There is a wonderful discussion going on over at Bud the Teacher’s blog regarding Accelerated Reader. The discussion piqued my interest because of the mention of motivation. Here is my comment, and I encourage you to participate.
If you are interested in the motivational theory I often espouse, please visit this link for a great resource. Stay away from the wikipedia article on it, it stinks.
Comment here if you like, but I’d rather hear your voice on Bud’s blog.
Thanks for pinging me on this. While I am not terribly certain what I think about AR, I do have some thoughts about motivation.
However, I will keep them brief since your post is more about AR than about motivation. For what it’s worth, my school recently quit the formal AR program and has implemented something very similar. I am not sufficiently familiar with it to comment on its success or failure, nor am I qualified in that arena.
I want to hone in on what you said here..
“I know that motivation that springs from external sources isnâ€™t terribly motivating when the external motivator is gone. In fact, I know that such external motivation can decrease oneâ€™s intrinsic motivation for the thing that being fiddled with.”
This can be true, but depends entirely on the context. You brought about Deci’s work, he and a second author named Ryan went rounds about this very topic in a series of journal articles.
Suffice it to say, I’d argue motivation is more complex than simply a series of external or internal motivators. I’d posit that motivation is more related to the anticipated value of an activity. When I was growing up I can recall asking teachers when I’d need a particular math skill later in life. Subconsciously I was trying to justift the effort I was going to have to exert to understand/learn/demonstrate the skill.
When one expects little value from a task, one will likely exert little effort. This is precisely why many students abandon school or do only the bare minimum. They see no value in school. But that’s another comment, I suppose.
What I am positing is based on the Expectency-Value theory of motivation, made popular by Eccles and Wigfield. I’d avoid the wikipedia article, it needs help.
EV theory boils down to two questions..
1. Can I do the task?
2. Do I want to do the task?
When it comes to AR, it may be that students anticipate recieving value from the prizes, etc they recieve for reading. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.
I doubt it is creating in them an expectency of value for reading itself.
Perhaps the incentives will help them realize they like reading? No clue.
Either way, EVT forms a nice framework for motivation and deserves a higher place in our discussion.
For more information on EVT, stay away from Wikipedia. Visit this link instead.