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Web-based learning triggers autonomous motivation - News Script From numerous occasions of disruptive behavior in lectures we concluded that the traditional lecture format seemingly lacked purpose. We have countered this type of behaviour not be sanctions but by creating a more engaging, motivating and learning-centered environment. To achieve this we have sought inspiration in theories and findings about the facilitation of engagement and chose the Self-Determination Theory of motivation. The outcome of our reflection led in 2012 to a complete overhaul of the introductory cell biology course by offering students more say. In a new publication we describe how students perceive and react to these changes.

 

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Date: 08/29/2017

Web-based learning triggers autonomous motivation

Biology students find cell biology interesting and over a period of 16 years the introductory cell biology course attained high retention rates (exceeding 80%) and received good scores in course-surveys. Despite this a substantial number of students fail to remain engaged in lectures. In many instances these students exhibited disruptive behaviour: they would frequently form "discussion groups" on unrelated subjects, incessantly consult messages or would watch and share unrelated videos on their smartphones or laptops. Students could not pinpoint the predominant underlying cause, arguments ranged from high cognitive load to not seeing the point of being focused because the content was fully covered anyway by multimedia resources. We wished to counter this type of behavior by creating a more engaging, motivating and learning-centered environment. We also thought that we should not try to oppose the students' desire to talk with each other nor counter their interest in social media and information technology, but rather find ways in which it engaged them to learn. To achieve this we have sought inspiration in theories and findings about the facilitation of engagement and chose the Self-Determination Theory of motivation (Ryan & Deci). The outcome of our reflection led in 2012 to a complete overhaul of the cell biology course by offering students more say; more choice (autonomy) and a stronger sense of perceived competence and relatedness. Firstly, lectures became "structured", meaning that they comprised a blend of activities including teacher-centered teaching, quizzes with the use of student response systems ("clickers") and short exercises in which students had to explore the web to find the answers. Secondly, we replaced practical classes with an open-ended collaborative project in which the students created a science-writing blog. The recently published study deals with the science-writing blog project. Through surveys over a period of 4 years, we assessed how students perceived the blog project. Qualitative analyses revealed that students recognized and appreciated their autonomy. They also consistently considered as positive a sense of competence, expressed as feeling useful. Students often mentioned relatedness, i.e. relating with others on the Web and working as a team. A quantitative analysis based on an intrinsic-motivation inventory revealed that students experienced science-writing on the web as an intrinsically motivating learning task. We conclude that web-based learning triggers motivation to learn autonomously and discuss how task authenticity may play an important role in this process.

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Last Updated July 14, 2010 3:45 PM | admin news