Theory of distance student support

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This seminar looks at the theory we use to support distance students and ask whether we should look for a better theory to underpin our practice. It finishes by asking what is the biggest single barrier to student success - attitudes in the institutions themselves. 'Supporting students at a distance' - www.ormondsimpson.com

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Presentation Transcript

Slide 1: 

Theories of student support Ormond Simpson Visiting Fellow CDE

2 “Theory without practice is sterile; practice without theory is blind” (Friedrich Engels?) “There is nothing so practical as a good theory” (Kurt Lewin)

3 Current distance student support theory? Student support focuses on: Identifying weaknesses to be eradicated and advising students on how to overcome them Advising students on developing ‘learning skills’

1. Identifying weaknesses : 

4 1. Identifying weaknesses “Remediation may work in the short term but will disable students for higher achievement. The best that remediation can help anyone to become is mediocre” (Anderson, 2003) ‘Remedial study no help to students’ (‘Maths support at the LSE’. Report - THES 14/4/06)

2. Learning skills : 

5 5 2. Learning skills Good learner Good learning skills

Slide 6: 

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=jzTfxhrBV7U

2. Learning skills : 

7 7 2. Learning skills ‘Study skills training that does not consider motivation... may result in little skill improvement’ Morgan et al BJET, (1982) Students getting self-efficacy and stress management training higher retention than students getting learning skills training Research in Higher Education, (1999, US) ‘Basic psychological needs, eg need for belonging and self-worth, must be met before learning can take place’ Studies in Learning Evaluation, Innovation and Development, (2005 Australia) Survey of 13 different ‘learning styles inventories’ - no impact on learning and teaching; International Journal of Lifelong Education (2005) There may be no clear fixed set of learning skills appropriate to all circumstances and all learners, and that the important thing to do is to help learners experiment and develop study methods that work for them. (Gibbs 1981 - paraphrased)

Importance of learning motivation : 

8 Importance of learning motivation “The best predictor of student retention is motivation. Retention services need to clarify and build on motivation and address motivation-reducing issues. “Most students dropout because of reduced motivation” (Anderson, 2003)

Learning motivation : 

9 Learning motivation What motivates students to learn? Can we help them enhance their motivation?

Slide 10: 

10 Four types of motivation (Self-Concordance Model; Sheldon, 2001) External ( driven by outside forces) Introjected ( based on self-control, acting in order to avoid guilt and anxiety) Identified ( based on full subscription to the values underlying the behaviour) Intrinsic (driven by curiosity and pleasure) Ryan and Connnell (1989)

Learning motivation theories 1 : 

Learning motivation theories 1 ‘Self-determination Theory’ ‘Achievement Goal theory’ ‘Self-efficacy theory ‘Interest Development Model’ ‘Expectancy value theory’ ‘Epistemological Identity’ theory ‘Self-Concordance Model’ ‘Belief in a Just World’ Theory

Slide 12: 

12 Learning motivation theories 2 Keller’s ARCS Theory Self Theory’ (Dweck, 1999) ‘Self Affirmation’ (Social Identity) theory (Cohen, Garcia et al, 2001) Positive Psychology (Seligman, 1999)

Keller’s ARCS Theory : 

Keller’s ARCS Theory Get learner’s Attention Ensure its Relevance to what they need And that it enhances their Confidence As well as their Satisfaction - ‘Motivational messaging’ – Visser (1998)

Slide 14: 

14 ‘Self Theories’ (Carol Dweck, 1999) Q1. You have a fixed amount of intelligence and can’t do much to change it. - Yes/No Q2. Success = X% intelligence + Y% effort - Give values for X and Y

Theories of intelligence : 

16 16 Theories of intelligence Q1. You have a certain amount of intelligence and can’t do much to change it. - Yes/No Q2. Success = X% intelligence + Y% effort Give values for X and Y If Yes to 1 and X > Y you are an ‘entity’ theorist If No to 1 and X < Y you are an ‘incremental’ theorist.

Theories of intelligence : 

17 17 Theories of intelligence ‘Entity’ theorists believe that their intelligence is fixed and cannot be altered through effort. ‘Incremental’ theorists’ believe that intelligence is malleable and can be changed through effort . Entity theorists will study but give up easily when they encounter difficulties or failure. Incremental theorists will keep trying despite initial difficulties or failure.

Slide 18: 

Entity and incrementalist theorists The higher the score the higher the belief in an ‘entity theory’ of intelligence

Theories of intelligence : 

19 19 Theories of intelligence Dweck’ (‘Child Development ‘ 2007) Two groups of disadvantaged adolescent students, one taught about how the brain works, one taught that their intelligence was malleable. Second group showed significant increases in grades and study motivation over first group, maintained for at least two years. “..the effects are far beyond what you might expect from the simplicity of the interventions” - Dweck

Slide 20: 

20 20 “People often overestimate the important of intellectual ability. Practice and perseverance contribute more to accomplishment than being smart”. - Hoppe and Stojanovic (2008)

‘Self-Affirmation theory’Cohen, Garcia et al (2006) : 

21 21 ‘Self-Affirmation theory’Cohen, Garcia et al (2006) Aim is to strengthen student’s social identities through undertaking simple ‘self-affirmation’ exercises, writing about their values A group of Afro-American students reduced the achievement gap between themselves and a group of European American students by about 40% points. “The technique is like flicking a light switch, releasing the motivation and abilities that students had all along” - Garcia

Slide 22: 

22 The ‘Positive Psychology’ Model “Positive Psychology… is the scientific study of optimal human functioning [that] aims to discover and promote the factors that allow individuals …to thrive. “[It is the] psychology of happiness, flow, and personal strengths.” (Seligman, 1999).

Slide 23: 

23 The ‘Strengths Approach’ to student support an nine point plan to strengthen ‘social identity’ Emphasise the positive during initial contact Focus on existing assets & competencies Draw out past successes and high point moments Encourage ‘positive affect’ (hope and elevated thoughts) Identify underlying values, goals & motivation Encourage narration (life story, putting life in perspective, making sense of it) Identify resources, protective factors & potentials of students Validate effort rather than achievement ONLY THEN, if possible, talk about uncertainties, fears, lack of skills (Boniwell, 2003)

Proactive Contact : 

24 Proactive Contact ‘Student self-referral does not work as a mode of promoting persistence. Students who need services the most refer themselves the least. “Effective retention services take the initiative in outreach and timely interventions with those students.’ (Anderson, US)

Slide 25: 

25 25 A new theory of student support? Individual Proactive Motivational ‘Proactive Motivational Support’ (PaMS)

Proactive Motivational Support in OU – results of pre-course contact : 

26 Proactive Motivational Support in OU – results of pre-course contact

Proactive Motivational Support in OU – ‘’Starting with Maths’. : 

27 Proactive Motivational Support in OU – ‘’Starting with Maths’.

Slide 28: 

More research needed

Slide 29: 

Can we switch motivation on?

Slide 30: 

3. What’s the biggest barrier to increasing retention?

Tutors’ attitudes to students : 

Tutors’ attitudes to students “We’re here to weed out the unfit” - the ‘Darwinista’ approach “Students are doomed to pass or fail and there’s not much we can do about it” - the ‘Fatalista’ approach Both ‘Entity Theorists’? “We should help students be as successful as they can be” - the Retentioneer’s approach Incremental theorists?

Barriers to retention : 

33 Barriers to retention “The biggest barrier to student retention are attitudes in the institution itself” Veronique Johnston, 2003 - Napier University

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