Developing Positive Values
Helping students develop positive values about school learning is important to build their interest in the learning, steer them toward taking additional courses, and (indirectly) for building their expectancies for success.
Offer rationales for schoolwork that include discussion of the importance and utility value of the work.
In addition to providing instruction teachers can convey messages to students about the value of the learning. For example, Ms. Brennan, a seventh-grade science teacher, discusses with her class how important science is, not just for learning in school and for understanding life outside school but also for keeping certain career options open. She points out how engineers and medical doctors need to take a great many science courses in both high school and college. This information links the science course and content to utility for certain types of careers.
Model value and interest in the content of the lesson or unit.
Teachers can model cognitive aspects of a task, as well as motivational aspects of both value and interest. Mrs. Green is teaching a high school English course and the unit she is focusing on includes Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Throughout the unit, she talks about her own interest in the play and how it makes her feel and think about different issues. She also tries to relate how the themes of the play make her think about issues in present-day life in terms of relations with others, such as parent and child relations, ambitious people, etc., and how the play can help her think about different ways of handling these issues.
Activate personal interest through opportunities for choice and control.
Interest in learning can be developed when teachers provide opportunities for students to exercise some choice and control over their learning. Ms. Wong has collected a large number of reading books and stories for her fourth-grade classroom. These books and stories range from first grade to middle school reading level (range of difficulty levels) and cover many different topics. She allows her students to choose their own reading books based on their interest in the topics and their perception of the difficulty level of the books. She finds that most students are fairly good at picking out books that match their level of reading competence. Moreover, she gives more assistance to learners who choose books that are hard and encourages students to try more difficult books if they seem to always choose books that are too easy.
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