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Motivation Centered Learning

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Abstract

This Research Work in Progress Paper evaluates students’ motivation sources and shows the high impact that work of professors has on students’ motivation. Common goal of most professors is to help students acquiring knowledge and competencies that are relevant for their further life. From the beginning of Universities’ history, lectures are usually chosen to reach this goal but it is seen in recent years that they are in many cases not the optimal choice. In the last years, many efforts were made to increase students knowledge gain. From learning and motivation psychology research, many details are known how humans remember and transfer knowledge. These research results are used to create new lecture formats to activate students. Research based learning, project based lab courses, problem based learning, feedback systems, flipped classroom, blended learning and gamification in lectures are only some examples for new formats. Common goal of all these new types of learning formats is to increasing students’ motivation and to enhance learning success. In this paper, evaluations using a questionnaire with open questions were done among first year students, bachelor students before graduation and alumni, about their sources of motivation and demotivation. Interesting curricula and lectures with application related topics and possibilities for own work are the main sources of motivation. Enthusiastic professors with high competences and good lecture didactics also contribute to students’ motivation. On the other side, demotivated professors with boring lectures play a much higher role for demotivating students. Therefore, it is necessary to integrate aspects of student motivation into curriculum and lecture design and professors should become aware that they are important role-models for motivating or demotivating students.
Motivation Centered Learning
Thomas Fuhrmann
Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology
Ostbayerische Technische Hochschule Regensburg
Seybothstr. 2, 93053 Regensburg, Germany
E-mail: thomas.fuhrmann@oth-regensburg.de
Abstract—This Research Work in Progress Paper evaluates
students’ motivation sources and shows the high impact that
work of professors has on students’ motivation.
Common goal of most professors is to help students acquiring
knowledge and competencies that are relevant for their further
life. From the beginning of Universities’ history, lectures are
usually chosen to reach this goal but it is seen in recent years that
they are in many cases not the optimal choice. In the last years,
many efforts were made to increase students knowledge gain.
From learning and motivation psychology research, many details
are known how humans remember and transfer knowledge.
These research results are used to create new lecture formats
to activate students. Research based learning, project based
lab courses, problem based learning, feedback systems, flipped
classroom, blended learning and gamification in lectures are only
some examples for new formats. Common goal of all these new
types of learning formats is to increasing students’ motivation
and to enhance learning success.
In this paper, evaluations using a questionnaire with open
questions were done among first year students, bachelor students
before graduation and alumni, about their sources of motiva-
tion and demotivation. Interesting curricula and lectures with
application related topics and possibilities for own work are
the main sources of motivation. Enthusiastic professors with
high competences and good lecture didactics also contribute to
students’ motivation. On the other side, demotivated professors
with boring lectures play a much higher role for demotivating
students. Therefore, it is necessary to integrate aspects of student
motivation into curriculum and lecture design and professors
should become aware that they are important role-models for
motivating or demotivating students.
I. INT ROD UC TI ON
One important goal for professors all over the world is to
educate students for a successful professional career. This goal
is only achievable with motivated students who are engaged in
their study courses and are eager to be successful. On the other
hand, professors often talk to each other about achieved results
and are sometimes frustrated about the low performance of
many students. These talks negatively influences professors’
view on students’ learning success and can lead to a self-
fulfilling prophecy [11].
Personalities of young people changed over the last years
and this influences learning success in study programs [5].
It leads to a mismatch between professors’ and students’
expectations how good education should be [31]. For an
optimal education it is an important question for professors
how students’ motivations are influenced by all factors inside
and outside the curriculum. Due to the complex topic, this
article gives neither receipts nor final outcomes about student
motivation. The goal is to summarize known aspects and to
supply data from a student evaluation for a discussion among
professors about the importance of student motivation for
successful study.
In the next Section, sources of motivation are depicted.
Different methods for increasing student motivation are de-
scribed in Section III. Afterwards, methodology and results of
an evaluation about student motivation is shown in Section IV.
Results are interpreted in Section V, conclusion and outlook
are given in Section VI.
II. SO UR CE S OF MOT IVATIO N
Motivation and learning psychology are well established
research fields. There are two main types of motivation the-
ories. One focuses on the dualism of intrinsic and extrinsic
motivation, the other interprets motivation to be a multifaceted
topic which can’t be reduced to two sources [36]. Various
motivation theories for learning are known, which emphasize
on expectancy-value, attribution, social-cognitive, goal orient-
ation and self-determination [6]. Motivational design models
are made to build up environments for fostering motivation
[22].
Self-determination says that the important sources of self-
motivation and mental health are “competence, autonomy and
realtedness” [38]. Passion for the things you do is an essential
source of motivation and engagement [9]. Meaningful work is
very important for the motivation of students to see positive
results of one’s own efforts [18].
Higher-order learning is most important for students; they
solve problems, think critically, analyze and synthesize com-
plex topics, express orally and in written texts. Reasons to
motivate or demotivate students for this type of learning are
complex [10].
III. MET HO DS TO INCREASE STUDENT MOT IVATIO N
Professors all over the world wish to increase student
motivation in various disciplines using different methods [15,
16, 40] and frameworks [27]. Motivation leads to students with
higher activities that significantly increases learning outcome
and examination success rate [13, 26, 30, 35]. Several new
lecture formats are used to achieve this goal; they activate
students [21] to increase self-determined learning [7, 12],
students see own results [33, 41], collaborate with each other
[17] and get direct feedback [39]. From the first day as
a student, reasons for lecture contents are displayed with
978-1-5386-1174-6/18/$31.00 ©2018 IEEE
connections to industrial work [20, 29, 37] and also new
types of laboratory exercises are developed [3]. Project Based
Learning is one appropriate means to enhance motivation [4,
19, 34] and learning success [14] using different technologies
like LEGO R
[28].
With increased information technology abilities, online
learning is increasing during recent years with new challenges
for student motivation when implementing courses without
personal contact [2]. Gamification is one chance to increase
motivation by using computer support for learning stimula-
tion, higher self-determination, direct feedback of success and
encouragement [1, 23].
It is known that role models and guidance by personal
examples are very important for motivation, which can be
seen in numerous examples [8]. Therefore it is known that
professors should act as role models for students.
It is seen that student motivation is the key factor for study
success. All these measures have in common to improve stu-
dent motivation with self-determined learning, seeing results
of own work, experiencing success and having direct feedback.
IV. EVALUATION OF MOT IVATIO N AN D DEM OTI VATION
A. Scope
Many papers are published, which evaluate motivational
sources and student motivation levels. Most of these evalu-
ations are done for single lectures or lab courses to get mo-
tivation levels. Therefore, detailed questionnaires with closed
questions are normally used to obtain a quantitative level of
motivation.
The questions of this evaluation are about the overall
sources of student motivation and demotivation within the
bachelor program “Electrical Engineering and Information
Technology”. Therefore, a questionnaire with open questions
was chosen for getting the overall motivation of students for
their entire bachelor program.
B. Methodology
Different techniques for measuring learning motivation are
used [25]. Most motivation measurement techniques use closed
questions to calculate a numeric degree of motivation [24, 30,
32]. These methods induce that answer possibilities are fixed
when designing the questionnaire; no new ideas, induced by
student answers can be discovered.
Therefore it was decided to use open questions which
can’t be answered by checking boxed due to the fact that
motivation is a complex question with diverse aspects that
are difficult to be predicted when setting up the questionnaire.
Also unexpected topics can be stated by students that introduce
completely new views.
Therefore two questions were chosen, which should be
answered with free texts on one page:
What motivates you during your studies?
What DEmotivates you during your studies?
This chosen questionnaire was as short as possible and fo-
cused on both central topics to attain a high motivation of
students to seriously and extensively answer these questions.
Table I
MOTI VATI ON A ND DEM OTI VATION SOURCES FOR FI RST YE AR BAC HEL OR
STUDENTS
Question Cluster Percentage of Answers
Motivation Demotivation
University 9.3% 5.2%
Study Program 48.7% 65.1%
Professors 12.6% 16.6%
Job 21.2% 0.0%
Private Surroundings 1.9% 3.5%
Personal Characteristics 6.3% 9.6%
Both questions for motivation and demotivation where asked
explicitly because sources for motivation and demotivation are
not automatically contrary but can have different reasons.
The questionnaire was distributed in the class room, students
had about ten minutes time to fill in their thoughts and it was
collected afterwards. The whole process was fully anonymous.
Alumni were contacted and asked the same questions using
a social media platform. Their answers were anonymized for
evaluation.
C. Evaluation
Free texts with differing lengths and levels of detail are
categorized to get comparable and analyzable results. Answer
categories are clustered according to the following criteria:
University infrastructure,
content and organization of the study program,
knowledge, dedication and didactics of the professors,
job opportunities and payment,
private surroundings like city, parents and friends,
personal characteristics.
The number of possible answers per student was unlim-
ited. All questionnaires were answered seriously. The answer
lengths ranged from buzzwords to texts that filled the whole
page.
D. Results from First Year Bachelor Students
Students at the beginning of their second semester were
chosen as the first group for evaluation. They already exper-
ienced one full semester with theoretical lectures, exercises
and exams; but they had nearly no practical lab courses and
no internships to see connections between theory and practice.
It is expected that not all of these evaluated students will reach
their bachelor degree. Some of them will change their study
program or will completely quit studying.
84 students of the second semester answered the question-
naire. Aggregated results can be seen in Table I.
The main source of motivation is the study program itself
with 48.7% answers; students want to gain knowledge, have
interesting topics, connect theory with practice and have
success in their studies. The second most answers mention
interesting and good job opportunities with 21.2%. Professors
play a medium significant role for students motivation (12.6%)
with their own motivation and good lectures.
Table II
MOTI VATI ON A ND DEM OTI VATION SOURCES FOR FI NAL YE AR
BACH ELO R STUDENTS
Question Cluster Percentage of Answers
Motivation Demotivation
University 10.4% 2.8%
Study Program 70.9% 55.6%
Professors 8.3% 30.5%
Job 10.4% 0.0%
Private Surroundings 0.0% 2.8%
Personal Characteristics 0.0% 8.3%
Students are demotivated by the study program itself
(65.1%) due to too high workload and difficulties. The second-
most reason for demotivation is caused by insufficient di-
dactics of professors (16.6%). Students also complain about
personal problems (9.6%) like not enough leisure time.
Some typical answers of students for sources of motivation
are (translated by the author):
“Good opportunities for a job that is as interesting as
expected. Change the future of tomorrow. My Mum.”
“Sense of achievement when program code works.
Exam pressure.”
Typical answers for sources of demotivation are:
“Packed timetable. No free time. No chance to learn
all necessary topics.”
“Too little time for non-university activities. No pos-
sibility to choose elective courses. Boring lectures
given by some professors.
E. Results from Final Year Bachelor Students
The second evaluated group of students started with their
sixth semester; they already had all fundamental lectures, ap-
plication oriented lectures, elective courses, several lab courses
and an industrial internship. They are now in their last study
phase with elective courses to deepen their chosen study field
and will soon start with their final thesis.
All 12 Students of the lecture “Communication Systems”
answered the questionnaire. Aggregated results are shown in
Table II.
The last year students were mainly motivated by their study
program (70.9%) with interesting topics, gaining knowledge
and connecting theory and practice. All other sources of
motivation like University environment, job opportunities and
professors play minor roles.
Students can be demotivated by the study program (55.6%)
with too high workload and a non-optimal timetable. The
second most mentioned source of demotivation are professors
(30.5%) with insufficient didactics in lectures.
Typical answers for sources of motivation are:
“Insights into interesting topics. Many job possibil-
ities. Understanding of complex things. Interest in
electrical engineering itself. Importance of topics in
today’s world. Motivated professors.”
Table III
MOTI VATI ON A ND DEM OTI VATION SO URC ES I N ALUMNI SURVE Y
Question Cluster Percentage of Answers
Motivation Demotivation
University 7.5% 2.3%
Study Program 71.3% 68.2%
Professors 12.5% 22.7%
Job 7.5% 0.0%
Private Surroundings 0.0% 4.5%
Personal Characteristics 1.2% 2.3%
“Chances for a good job. Get to know new people.
Interesting topics and professors who also tell about
their own professional life. Clear study structures
and tasks in lectures and labs.”
Students wrote for sources of demotivation:
“Organizational problems e.g. with timetable. Lib-
rary overcrowded. Few unmotivated professors. A
little less time for basic theory. Not enough exercise
tasks. Not enough time for self study.
“Unclear study structures and confusion in lectures.
Distraction by advantages of the city. Own laziness.”
F. Results from Alumni
Alumni with an industrial working experience between two
and about ten years were asked to think about their motivation
and demotivation as students in retrospect.
31 alumni answered the questionnaire, which was sent to
them using a social media platform. The aggregated results
can be seen in Table III.
Also for the alumni, the main source of motivation came
from the study program itself (71.3%) with connections
between theory and practice, interesting topics and the pos-
sibility to gain knowledge. The second most important source
of motivation were professors (12.5%) with their commitment.
Other topics play only a minor role for alumni.
They were demotivated during their study mainly due to
their study program (68.2%). These were uninteresting lecture
topics and too high study demands. The second most im-
portant source of demotivation were professors (22.7%) with
insufficient lecture didactics. All other topics are of negligible
importance.
Alumni stated about their motivation sources:
“Topics with personal interest. These were especially
the lab courses where theoretical knowledge could
be used and deepened.”
“Connections to applications. Lab courses with state
of the art topics. Short distances and small groups.
Good knowledge exchange between students. Small
group and good atmosphere within the dual study
group. View on different areas of applications. Using
knowledge in Formula Student team.
They answered about their sources of demotivation:
“Lectures that were uninteresting for me but import-
ant for the whole study program.”
“No clear learning objectives. No clear connection
to practical applications. Too short exam periods.
Theoretical lectures.”
V. INTERPRETATIO N OF EVAL UATIONS
When comparing all three evaluations it can be seen a clear
shift in students’ opinions.
For the first year students, good job opportunities have a
high impact for study motivation. Also factors in personal life
are important for study motivation and demotivation. Friends
at the University are important to form learning groups and
to get acquainted with the new surrounding. Also the high
workload together with the high academic challenge in the first
study year can be seen. Even a small success like mastering
a programming exercise is important for first year students to
gain motivation.
For the last year students, the personal topics and job
perspectives (although they are very good) lost importance and
nearly all answers concentrate on the study program itself. But
insufficient didactics of lectures are also important reasons for
student demotivation.
Alumni main motivation came from the study program itself
and emphasized the close connection of theory and practice.
They were demotivated by uninteresting topics and also by
insufficient lecture didactics.
For all students, the study program with interesting topics
and the possibility of acquiring knowledge is the main source
of study motivation. The engagement of professors and good
lecture didactics play medium to minor roles for students’
motivation; but professors who are demotivated or give lec-
tures with insufficient didactics are the second most important
source for demotivation after the study program itself.
VI. CONCLUSION AND OU TL OO K
This evaluation leads to the conclusion that sources of
motivation and demotivation are changing over the time being
a student. Freshmen have a higher dependence on topics
outside the study program itself like family, friends and
personal topics. More experienced students focus on the study
program itself. The most important source for motivation and
demotivation for all evaluated cohorts is the study program
and are the lecture topics. Innovative curricula and learning
methods are measures to increase student motivation, which
are very important for a high learning success. Therefore it is
very important to take student motivation into account when
designing study programs and deciding about lecture topics.
This evaluation also leads to the conclusion that the way
how lectures are given is the second most important source
for motivation and demotivation. Therefore it is important for
professors to think about their own motivation, appropriate
lecture didactics and to develop it further.
In sum, professors play the key role in student motivation.
They directly influence motivation with their role model and
good lecture didactics. Their indirect influence is even higher
when designing curricula and lectures.
It is planned to do further research to gain more insights
into student motivation and the impact on study success.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
The author would like to thank all colleagues, students and
alumni for intense discussions about motivation and demotiva-
tion, which clarified many details and led to new conclusions.
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A reality of conducting motivation research in educational settings is that there are tensions between technical standards of research and practical constraints of a given situation. Although adherence to standards for high-quality measurement is critical for good quality data to be collected, measurement also requires substantial resources to ensure quality. In the current chapter, we discuss several examples of real data collected in different educational settings using a pragmatic measurement framework. Based on contemporary measurement perspectives, the pragmatic measurement framework emphasizes building evidence-based arguments to support the use and interpretation of a measure. Example 1 explores college students’ attitudes toward general education classes. Example 2 tracks students’ classroom motivation over several time points. Example 3 assesses experimental differences from an online motivation intervention. Together the three examples cover a range of possible research questions that researchers may encounter. As a whole, this chapter demonstrates that important and meaningful insights can be gained using pragmatic approaches to measurement. Importantly, we discuss the trade-offs that researchers or other measure users must consider when adopting a pragmatic approach to measurement.
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The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of lab activity gamification on students’ motivation, engagement, and learning outcome based on students’ performance and students’ perspective. This study was an extension of our previous studies, which only considered the data from gamification systems, leaving several open questions about students’ perspective. Two types of websites, Gamification (GM) and Non-gamification (NG) were used. While the GM website included game elements such as a Badge System, Score, Avatar, Leaderboard, Level, and Feedback (Notification), the NG website was a traditional website without game elements. In these websites, students conducted two main activities: creating their own questions (MCQs) and answering questions authored by classmates. Students were asked to complete the questionnaire regarding active learning, game elements, and motivation. Several statistical analyses were conducted to test four hypotheses, and results indicated support for all hypotheses. The results suggest that the application of gamification in engineering lab activities as a supporting tool has a positive effect on students’ motivation, engagement, and learning outcome based on the consistency between students’ performance in and subjective satisfaction with the gamification system. In addition, the results of frequency analysis indicate that 80% of students were motivated by ‘‘Ranking’’ and ‘‘Score’’ and 50% of students felt fun due to ‘‘Badges’’, ‘‘Feedback’’, and ‘‘Avatar’’. Students chose ‘‘Ranking’’ and ‘‘Score’’ as the game elements to be retained in the new gamification system.
Conference Paper
A key component of the tertiary education system is the negotiation of common expectations in terms of pedagogy and the manner in which learning is scaffolded in the learning context. This paper addresses this interplay of perspectives by drawing on two elements of our previous work, a longitudinal study of student identity development [1] and a study contrasting project course students’ experiences with teachers’ expectations [2]. The paper develops a model of student interaction with teachers and the higher education system, which contributes to a better understanding of the consequences of recent changes and trends in higher education, e.g. demands for activating students, in- creased level of detail in course specifications, and examination of ”non-core subject content”. This is an immensely complex area and we approach this challenge with a focus on the issue of students rejecting learning opportunities. Through this lens we will identify and illustrate some essential aspects of how to adapt educational settings to better accommodate how students behave and view the goal of their education.