What Motivates Students to Want to Learn

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What Motivates Students to Want to Learn?

Joan Marie Giampa

Abstract integrate into paper and delete abstract
Integrate student responses from this semester

There is a scene in the movie, Jerry McGuire (1997), when Jerry is pleading with his client Tidwell, to show him how to help him. This scene, although dramatic, demonstrates the feelings of frustrations that some teachers go through to motivate their students..


I am an athlete, not an entertainer. These are the ABC’s Of ME. Get it? I don’t dance.
Jerry rubs face.



What’s wrong?


Forget it. Forget it.


No, tell me.


I’m out here for you! You don’t know what it’s like to be me out here for you. It is an up-at-dawn pride-swallowing siege that I will never fully tell you about! Okay?! Help me help you help me help you.

You’re hanging by a very thin thread, dude. And I dig that about you (p. 81).

The research takes place in an introduction to design course. The class predominantly consists of freshmen and first time students. The focus of the study involved the planning stages of a group project—planned by the students and facilitated by the instructor. The research and feedback in this paper is a result of classroom research techniques such as “punctuated lecture” (Cross, 1986, p. 66-67) and mind-mapping techniques. Within the study, the students are asked to answer the question, “So what do you think your role is in this project?”

Teaching can be challenging and teaching art is no different. Both require a great deal of formal and informal criticism. Sometimes the critical analysis inhibits the reason we are here—which is to learn from each other. I consider classroom research to be a form of critical analysis, which analyzes both teacher and student. Therefore, it is important to note that classroom research is hard work, and taking on this task, in conjunction with teaching, is to be applauded. Looking into the mirror of teaching can reflect serene waters, or raging rivers, so be prepared for the adventure. This semester was the first time I engaged in classroom research. I never thought I would be under the microscope as much, or more, than my students. I spent most of the semester observing my students observe me, and some of the semester observing the students. What was most important is that I became conscious of what I was doing in the classroom. Schulman (1998) calls this type of observation “a going Meta,” when he stated that: The scholarship of teaching (SOTL) is not synonymous with excellent teaching, it requires a kind of “going meta” in which faculty frame and systematically investigate questions related to student learning—conditions under which it occurs, what it looks like, how to deepen it and so forth. The scholarship of teaching is a condition. It is the mechanism in which teaching itself advances, through which teaching can be something other than a seat of the pants operation, with each of us out there making it up as we go. (p. 4)

Classroom research keeps the learning in the moment. In addition, like art, classroom research, can be uncomfortable if you are not prepared for some negative feedback you may get from students. The result of the classroom research data in this paper is not earthshaking, and there is some hesitancy to share it. Like painting, classroom research reveals opens the door to criticism, which is the same uncomfortable feeling one gets when sharing their artwork with the public. Therefore, I propose, that classroom research, like teaching and art, is an act of bravery, when the work opens up to the public for peer review.

The Context: A Course in Foundation Arts, Design 131

As a teacher,. I find that my best...
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