3250- Instructional Strategies

Here’s a link to my digital project on a student engagement technique called the Background Knowledge Probe.


Here’s a sample of one of my Reflective Journals.

According to Barkley, “motivation is the portal to engagement” (2010, p.15). I have chosen to write my first journal entry on this quote. I found the chapters interesting to read and found this quote to be a very accurate statement. Motivation refers to the “energy we put into accomplishing something we want to do and can be either extrinsic or intrinsic” (Merriam and Bierema, 2014, p.166). In the classroom, Brophy defines motivation as “the level of enthusiasm and the degree to which students invest attention and effort in learning” (as cited in Barkley, 2010, p.9). If student engagement is where learning begins, then motivation is the portal to that learning.
I chose this quote because I agree with it. As an instructor, I have to motivate my learners to learn before they can be engaged in their learning. Simply providing learners with an overabundance of knowledge does not keep them engaged in their learning. The Dental Assisting program that I currently instruct, involves 4 hour daily theory lectures with large amounts of information for the first 2 months of the program while most learners are still keen and motivated to learn. I do find that some learners are not motivated right from the beginning of the course and this is usually because a parent has pushed them into making a decision for further education in which they have no interest in. When discussing student motivation, Crone and MacKay wonder “whether or not students have made educational activities a true priority: whether they have chosen to fully invest their time and energy in their college experience” (2007, p.19). These learners have no invested interest in the course, often show up late, sometimes not at all and have no motivation for learning. Barkley refers to these learners as “failure-accepting” (2010, p.12). These learners are unmotivated and have already removed themselves emotionally and mentally from the learning process (Barkley, 2010). These learners usually only stay in my program for the first month and then are asked to leave. This is simply reinforcing their acceptance for failure. It’s a vicious cycle.
I’m very fortunate that after that first 2 months of intense theory, we incorporate a clinic/lab lesson that follows the theory lesson. I notice a big difference in the learners engagement once they start moving around, working together and using their practical skills. Some learners do struggle using their hands, but they are still engaged and motivated to keep learning. I often wonder if those unmotivated learners had somehow been motivated, would they have been just as engaged by this time?
As a learner, I am very motivated to learn new things all the time. But I now realize that not all learners have that same internal motivation. I find that after about 6-7 months into my 11 month program, my learners start slowly disengaging. It’s definitely my time as an instructor to externally motivate them to get their internal motivation revved up again. I’ve been instructing for 2 ½ years now and this lack of motivation happens every time about the same time in the program. I’m very fortunate that this happens when it does because the heaviest portion of the program is already completed. Learners are then working on their practical skills, working together in partners and getting closer to their completion date.
As an instructor, providing motivation at this time in the program is a lot easier. If I start to slowly see a lack of engagement in my learners, I take a few minutes for reflection. It’s time for learners to take a look back on how far they’ve come and for them to realize that they should be proud that so much is already behind them.
As an instructor, by better “understanding the complexities that underlie motivation can guide us in our efforts to set conditions that enhance students’ eagerness to learn” (Barkley, p.15). So, by gathering more information and having a better understanding of motivation, I should be able to apply these strategies to my classroom, which will enable learners to be more engaged. By externally motivating my learners to enable them to be more internally motivated, this will enhance their engagement into their learning. I’m looking forward to reading the next chapters and learning more strategies to enhance student motivation.

Barkley, E. (2010). Student engagement techniques: A handbook for college faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Crone, I., & MacKay, K. (2007). Motivating today’s college students. Peer Review, 9(1), 18-21.
Merriam, S.B., & Bierema, L.L. (2014). Adult learning: Linking theory and practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.