How can I get my students motivated to learn? This is a question that I have asked myself time and time again. When the opportunity arose through MAET to research something that interests us I sprang at the opportunity. My research 101 group looked at if student choice impacts motivation. Long story short, our findings hint that it does.
The question that we ended with was very different from the question that we started looking at. Through our conversations with Dr. Carey Roseth and our professors, we landed on looking at how having choice for students ages 16-20 (this is the age group we had access to this summer) impacts the amount of time that they would spend on an assignment. This seemed more measurable to us because students would be able to take their best guess at the amount of time that they spend compared to the “normal” amount of time that they spend.
From here we designed an experimental study (outline of our study here) via a survey. One group got a control survey where they were not given choice in an assignment and the other group got a survey where they were given choice on an assignment. We would then make an inference that the amount of time that students report spending compared to normal would relate to their motivation. Our findings were quite interesting to me.
Overwhelmingly, the responses pointed towards having choice in the type of assignment would cause students to want to spend more time completing the assignment. Not only did our findings align with the research we had done, but it was nice to see that what we were taught in our teacher education courses proves true! Allowing students to choose what type of assignment they complete to meet a standard (cautiously) motivates them more to engage in their learning.