Ed Founds Module B Scenario Response: Wayne (2)

Several issues arise out of Wayne’s scenario. From the perspective of human development, three major issues that Wayne faces centre around engagement, motivation and identity. Wayne is concerned about engaging his students in high level learning, encouraging intrinsic motivation to learn, and ensuring a safe and healthy learning environment for students at a stage of potential identity confusion. I will briefly address each of these issues, as I consider that motivation and engagement necessities which can be facilitated by effective teachers. Wayne should be able to apply these ideas regardless of his subject area.

Wayne seeks to deepen his more motivated students’ (MMS) engagement to an intrinsic level. I would recommend he look into a revision of Bloom’s  Taxonomy (Krathwohl, 2002). By encouraging students to generate their own understanding of concepts via evaluative or creative processes, Wayne will increase the chances that they take a personal interest in the learning and thus retain more information as well as thinking about the topic at a conceptual level. If good marks are the major extrinsic motivation, Wayne can explain that highest marks are awarded to responses that show a student’s own high order thinking. The use of this extrinsic motivation may lead some students to engage at a deeper level and foster the intrinsic motivation of intellectual satisfaction  in the process. Wayne may also be able to encourage high order thinking in his less motivated students (LMS), however, in both cases, deeper engagement will depend on motivation to engage in the first place.

Wayne will have an easier time engaging students if he comes to understand some of their personal interests, including plans or goals. He can then design lessons which directly incorporate or accommodate their interests in order to encourage engagement, because learning is more effective when personally relevant or meaningful (Zull, 2004). Students who are under-motivated may not be adequately stimulated. The cerebral cortex can be divided into four areas of processing: sensory (receiving information); sensory-integrative (making sense of sense information); frontal-integrative (making compound ideas); motor (acting on ideas). By addressing each of these areas in his lesson planning, Wayne can maximize the engagement of student brains in learning. However, it is important to reiterate that if students aren’t motivated to participate then their brains will only be minimally engaged. Therefore motivation is an essential compliment to engagement.

It is possible that Wayne’s lessons are pitched outside Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development (ZPD) for some students which would lead to disengagement. If the lessons are pitched above students’ competence; anxiety about the class and the prospect of university learning is likely (Penuel & Wertsch, 1995). By evaluating their current competencies, Wayne will derive information required to appropriately scaffold lessons within the ZPD of his students. If students no longer find the work to be too unfamiliar or difficult they are more likely to be motivated to participate. However Wayne will have to be careful to incorporate high level scaffolds for his higher achieving students so that they do not become bored. This may require a wide range of tasks pitched at different levels which would obviously be a lot of work and a big challenge.

If Wayne believes students are coming to class affected by alcohol or other drugs then he should discuss his observations with the school councilor. It is worth considering the findings of Shedler & Block (1990) in regard to adolescent drug use. Those who experiment with drugs score as the most psychologically and emotionally well-adjusted compared with both frequent users and abstainers. Frequent use was highly correlated with social and psychological maladjustment. If students are using frequently then the councilor should investigate the underlying psychology. It may be that his students are simply tired in the morning, as adolescents  have been robustly shown to have a delayed sleep period (Carskadon et al., 2004); they tend to become wakeful later in the morning. Wayne should consider planning his higher order lessens for after recess.

Student anxiety about university brings to mind Erikson’s ideas on ego identity formation (in Penuel & Wertsch, 1995). This anxiety may relate to confusion about identity regarding the key areas of ideology (what they value) and work (how they want to participate in society), both of which are significant issues for young people deciding whether to go to university and what to study. In order to alleviate this concern, Wayne should again place strong emphasis on the students’ interests and encourage them to discover and focus on the areas in which they have high self-efficacy as possibilities to pursue in future study/work. I would recommend Wayne encourage diversity and discuss alternatives to studying at university immediately after school.


–          Carskadon, M. A., Acebo, C. & Jenni, O. G. (2004) ‘Regulation of Adolescent Sleep: Implications for Behavior’, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, v.1021, pp. 276-291, retrieved 28 April, 2011 from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1196/annals.1308.032/full

–          Krathwohl, D. R. (2002) ‘A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy: An Overview’, Theory into Practice, v.41, n.4, pp. 212-218, retrieved 28 April, 2011 from: http://www.unco.edu/cetl/sir/stating_outcome/documents/Krathwohl.pdf

–          Penuel, W. R. & Wertsch, J. V.(1995) ‘Vygotsky and identity formation: A sociocultural approach’, Educational Psychologist, v.30, n.2, pp. 83-92, retrieved 28 April, 2011 from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15326985ep3002_5

–          Shedler, J. & Block, J. (1990) ‘Adolescent drug use and psychological health: A longitudinal inquiry’, American Psychologist, v.45, n.5, pp. 612-630, retrieved 28 April, 2011 via UC library.

–          Zull, J. E. (2004) ‘The Art of Changing the Brain’, Educational Leadership, v.62, n.1, pp. 68-72, retrieved 28 April, 2011 from: http://coe.winthrop.edu/marchelc/Brain%20Development/brain%20pages/aarticles/the_art_of_changing_the_brain.pdf


~ by hamishryansblog on April 28, 2011.

4 Responses to “Ed Founds Module B Scenario Response: Wayne (2)”

  1. Nice work Hamish – a comprehensive look at the situation on different levels.

    I agree with your thoughts about ensuring that the students have an opportunity to understand what quality teaching / assessment expectations will be. As one of Jones (2003) 50 suggestions to boost learning in the classroom, developing curriculum rubrics with the students input and setting high expectations backed up with timely feedback will allow the students to try to be emotionally attached to the content. It makes sense for Wayne to do this as it adds to a more mature classroom – which can be linked to the desired future environment at university.

    Wayne may also want to look at Social Emotional Learning (SEL) as discussed by Elias (2006, p.5), in which academic teaching ties in with SEL to provide a positive learning environment. I suspect that Wayne is trying to understand an imbalance in his approach. As Hamish points out, there are two types of learners. Overall though Wayne wants ALL an effective lasting academic learning and SEL are built on caring relationships and warm but challenging classroom and school environments.” (Elias, 2006, p. 7). He is looking at understanding and demonstrating empathy in order to get the students interested in learning in the Gardner tradition.

    Elias, M.J. (2006). The connection between academic and social-emotional learning (Ch. 1). In M.J. Elias & H. Arnold (Eds), The educator’s guide to emotional intelligence and academic achievement : social-emotional learning in the classroom (pp. 4-14). Corwin Press.
    Joseph, John (2003), Learning with the Brain in Mind, Focus Education Australia

  2. This is a really thorough and helpful blog post Hamish. It was great to see suggestions from so many different theoretical perspectives that address the issues of both the engaged and disengaged students. I do agree that the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) is something that Wayne could use to his advantage to be able to monitor his students and make sure that he isn’t leaving anyone behind with new concepts but also not boring students who might already have that particular knowledge (Churchill et al., 2011).
    Perhaps Wayne could look further into Maslow and Rogers’s work and the idea of learner-centered education (Churchill et al., 2011). Wayne should be more focused on the idea of his students perhaps rather than his curriculum. If Wayne used Rogers approach then students would feel more able to further their own learning and seek information for themselves (Churchill et al., 2010). This might encourage students who perhaps want more work in class and let the students who are a bit less engaged to explore the topic to their potential as well.

  3. Hi Hamish, thanks for this. An engaging, enjoyable read.

    I agree with your thoughts on encouraging intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is pretty powerful stuff and can have all sorts of beneficial effects in terms of student engagement (Deci & Ryan, 2000) as well as other mental health benefits. I also agree that high marks seem to be the major motivator for his keener students, but I wonder about your assertion that an extrinsic motivator can lead to intrinsic motivation. In a strict sense (I realise I’m being a little pedantic here), intrinsic motivation is simply motivation due to the pure enjoyment of involvement in a task (Deci & Ryan, 2000). In my mind, external factors are of limited benefit in internalizing motivation. For this to happen, the reason for the importance of some task has to be assimilated, which is unlikely to happen by Wayne simply telling his students that deeper engagement will lead to higher marks.

    Your next point, I think, is right on the money. To help his students internalise motivation for the subject and engage more deeply, he needs to help them discover how his subject relates to their interests (Reeve et al., 2004). He can do this exactly as you say, by finding out what drives and interests them and then finding authentic learning tasks for them that are in line with their interests and values. He should avoid controlling behaviours and being too critical of his students (Assor, Kaplan & Roth, 2002). Instead, he should focus on trying to be a facilitator of learning and give his students choice and challenging tasks . Instead of focussing on marks, he can focus on encouraging effort and praising mastery (Ames, 1992).


    Ames C “Classrooms: Goals, structures and student motivation,” Journal of Educational Psychology, 84(3):261-271

    Assor, A; Kaplan, H & Roth, G (2002) “Choice is good, but relevance is excellent: autonomy-enhancing and suppressing teacher behaviours predicting students’ engagement in schoolwork,” British Journal of Educational Psychology, 72:261-278

    Deci, E & Ryan, R (2000) “Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: classic definitions and new directions,” Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25: 54-67

    Reeve, R; Jang, H; Carrell, D; Jeon, S & Barch, J (2004) “Enhancing Students’ Engagement by Increasing Teachers’ Autonomy Support” Motivation and Emotion, 28(2):147-169

  4. […] time, I’ve commented on Hamish’s blog and chasingmrchips’ blog. This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged blog […]

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