the distance learner Further element needed in this theory is proactive contact by the institution toward the student. ‘student self-referal does not work as a mode of promoting persistence. Students who need services the most refer themselves the least. Effective retention service take the initiative in outreach and timely interventions with those students’ (Anderson, 2003). Dweck’s Self Theory, Boniwell’s Strenghts Approach and Anderson’s taking the initiative to contact students = a theory of learner support – ‘Proactive Motivational Support (PaMS) Characteristics of PaMS Individual – focus on student needs Interactive- interact with teacher support Motivational- use of both self theory and strengths approach Conclusion Some evidence that PaMS may be more successful than conventional theories.

Not enough research to this point.

Basic philosophy of this theory is encouraging and supportive of distance learning.

Focus is how do we motivate the student learner.
One of the most difficult problems in applying a strengths approach to learner support is the possibly hesitant attitudes of teaching staff.
‘the biggest barrier to student retention is the institution itself' (Johnston and Simpson, 2006).
Dweck found that it is more effective to praise students’ efforts rather than their achievements. Indeed she found that praising achievement could actually be counterproductive, as when students thus praised ran into subsequent difficulties they tended to give up more easily, believing that they had reached the ultimate level of what their intelligence could achieve (Simpson, 2008).
Motivating Learners in open and distance
learning: do we need a new theory of learner

Jim Stassinopoulos
All of these theories give a nice summary of learner motivation. What they do not give us is a practical way to
help students deal with motivation. Strengths approach suggests that learners should be encouraged to identify their strengths and apply them to learning. References Anderson, E. (2003). Retention for rookies. Paper presented at the National Student Retention Conference, San Diego, CA.

Dweck, C.S. (1999). Self Theories: Their role in motivation, personality, and development. Philadelphia, PA: Taylor & Francis.

Engels, F (1886). Letter to F.A. Sorge, London, November 29. Retrieved September 14, 2008, from http://www.geocities..om/commlin/quotatons.html

Johnston, V., & Simpson, o. (2006). Retentioneering higher education in the UK: Attitudinal barriers to addressing student retention in universities. Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 8(3), 28-36.

Simpson, O. (2008). ‘Motivating learners in open and distance learning: do we need a new theory of learner support?’, Open Learning: The Journal of Open and Distance Learning 23:3, 159-170
Teachers in distance learning need to be proactive.
Contacting students
Praising effort
Encouraging success
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