November 2004


Motivation involves the processes that energize, direct and sustain behavior–the Holy Grail of learner-centered instruction. Theories on motivation:

  • Behavioral–incentives (positive stimuli like praise or treats), problem of extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation
  • Humanistic–Maslow’s hierarchy (must get certain needs met before others–physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, self-actualization (hard to reach)). not necessarily in that order.
  • Cognitive–major perspective holding sway now. Involves thinking, intrinsic motivation, beliefs and beliefs about causes of sucess or failure. Goal setting, planning and monitoring progress are important here. [self-efficacy and White’s competence motivation–mirrors Piaget’s belief that people naturally want to understand and deal effectively with the world aruond them]
  • Social–need for affiliation or relatedness major motivaotr in this perspective so caring and supportive interpersonal relationships make positive impact on academic achievement

Reading: Chall’s developmental stages of reading (stages 0-5); basic-skills-& phonetics approach or whole language approach to reading (some combo of the 2 where kids can blend sounds and segment syllables and recoginze letters but also get whole language instruction works); the more reading you do the better; importance of decoding and comprehending words, constructing meaning from prior knowledge, and developing expert reading strategies. All this emphasizes cognitive constructivism (metacognition, children’s internal construction of meaning). Social constructivist approaches (reciprocal teaching, book clubs, involving family in literacy efforts, esp. low-English proficiency families)

Library application: more for school and public librarians as well as those engaged in literacy efforts, esp. the social constructivist methods–library book clubs, story hours, and family involvement in literacy programs; also the idea that more knowledge students have as background the better their reading comprehension will be (research!)

Writing: developmentally, kids gain enough motor control to form letters, learn to distinguish different letters, and go through “creative” spelling attempts; cognitively, they must plan (pre-write), problem solve (how to make meaning, what am i saying), revise (what worked, what didn’t, how to say it better), and use metacognition to learn writing strategies (planning and organizational strategies necessary to be a good writer); social constructuvist methods of writing instruction: writing on meaningful topics, student-teacher writing conferences, peer collaboration, involving community and family in writing projects (differences in knowledge transmission and writing in Latino communities students came from and the school environment–interviews, incorporation of communit writing and knowledge in class projects, e-mail contact with Latino students in other communities). Ways to encourage writing–nurturing positive attitudes, giving authentic writing tasks, providing supportive context, have students write to learn, do free and creative writing assignments, as well as formal writing assignments.

Library application: lots of info lit applications–make writing assignments with info lit directly applicable to students’ lives, that chart of the writing timeline and the skills involved (pre-writing aka researching, problem solving (organizing that information agthered, evaluating, framing it) and revising (reference checking as well)) .

Math: developmental changes: pre-K-2: basic counting, simple addition and subtraction, relative magnitude of numbers, base 10 basics; then 3-5: multiplicative reasoning (fractions as part of a whole and as division), equivalence (diff. mathmatical representation (n=) as basis for algebra), computational fluency (thinking of things different ways, which still eludes me); then 6-8: algebra and geometry; then 9-12: algebra, & geometry continued and combined with stats, probability and discrete math, and visualization, description and analysis of maths ituations and proving math ideas. Fight between computational approach and constructivist. Constructivist approach–make it realistic and interesting, consider student’s prior knowledge, encourage social interaction, do innovative projects, and involve family in “family math night” (oh, joy). Give students good grounding in operations before introducing too much tech that does I for them (calcs and computers).

Library applications: not so much

Science: Blah blah blah critical thinking-cakes. OK, so kids and scientists think alike (natural curiosity, fundamental ?s, time to devote to them) but not (kids too attached to their own theories even in face of conflicting evidence); constructivist principles for teachign science–scaffolding through interactive demos (kids get situation, make predictions and then teacher demos); everday science problems, social constructivist collab, interdisciplinary coursework; worry that kids are not learning to make careful observations; collect organize and analyze data; measure graph and understand spatial relationships, pay attention to and regulate their own thinking, or know when

Social studies: teaching across a number of areas and disciplines; still largely lecture-based but constructicvist approaches encourage reflection, understanding, meaning, thinking critically about values, and sustained exmination of a few topics rather than superficial coverage of many topics

According to James Rest, dilemma discusiion should facilitate the first 3 of the 4 following abilities:

  • Identification of and sensitivity to moral issues
  • Identification of possible alternatives
  • Selection of alternatives
  • Implementation (successful) of the selected alternative

Participants get experience in role-playing different viewpoints, in engaging in dialogue about those differences, and in hearing the opinions/views of others at a higher stage (whether it be the teacher or their peers) which pushes them to another level. Because they are tlaking small groups, everyone gets to participate, there are likely to be differing but equally valid views and the Piagetian process of disequilibration can take place. in resolving it, students move to a higher level of moral reasoning. Classical or hypothetical dilemmas allow two goods to be opposed against one anohter. They are less personal and constrained by practical or normative concerns. Real life dilemmas may nto have two opposing goods and may involve only one moral issue and more uncertainty as to the “ideal” solution. They are also more constrained by practical concerns.

Dilemma discussions are limited by the fact that they only *talk* about moral conflicts but don’t show actions. Nor can they include all possible facets or provide clear-cut anaswers. Classical or hypothetical situations don’t address the real-life problems and consequences or their broader impact on society and the person’s environment. But they can serve as a good starting point in a larger program (like the Just Community). Dilemma discussions have been used as Kohlberg and Batt used them, as part of Personality Development using experiential activities adn self-reflection and as part of academic courses. Apparently the last method was the least effective without some more discussion or interactivity, thought just teaching Kohlberg’s theory helped some.

Dilemma discussions can be used professional education–such as in case studies and medical education. The kind of metacognitive reflection encouraged by dilemma discussions encourages the growth of people as autonomous, self-regulated and reflective practitioners and human beings. At the end of these ethical programs, people should be able to:

  • apply the guiding ethics of their profession (ALA Bill of Rights, for ex.)
  • recognize interpret and act upon moral issues
  • understand how their actions relate to the profession as a whole and their individual customers
  • develop into reflective professionals

OK, So what I’m getting so far out of Schrader’s Kohlberg article is:

Three trains of thought on moral development

  • Romantic–Rousseau, Freud, Neill, etc. kid has natural good particularly (and bad) that should be allowed to come out unsuppressed or distorted;
  • Cultural Transmission–kid should be taught societal values in a pretty authoritarian manner; and
  • Progressive (what Deb called Social Constructivist in class), in which kid learns to make their own moral judgments

To understand development of Progressive train of thought, she uses Kohlberg’s 6 stages of moral development as framework. Three parts of moral reasoning–judgment about what’s right, reason for doing right and justification of importance of reasons (not sure exactly what difference is between reason and justification). Judgment means moral judgment based on social reasoning and “prescriptive or normative judgment about people’s rights, obligations and responsibilities ” NOT Piagetian cognitive development and reasoning.

According to Kohlberg, person will pass through all stages given opportunities for social interaction and “requisite cognitive development.” Kohlberg’s student Blatt proved that people would move to the next stage of moral development if given opportunities to talk to peers at that next stage (Vygotsky and scaffolding and social constructivist theories of learning) and asked to talk about their reasoning. In effective dilemma discussions, people talk about why they think a course of action is morally right and are encouraged to focus primarily on their reasoning (so, metacognition and process-focus rather than outcome-focus). more to come. . .

Quick notes on the following:

Oser: Use of Just community model in German schools. Interesting to note that Oser thinks big difference between American and British implementation and German was AM/Br emphasis on framework of practice and German emphasis on teacher’s commitment to democratic education and reform. Also that the fairly rigidly structured schools in Germany had to be convinced to try reform and that only quick results/proof that children could self-govern prevented more regulation while in American schools everybody agree son need for reform but is just unwilling or undecided on how to do it. Oser was big on idea that you should begin with Kohlberg’s later synthesis and practical applications rather than the beginning theories.

Duckworth–story illustrated modleling of behavior, use of actual dialogue about real-life situation and good explication of a teaching situation. Her final point about not taking a researcher’s theory, applying it willy-nilly and then validating the results by that theory rather than formative research was a very good point as was her (and Kohlberg’s caution) about the aims of ed psych researcher’s and practitioner/teachers in the field being different sometimes

I need someplace to store all my thinking on my EDUC 611 class: Educational Psychology as well as all the listservs and blogs I’m reading. Maybe I can maye some sense out of ed. psych., learning theories, social constructivist methods of teaching, active and collaborative learning techniques for library instruction, information literacy/fluency instruction, instructional design and technology, etc. etc. Wish me luck!