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Re: Student Centered Success, Motivation & Self-Efficacy


Leonard Geddes <[log in to unmask]>


Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]>


Thu, 3 Mar 2016 14:28:17 -0500





text/plain (163 lines)


Thanks for sharing this experience. I’ve seen this movie many times. I think three things may be useful to your students. Unfortunately, this forum only allows me to introduce these ideas. My distant read of your students issue involves a faulty approach to learning, poorly defined tasks, and inadequate metrics.
Approaches to Learning — Several researchers, mostly outside of the USA, have found that all students have an approach to learning that accompanies them to school. This approach can either be shallow or deep. If students operate from a surface approach, then they will only engage functions associated with memorization. Students need a proper understanding that learning goes through stages on its way from fragility to stability. They must go through a period of high-effort with seemingly little returns on their initial investments, then progress through what I call the “messy, mirky middle,” a pivotal zone of complexity. Unfortunately, students don’t realize that this zone is necessary and a sign of pending growth. So students stop and go back to the safety of memorizing. But when they endure, they move to an area of high-returns on their studying, and zone of less-effort with greater returns. They have become more efficient learners. I am currently working on a depiction of this process. I’ll share it if you’re interested.
Defining the task — Coming from the metacognition research field, students’ ability to define their tasks is the MOST important phase of the stages of study sequence. However, research also shows that it is the most often skipped part as well. So consider that: the most important part of studying is the most often skipped part. No wonder many students are doomed for sub-par performance from the onset. I’ve experienced your scenario in both high school and college students. Student really believe that they are doing the right things because it is what was worked for them up to this point. When they struggle, as research affirms, they tend to either adopt a new tactic (e.g., switching from flashcards to note annotation) or apply more effort (staying harder) or energy (studying more vigorously). Neither of these are bad options, but they don’t redefine the task, nor do they change the essence of how students interact with content. They will likely exhaust their efforts. When this occurs, depending on their psychological make-up, they will either lash out at their instructors (it’s your fault) or at themselves (I’m not good at school).
Inadequate metrics — studying is a goal driven activity, which means that metrics are inherent in the process. Students tend to rely on the wrong metrics. This improper metrics cause them to pick up on the wrong things when reading. For example, I was working with a students who had made two D’s on assignments in a first year course entitled Music Through the Ages. As I probed her about how she defined her task, it was clear that she defined her task as to memorize all of the different people, dates, and types of music (similar to how many students wrongly approach a history course). I had her consult her tools (syllabus, class discussions, notes, etc.) to determine the outcomes required, and challenged her to redefine the task. Though the process she realized that she was being asked to analyze how events throughout various periods of history influence the music that was produced. This simple exercises helped her switched from recall reading to analytical reading. Her metrics changed. She not only made grades no lower than 92 on subsequent tasks, she enjoyed the course much more.
Lastly, I believe that there is a sequence to moving students to deep thinkers and learners. The first step in this sequence is helping the students to shift their approach to learning. If we provide students strategies out of sequence then they may not reap the purported benefits of the tactic. So sometimes our assistance is less effective because we skipped a step in the sequence.

Leonard Geddes Business Owner, The LearnWell Projects
Tel: 1-866-337-3030 <tel:>
[log in to unmask] | <>

 <> <> <>

On 3/3/16, 12:15 PM, "Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals on behalf of Dr. Renee Wright" <[log in to unmask] on behalf of [log in to unmask]> wrote:

I think this is a great discussion!

I want to share something I've learned this semester about motivation and student performance. My students read articles about mindset, deliberate practice, and motivation. We discuss the importance for the first 5 weeks of the semester. One of the articles they read is "Motivational Factors, Learning Strategies and Resource Management as Predictors of Course Grades" and they take the MSLQ survey<>. As we walked through the article, students commented about the difference in mindset between the freshman and senior students in the study. Great so far.

Evaluating students' prior grades and test scores at the beginning of the semester, I found some of the highest scores I've seen in years; high ACT (26 - 32), high placement test scores (90's on Compass reading and writing skills),etc. On the MSLQ survey, students appeared motivated and had a high expectancy of success. I was excited.

However, as the semester wore on, most students weren't completing the assignments, couldn't participate in the discussions because they had only skimmed the readings, etc. Most complained that the readings were too hard or too long, and they didn't have time to spend the 3 hours outside class to do the homework for the week. The longest reading was a chapter from the Dweck book that was 10 pages and written at an 8th-grade reading level. As I reviewed the survey scores in more detail, I found the disconnect. While students appeared very motivated, their scores on the self-effort subscale didn't correspond to their expectancy of success. Students rated the motivation and expectancy subscales high, but self-effort scores didn't indicate that they understood the impact effort would have on their grade.

In class, we talked about the disconnect and what that may mean towards their frustration that the readings were "too hard." The students didn't lack motivation; they lacked effort. They didn't want to read the material and "have to do something with it." They thought they were going to just write essays on a subject and they knew they were good at writing and that's what motivated them at the beginning. In my case, they weren't masking their inability to succeed or understand, they didn't want to put forth any effort. The idea that I expected many to put forth effort made some "uncomfortable."

I was pumped at the start of the semester because I thought I'd have a group of students excited about learning, and it's been the exact opposite. Ironically, the students that have persisted are the ones that scored at the cusp (18-20 ACT or 70 - 80 Compass). These students are engaged with the readings, the assignments, the discussions, etc.

My developmental students have a much better response to reading the same material. I use the survey a bit different, they take the survey as a pre/post and then we discuss how their understandings change as a result of the reading and written responses.

Renee Wright, PhD
English Faculty, E102D
708-456-0300 x 3237

From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Casazza, Martha <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, March 3, 2016 10:20 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Student Centered Success, Motivation & Self-Efficacy

Another concept that is closely related to metacognition and motivation is that of mindset. As Carol Dweck and others have shown through their research, when a student has a growth mindset vs a fixed mindset, they are much more likely to believe that their capabilities are malleable through effort and effective learning strategies. Those with a growth mindset embrace challenges as a way to learn and grow and tend to set learning goals rather than performance goals. We as staff and faculty have the capacity to impact the type of mindset a student develops primarily through our feedback. If we indicate a belief in students and through our actions share the responsibility of learning with them, we can facilitate the development of a growth mindset. Our feedback needs to address their efforts and progress rather than any innate ability or intelligence; we must focus on formative, meaningful feedback.

In our research on Student Voices, we asked students (selected for the study based on their having overcome significant challenges on their way to success) for their thoughts on mindset. One hundred percent of them agreed with Dweck's statement, "You can always substantially change how intelligent you are." One student actually had tattooed on herself advice from a faculty member who said, "When you're green, you're growing. When you're ripe, you rot." This is from a student who had dropped out of college twice but was now able to take charge of her learning with the help of supportive staff and faculty who believed in her. Another student told us, " have some students that are not doing well in class, but they know the name of every song out there. They're intelligent in that I disagree that intelligence is fixed." This qualitative study has provided us with much insight related to how students succeed.

Saundra has an excellent chapter on this in her new book which was a good resource for me as I recently prepared for a keynote on mindset at UNC. I have attached my ppt on mindset from the UNC presentation. Mindset is an evidence-based practice, and I have included a reference list that you might find helpful as you explore this concept. To date, much of the research has been based on younger populations. I believe we need to take a closer look at how it may have a powerful impact on our college students.

I also invite you to join our blog on creating meaningful access and success. You will find it on our website at

Martha Casazza, Ed.D.
[log in to unmask]

-----Original Message-----
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Leonard Geddes
Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2016 8:47 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Student Centered Success, Motivation & Self-Efficacy

Expounding a bit on Saundra’s excellent and accurate point regarding the link between metacognition and motivation:

The research — researchers have linked metacognition to locus of control (LOC), which is the degree to which students perceive they control their “academic” circumstances. Many students enter college with an external LOC, which means they tend to blame external factors such as the professor, the test questions, etc., for their lack of success. Metacognition, or students’ ability to regulate their learning directly impacts students locus of control. It has the capacity to shift students to an internal LOC, which is when they began to take more responsibility for their learning. (Additional note: Metacognition is also linked to self-efficacy, critical thinking, self-regulation, among other key markers of academic success.)

The reality — While serving as a Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC evaluator and QEP consultant) with two different schools who are implementing a metacognitive Quality Enhancement Plan, I’ve witnessed the construct shift faculty and students to an internal LOC. Throughout the trainings, the faculty realized that they were much more responsible for and capable of impacting students’ learning and performance. By adjusting their role in the teaching and learning equation, and incorporating metacognitive strategies in their instructional routine, students’ began to improve their metacognitive abilities. This produced a symbiotic relationship in which the students were able to go better marshal and manage their cognitive skills as they worked to meet the course outcomes.

Students began shifting their focus from “making grades” to learning the material; and as this shift occurred, the students’ grades improved. Funny how that works! This is another example of metacognition impacting motivation/LOC. As the students switched from focusing on grades (something they couldn’t immediately control) to managing and measuring their interactions with the academic content (something they can control) they were became empowered learners.

In research terms: operating from an internal locus of control enhanced their motivation, improved their self-efficacy and helped developed them as independent, self-directed learners. As they deepened their interaction with content, their capacity to mentally represent information, particularly at deep levels, improved. This significant enhancement of their mental representation skills enabled them to perform better in rigorous courses.

As Saundra is known for saying, “Metacognition is Key!” It is a threshold construct that triggers and aligns many critical learning components.

Leonard Geddes Business Owner, The LearnWell Projects
Tel: 1-866-337-3030 <tel:>
[log in to unmask] | <>

<> <> <>

On 3/2/16, 10:52 AM, "Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals on behalf of Saundra Y McGuire" <[log in to unmask] on behalf of [log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hello Listers,

I've been following with great interest the thread on motivation, and I want to second what Nic wrote. Many of our students are not "unmotivated" (they're very motivated to play video games, text their friends, hang out on Facebook, etc.), but they're just not motivated to do what we want them to do (take a study skills course or invest lots of time in their learning activities). Nic alludes to some of the reasons this might be the case. (I LOVE the term "motivated inaction"; I'd never heard this before.)

Now this is where Barbara's email becomes so important. I've found over the years that students (and tutors and faculty) respond extremely positively to information about metacognitive learning strategies. I've seen students who appeared to be VERY unmotivated to study become very motivated when they learn the specific metacognitive strategies that will lead to success. And no one gives a clearer message about this than Leonard Geddes. I too highly recommend his website ( Faculty like the information because it gives them a perspective they have not seen before, and students like it because it helps them understand how to regulate their own learn, with a high probability for success.

I've found that students don't respond well to "study skills", so we changed our language to call it learning strategies. Believe it or not, it made a difference in student interest. And if you tell them that you're going to teach them Metacognitive learning strategies" they really perk up. And I find it works extremely well with underprepared students because it gives them hope and a way forward. I also highly recommend Kathleen Gabriel's book on Teaching Unprepared Students.

So I would encourage all of us to consider changing our language -- what we teach is not just "study skills", it's a way of approaching learning that will lead to student success. Students, tutors and faculty find this approach refreshing and engaging, and it motivates them to change behavior.

Happy Hump Day!

Saundra McGuire, Ph.D.
Author, Teach Students How to Learn (Info at
(Ret) Assistant Vice Chancellor & Professor of Chemistry Director Emerita, Center for Academic Success Louisiana State University

-----Original Message-----
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Barbara Weisfeld
Sent: Wednesday, March 2, 2016 7:19 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Student Centered Success

Hello Colleagues:

I am happy to share a huge learning opportunity for students! Leonard Geddes from the Learnwell Projects, recently made his third trip to Canada to share his knowledge and experience of using metacognitive strategies in both the classroom and tutoring environments.
I first met Leonard at the 2013 CRLA Conference in Boston. In May, 2015, the Learning Specialist Association of Canada brought him as a keynote to our conference at the University of Guelph. In October 2015, Leonard returned to Toronto where both Humber College and Centennial College shared his time and expertise over three days. During that visit, Leonard presented to a small group of faculty and peer and professional tutors and then spent the afternoon training our tutors. Following that visit Leonard returned to Centennial College on February 16 on an invitation from the Dean and Chairs of the School of Advancement to address 150+ faculty, learning strategists, staff and tutors as they recognized the value this would bring to our English and Liberal Arts classroom experience.
The feedback received was overwhelmingly positive. Leonard engaged the room in discussion and provided insight from the student perspective while delivering immediate strategies that could be introduced in the classroom and tutoring setting.
Since the visit last week, I understand that some of our faculty have been in touch with Leonard to carry on the conversation, our Learning Strategists have reported successful use of the strategies with students and our tutors are excited about using the materials in their sessions.
Highly recommended!
Barbara Weisfeld

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