Just stumbled across a blog post from Annie Murphy Paul that almost directly mirrors the motivational theories I’m working on with The Puzzle School:
My only issue with the article is in #3:
3. Encourage students to beat their personal best. Some learning tasks, like memorizing the multiplication table or a list of names or facts, are simply not interesting in themselves. Generate motivation by encouraging students to compete against themselves: run through the material once to establish a baseline, then keep track of how much they improve (in speed, in accuracy) each time.
If you changed this to:
3. Help students see their progress. Nothing is more motivating than the feeling of making progress toward a goal. Such was proven through a massive study conducted by Professor Teresa Amabile at Harvard and is detailed in The Progress Principle. Find ways to make the progress students are making more tangible. Some ideas may include keeping a journal or taking a pre-test that students expect to do poorly on so that they can see how much they’ve improved as they progress.
I’d be much happier with it. Her #3 is ok, I just think an overall sense of progress is better than simply focusing on beating a personal best. I wish I had some better ideas on how to make progress more tangible. It’s something I think a lot about, but it’s very challenging and can be easy to over-do…