There's tons of science about human motivation, and in my work I've argued that a nice way of conceptualizing this science is in this idea: beliefs drive behavior. The degree to which our students 1) do the work of learning and 2) do it with care and effort can be predicted by the degree to which the students believe, in a given learning situation, that…
- Their teacher is credible
- The work is valuable
- The work aligns with their identity (belonging)
- Their effort will bear fruit
- They will ultimately succeed (efficacy)
These five key beliefs form the foundation of most of the professional development I've given in the past three years,* and they are the subject of the most robust chapter in These 6 Things.
But here are some questions I've been pondering lately: How can we check whether or not our students are actually believing these things? How do we measure motivation now, at the end of this crazy school year? How might such data inform productive reflection this summer?
Thankfully, Ohio educator Kristin Foxworth-O'Brien recently wrote to me with an excellent Google Forms survey she's giving her students as we approach the end of this crazy year. It's pretty simple.
Checking for Credibility
The form starts with several questions on teacher credibility, all well-aligned with the CCPR of credibility. The goal here is to get a sense of whether my students thought of me as a good teacher.
There's also a space beneath each belief section for students to elaborate as desired:
Checking for Value
Next, the form looks for the value belief. To what degree did my students find that the learning in my courses was meaningful or useful for their lives?
Checking for Belonging
Next up: the belonging belief. To what degree did my students feel a sense of “fit” between their senses of identity and the learning that we did in my room?
It might be smart here to add a question or two about the switch to emergency remote teaching, too.
Checking for Effort and Efficacy
All five of the key beliefs have a tendency toward intertwining with one another, and that's especially true for effort and efficacy. I like that Kristin placed these beliefs together.
I added a short answer question to this section to see how my students define success. A huge obstacle to the efficacy belief in schools is that our system tends to barrage students with the idea that success is measured by grades and tests.
Finally, Kristin ends with several open-ended questions unrelated to the beliefs but important for reflecting on student perceptions of the year:
Feel free to make a copy and add your own tweaks
Kristin has generously shared this with all of us. Click here to make your own copy of the form, and if you do anything interesting in modifying it, let us all know in the comments to this post. I think a lot of us are thinking about how we can learn as much as possible from Phase 1 so that we're better prepared for whatever the fall looks like.
Here's to a productive end of the school year.
*Would you be interested in remote PD from Dave on the topic of student motivation? Now seeking back-to-school partners
I've started working with schools to develop cost-flexible, remotely delivered professional development for the back-to-school season on the topic of student motivation. No matter which scenario your school faces in the fall — in-person, remote, or hybrid — I believe that the five key beliefs are a mission critical set of understandings that empower teachers to analyze student motivation troubles and act on what they see. The PD I'm working on blends asynchronous and synchronous delivery methods, and I believe it will be an excellent experience for teachers and teams.
If your school would like to explore a cost-flexible partnership for back-to-school time, start by inquiring through the form at the bottom of this page.