Topic 8: Academic and Social Challenges {by 11/7}

There is one reading due this week – Stipek (1997) – Success in School.  Address the following discussion points:  (1) What are your thoughts about motivation and competitively based standards (please base your response on the context of the reading – i.e., not just your opinion)?  (2) Discuss the topic of low-achieving students and how teachers’ behaviors (and thoughts) in the classroom can be self-fulfilling.  Your original post should be posted by the beginning of class 11/7.  Have your two replies no later than 11/9.  *Please remember to click the “reply” button when posting a reply.  This makes it easier for the reader to follow the blog postings.

32 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Julianna Aguilar
    Nov 04, 2013 @ 15:02:13

    According to Stipek (1997), motivation is the critical foundation of learning. Specifically, those who are motivated are defined as “individuals who are willingly engaged in the learning process, self-confident in their ability to learn and to complete school tasks, persistent in the face of difficulty, oriented toward developing understanding and mastering skills, enthusiastic and optimistic about learning, and proud of accomplishments (Stipek, 1997, p. 77). With competitive-based learning (i.e., performing better than one’s classmates), nearly all students (i.e., high and low achieving) end up losing motivation to perform well in school. High achieving students become bored, complacent, lazy, and have trouble coping with adversity, among other issues. Low achieving students, those who do not achieve as highly as their classmates, thus fail by association even if they perform well. Therefore, they are not rewarded for their efforts and their adaptive behavior decreases. This decrease in behavior can lead to school failure and perpetuate a cycle of diminishing effort and achievement. Instead of this model driven by competition, then, the author presents an alternative model of achievement based on individual and mastery criteria in which “success is defined as personal improvement or meeting a predetermined standard” (Stipek, 1997, p. 78). Research shows that unlike children in competitive learning environments who emphasize their abilities, children in the personal mastery learning environments emphasize their effort. Therefore, those in the personal mastery mindset define success versus failure by their personal progress made toward a specific, pre-set goal, and those in the competitive mindset define success versus failure by whether they have won or lost. However, though mastery learning tends to show more positive outcomes for students, Stipek (1997) argues that competition can still be used to motivate students if every student has a chance of winning (e.g., grouping students to complete tasks catered to the students’ specific ability level). Still, there is question about whether this scenario is true competition, as well as the possibility of embarrassment caused to students who are divided into groups with less challenging tasks, for example. Overall, it seems that motivation within the mastery learning framework, instead of the competitive model, provides students the best opportunity for achievement and personal growth.

    The issue of low-achieving students and teachers thoughts and behaviors towards them begins in early education. In fact, one study found that children as young as the first grade noticed differences in the treatment of high versus low achieving students (Stipek, 1997). More specifically, research shows that teachers behavior toward lower achieving students includes smiling less often, being less friendly, giving them less challenging and less varied assignments, calling on them in class less often, giving them less time to respond, and providing less follow up, among other overt and subtle behaviors. These teacher behaviors interact with the students’ behaviors to create a cycle that becomes self-fulfilling for both parties. For example, a teacher may call on a low achieving female student and give her very little time to respond. Since the student does not have enough time to answer the questions, the teacher assumes that she does not know it. Therefore, the teacher’s suspicion is erroneously confirmed that the student is not as smart as the highly achieving students. Additionally, the teacher is even less likely to call on that student in the future due to this interaction, therefore giving the student fewer opportunities to display her knowledge of the subject which is likely to decrease her self-confidence and academic performance. This example highlights the cycle of maladaptive thoughts and behaviors beginning with the teacher that tends to become self-fulfilling for both the teacher and the student.

    Reply

    • Amanda Thomas
      Nov 06, 2013 @ 15:16:00

      Julianna

      I like that you mentioned that the author devised a new method based on personal achievement verus competition within the class. This method maximizes the students individual potential for learning and motivates them to out petform themselves as opposed to other class mates. I think that this methd inspires students to challenge themselves personally, rather than feeling defeated by their peers. It also places the responsibility on themselves in that they have the power to suceed and not feel like the need to compare themselves to someone else. Overall, its more realistic on an individual account.

      Reply

    • melissa r
      Nov 08, 2013 @ 12:43:19

      I really liked your comments about how even children with high grades struggle with motivation in school. Such things as not feeling challenged academically or feeling bored could cause the child’s grades to drop below what the child is capable of.
      I also liked your comment about how performance and academic success is seen on different personal standards from one child to another. For example one child may be happy with earning a C while another might not. The Childs personal perceptions are important to recognize.

      Reply

  2. Kirsten Chirichetti
    Nov 04, 2013 @ 22:17:35

    A major societal problem is school failure and its connection to poor social and mental health outcomes in children. Children do not begin school feeling or acting like failures, instead repeated academic failures produce debilitating effects on the behavior of children, leading to alienation, poor peer relationships, conduct problems, and emotional withdrawal (Stipek, 1997). One factor that influences a child’s success in school and is critical for learning to occur is his or her motivation. Motivation involves a variety of components including overt behaviors (i.e., approach and persistence), cognitions (i.e., beliefs, expectations, goals), emotions, the nature of the strategies individuals use to complete tasks, and what they think about while accomplishing a task. According to Stipek (1997), motivated learners are individuals who are willingly engaged in the learning process, confident in their ability to learn and to complete school tasks, persistent in the face of difficulty, oriented toward developing understanding and mastering skills, are enthusiastic and optimistic about learning, and proud of their accomplishments. Since motivation involves several interrelated variables, it is critical that instructional strategies aimed at improving children’s motivation to learn targets these various aspects of motivation. Many researchers have proposed that an important intervention teachers can utilize to increase children’s motivation in school is to make success accessible to them (Stipek, 1997). In particular, one way that success is made accessible to children is by lowering academic standards. However, lowering academic standards has no value for children, leading teachers to accept the minimum standards as their goals and base for instruction and not asking their students to go beyond the low standard despite their capacity to do so (Stipek, 1997). Moreover, children take little pride in achieving the success of low standards and know that they could have reached higher standards. For this reason, researchers have suggested that teachers must change how “success” is defined in the classroom in order to eliminate negative motivational outcomes. Instead of creating a learning environment with competitive-based standards (i.e., displaying the best work on the bulletin board, grading on a curve-based scale) that makes some students feel like failures if they do not achieve the same grades as their peers, researchers propose that teachers should define student success in a way that makes it accessible to all children if they work hard (Stipek, 1997). For instance, instead of defining success as performing better than classmates, teachers can use individual or mastery criteria, in which success is defined as personal improvement or meeting pre-determined standards. Research has shown that teachers whom implement an individual or mastery criteria as a definition of success in the classroom have students who perceive the grading system to be fairer and more responsive to their efforts, aspire to attain higher grades, are more self-confident about being able to achieve a high grade, and focus more on their personal history/improvements with the task as opposed to wining or losing (Stipek, 1997). Nonetheless, competitive standards should not be completely eliminated from the classroom, since in some situations they can be beneficial and motivate students. Thus, instead, competitive standards must simply be adjusted or designed so that every child has some chance of wining (i.e., giving spelling words in a spelling bee that are appropriate for each student’s level of proficiency). Overall, evidence has found that effort, progress, and mastery are more productive criteria for student school success than competition, giving children a realistic chance of experiencing success if they try (Stipek, 1997).

    According to Stipek (1997), success in most American schools is impossible for all children, regardless of their effort or what standards of performance they achieve. As noted above, only a portion of children are able to get higher grades or their academic work displayed on the bulletin board, leaving other children to have to fail. These low-achieving students often have poor support for learning at home, are not proficient in English, or learn slowly. In addition, many low-achieving students are eager to learn, willing to work, and are achieving very well, relative to their capacities and other factors limiting the pace at which they can master the curriculum (Stipek, 1997). Nonetheless, these students still struggle because they are lower achievers than their classmates, making success completely beyond their reach. Thus, when low-achieving children are not rewarded for their academic efforts, their behavior/effort ceases, in turn leading to limited academic progress, creating a vicious cycle. One factor that influences the success of students is the behavior and thoughts of teachers. Teachers can create a climate and environment in the classroom that encourages or limits learning. Some teachers expect little of their students, developing curriculums that are prescribed by textbooks and giving children an endless supply of repetitive, drill worksheets. These teachers make judgments about their students (many of which come from disadvantaged backgrounds) that they will inevitably be academic failures (Stipek, 1997). On the other hand, there are also teachers who expect every child to master the curriculum, encouraging effort and persistence and modifying tasks / trying different teaching strategies for those children who are trying the academic work but are still struggling. In this way, these teachers create a learning environment in which no child is allowed to fail. Research has shown that teachers’ expectations affect student outcomes, specifically low achieve students and students for whom the teacher had low expectations, on average experienced a more negative social-emotional climate often conveyed in subtle ways such as facial expressions, tone of voice, etc. (Babad, Bernieri, & Rosenthal, 1991, as cited in Stipek, 1997). In particular, teachers have been found to smile less often at low-expectancy students, be less friendly, give less challenging and less varied assignments, call on them less often, and give them less time to respond to and follow-up questions. Moreover, many children are aware that their teachers give different treatment to high and low performing students. Specifically, students claim their teachers give special privileges, provide more autonomy, give more opportunities to take classroom responsibility, interact more informally, and trust higher-achieving students than lower-achieving students (Stipek, 1997). For this reason, it is critical that teachers are cautious about the judgments they make regarding their students, ensuring that they are based on knowledge about the child’s specific skills, understanding, and learning styles, instead of global judgments about the child’s capacity to learn or stereotypes (i.e., race, gender, social economic status, etc.). In addition, teachers should strive to expect all of their students to master the curriculum. Teachers who continue to expect each and every student in a class to succeed will, on average, be more successful in achieving that goal than teachers who make judgments that some or all of their students are too difficult or impossible to teach (Stipek, 1997). In order to achieve this goal, teachers must convey to their students both explicitly and implicitly that they expect them to learn and master the curriculum. They must also provide their students with opportunities for instruction that is challenging, personally meaningful, and requires critical thinking. By engaging in these behaviors and thoughts, teachers can promote their students’ academic success and achievement in the classroom.

    Reply

    • Amanda Thomas
      Nov 06, 2013 @ 15:23:56

      Kirsten

      You stated that teachers are often responsible for the maintenance of low achieving students. I agree that teachers have a tremendous impact on their students learning simply based on the way they interact with their students. Teachers cannot have the same expectation for all students. Students must be held accountable for achieving what they are capable of. They need to be praised according to their individlzed successes. This means making accommodations for low achieving students and allowing them equal access to the material being covered, it a fashion that is accessible to that student.

      Reply

    • Kristina Glaude
      Nov 06, 2013 @ 20:25:23

      Kristen
      I like you thought that the information about how teachers interaction with low achieving students was interesting. I would have thought that teachers would have worked harder to engage and develop the lower achieving students within their classrooms. I also think that children are very perceptive and aware of what is occurring around them in the classroom. They will note that their peers are getting different treatment then them within the same class.

      Reply

  3. Paige Hartmann
    Nov 06, 2013 @ 17:06:30

    According to Stipek (1997), the majority of children (including those who are disadvantaged) do not begin school feeling as though they are failures, but rather begin school with much enthusiasm and interest. However, by the third grade, low-achieving children begin to exhibit emotional problems and maladaptive behaviors (Stipek, 1997). As children begin to feel like failures in school, their level of motivation suffers which is one of the key components for successful learning. When competitively-based standards of success are involved, this can have a large impact on the motivation of both low- and high-achieving students. Stipek (1997) states that children place an emphasis on ability when interpreting individual success through a competitive context versus an emphasis on effort in situations in which success is determined by group performance, personal improvement, or meeting a pre-established standard. However, competition should not be banned from the classroom altogether, as a healthy level of competition drives success. Instead, Stipek (1997) suggests that competition should be used in a manner in which every child has a chance of winning. Interestingly, research has shown that criteria such as effort, progress, and mastery are more beneficial for success than competition since all children have a realistic chance of success if they try.

    Research has shown that teachers’ behaviors and expectations have a great impact on the overall success of their students. Stipek (1997) discusses a situation in which a teacher had a group of students who were pre-natally exposed to drugs from violent neighborhoods within dysfunctional families. This teacher had a very low expectation from their students, which resulted in the teacher teaching them very little. Some of the students may have been successful, but overall the majority of the class would have accepted her stereotypical judgment that they would inevitably be academic failures due to their circumstance. Furthermore, Weinstein and colleagues have conducted studies which demonstrate that students (as young as first grade) are aware of the difference in treatment that both high and low achieving students receive from their teachers. For instance, students from such studies found that teachers treated higher-achieving students with special privileges, more autonomy, more classroom responsibilities, interacted more informally, and trusted them more in comparison to the lower-achieving students. Stipek (1997) explains that these type of problems result from teachers making global judgments about a child’s learning capacity, or inaccurate judgments based on stereotypes.

    Reply

    • Kristina Glaude
      Nov 06, 2013 @ 20:31:48

      Paige
      I liked how you mentioned about healthy compaction within the classroom. I think that if this is used well that it can help to develop student’s motivation with classwork. The compaction can be used to help put every child within the opportunity to win. This may mean that information or methods used to test information has to be adjusted for specific student levels.

      Reply

    • Stacie Z.
      Nov 07, 2013 @ 08:30:03

      I also agree with the idea that healthy competition in the classroom has some advantages. As I read the article and your response, I was thinking about how it also can be applied to other group situations children are involved in. A healthy level of competition not only engenders a sense of motivation, but also ownership and responsibility in those accomplishments. I think this is reflected in Stipek’s article where she points out how children recognize when teachers have set minimum standards and that they will not be asked to go beyond this lower standard, regardless of what their true capability might be. Thus, “they take little pride in achieving the success the low standard allows” (p. 77).

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    • melissa r
      Nov 08, 2013 @ 12:50:53

      Paige, I liked your comment about how school performance correlates with emotional and behavioral wellness. The third grade is very young for children to begin developing emotional or behavioral problems due to low-achievement. Early intervention is imperative for these kids. Interesting point of how the likelihood of emotional/behavorial problems increases as the achievement abilities lessened ( Additional stress factors ).

      Reply

  4. Kristina Glaude
    Nov 06, 2013 @ 20:21:07

    1) In order for learning to occur the student needs to have motivation. This motivation suffers when the child experiences failure within school. (Stipek 1997). Children do not start off going to school wanting or expecting to fail. However, over time when students are struggling and do not receive adjustments they tend to struggle. The reading defines “motivated learners in this chapter as individuals who are willingly engaged in the learning process, self-confident in their ability to learn and to complete school tasks, persistent in the face of difficulty, oriented toward developing understanding and mastering skills, enthusiastic and optimistic about learning, and proud of accomplishments (Stipek, 1997, p.77)”. It is ideal in every classroom to have all the students to be motivated learners at all times this does not occur. Students want the student to learn, and grow. However, at times there will be obstacles that are faced and students will struggle with motivation. Children need to have time and opportunities to show to others that they have abilities. The student will learn from these experiences what they can achieve. Within the classroom students need to continue to learn new information in order to continue to be motivated. Stipek notes that there is a relationship between students and teachers and students among themselves that affect motivation. Students need to feel a sense of autonomy, competence and relatedness (Stipek 1997 p 87). These feelings allow for the children to develop relationships with others influencing their motivation. Overall with both experiences interacting with others and activities learned within the classroom students will continue to develop and motivate themselves to learn new information.
    2) According to the article most children start off with going to school full of awareness and eagerness. Somewhere between first entering school and third grade children start to change. The children start to have poor interaction with other peers and behavior problems start to become evident. When observing these changes some would say that it is the standards that schools have that create problems for children. However, every child will seek out success if it is within their reach. Not only do children play a critical role within learning teachers also are a key part. “When standards are low the “floor” often becomes the “ceiling”. Teachers accept the minimum standards as their goal and plan curriculum and instruction accordingly; children are never asked to go beyond the low standard despite their capacity to do so” (Stipek, 1997, p. 77). Adjusting the minimum standards does not solve the problem that is occurring. Teachers are given a curriculum and teach it accordingly. Although when they are teaching if the lesson and activities are not adjusted to skill levels of the students in the classroom it does not allow for students to grow. Low expectancy students are thought that teachers are less friendly but more importantly give less diverse assignments, are called on less to participate in class and less follow up to class work (Stipek 1997). Teachers should want to work with every child in order to mold and develop them in order to have progress within their classroom. Teachers need to look at each class that they have and each student as individuals. When teachers make global judgments about their students as a whole this can develop difficulties within the classroom. Each teacher needs to observe and assess their classroom on a daily basis for changes and progression within each student and change their teaching methods along with their classroom curriculum accordingly.

    Reply

    • Julianna Aguilar
      Nov 07, 2013 @ 11:08:16

      Kristina, I definitely agree with the teacher’s need to be constantly reassessing the classroom and the students as individuals. There are a lot of improvements that some teachers can make to their own teaching style, but I think there are several issues that have to be addressed as well that are out of the teachers’ hands. With older students, for example, “teaching to the test” has become a popular phrase since the implementation of state-wide exams that must be passed in order for students to graduate high school. Because of the pressure that teachers feel to make sure they squeeze all of this information into their curriculum before the test is administered, it is very hard for them to cater to the pace and skill level of each student. Overall, in order to best help each individual student, it seems that a lot of work needs to be done on the part of teachers, administrators, and larger education reforms.

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  5. Emily B
    Nov 07, 2013 @ 06:34:40

    Effort, progress, and progress are more productive than competition. This allows children to focus on their own standards and achievements. Focusing on effort and individualized standards will eliminate or put less pressure on being the “winner” or “loser” in the classroom. By setting individual standards students can also be more challenged in their work instead of performing at the bare minimum. That means that students who might be able to complete more advanced problems will be able to challenge themselves to complete those tasks and students who struggle with concepts can focus on understanding the concept being taught to them. Creating competition in a way in which every student has the chance to win. Also, motivation of the students may be present but teachers may also come into the classroom with knowledge of their students’ challenges and have decrease motivation to teach and challenge these students.

    Teachers may set up low-achieving students for failure. Studies show that teachers’ expectations are associated with social-emotional climate they provide to their students, and their instructional program. Studies also show that low-achieving students also receive less positive non-verbal expressions from their teachers. For example, teachers are less likely to smile, make non-school related conversation, and are generally less friendly to their low achieving students. Teachers expectations can definitely effects the way that children view school and whether they feel comfortable participating in school.

    Reply

    • Angela Vizzo
      Nov 09, 2013 @ 17:13:51

      Emily, I really like your discussion of how individual standards can be better for students rather than competitive standards. You bring up a lot of really important points, such as how individual standards can help students become involved in more advanced programs.

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    • Anthony Rofino
      Nov 09, 2013 @ 17:18:05

      Emily, I like your mentioning of the various ways that teachers can propagate the self-fulfilling prophecy that comes from low achievement. I think it is important to not only teacher,s but for every person to know that their little gestures and behaviors can impact the world around them. Self-fulfilling prophecies do not only apply to students and teaching, but many aspects, and it is important to try and treat everyone the same, despite lack of abilities or other lacking qualities.

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  6. Stacie Z.
    Nov 07, 2013 @ 08:04:42

    The distinction between learning goals and performance goals described in Stipek (1997) relates to how shifting away from universal competitive-based standards can result in success for a greater majority of students in the classroom. It is important to note that the author is not suggesting students should not be held accountable for their performance. Stipek (1997) emphasizes this point with the idea that “To foster success in all children teachers need to convey to children, explicitly ad implicitly, that they are expected to learn and master the curriculum… The specific skill taught or tasks given may vary, but the principles of good instruction apply to all children” (p. 81). Motivation is impacted by the sole application of competitive-based standards for both slow and fast learners. Slower learners who are not given the opportunity to develop and master competencies at an appropriate pace, as well as fast learners who can become bored with the material, would both benefit from a revised definition of success. This is because in the current environment of a single benchmark for “success,” those students considered “low-achievers” are inhibited from being successful, even if they are initially motivated and interested in learning, while “high-achievers” can be deterred from seeking out challenging learning opportunities when they are able to meet the competitively based standards with minimal effort.

    Teacher expectations have been demonstrated to significantly affect student outcomes in the classroom. The treatment of lower achieving students by teachers is often marked by low expectations and less frequent positive social interaction, ultimately affecting how children view themselves. Additionally, approaches that teachers engage in, that on the surface would seem to reassure and motivate students, can have the opposite affect. This includes “gratuitous praise” and sympathy. Although “well-meaning efforts to increase students’ self-confidence can actually lower children’s judgments of their ability to do well in school, and thus decrease the probability that they will, in fact, succeed” (Stipek, 1997, p. 83). In place of blanket statements of encouragement, children benefit from constructive evaluation that gives them information of how to improve as well as elements of encouragement for movement in the right direction. Similarly, children that are not challenged to exceed minimum standards set in the classroom understand that although they recognize they could achieve a higher level, they do only what is necessary to reach the lower standard.

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    • Julianna Aguilar
      Nov 07, 2013 @ 09:29:18

      Stacie, I like that you brought up the possible issues associated with sympathy and praise. It is ironic that teachers want to show acceptance and care for these students in order to help them perform well in school, yet inadvertently can lower their self-confidence and overall academic functioning. This need for individual evaluation as opposed to general encouragement is closely tied to the overall theme of needing to tailor education to each specific student as much as possible. Though this style of education would be very beneficial to help students grow and master material on their own level, the amount of resources available to public schools, and teachers specifically, makes it very difficult to implement this model fully. At the very least, it is important information for teachers to have in order to help students most effectively with the resources they have.

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  7. Amanda Thomas
    Nov 07, 2013 @ 12:12:56

    Motivational learning that focuses on the individual students capability seems to be more beneficial that traditional competitive based standards. Motivational learning bolsters competence and autonomy, so students compare their successes or failures to their own potential or experiences. Whereas, competitive based standards students across the learning curve compare themselves to their peers. A motivational approach not only encourages academic outcomes it also provides the opportunity to develop or improve coping skills. The better equipped a child is in regard to coping the better off that child will be in the future academically, vocationally, emotionally, and behaviorally.

    Low achieving students are at the mercy of their teachers. Teachers have the capacity to bolster learning for low and high achievers alike. Their thoughts and behaviors regarding their students capacity and motivation to learn impact achievement. The early experiences of children immensely impact their perception of themselves later on in life when these experiences are positive in nature. Teachers can implement these positive experiences in the classroom by altering their teaching styles. Implementing individualized instruction versus global instruction takes the onus off of competition. This allows students to reach personal achievements which also improves self esteem. When teachers lower overall standards in the classroom there is no room for students to fail as they are never expected to surpass the expectation. Teachers that display the highest grade and praise higher achievers, damage the motivation and esteem of the lower achiever. Students who don’t reach that expectation view themselves as failures and devalue their learning experiences at school. When these students are not praised for their efforts it perpetuates the negative cycle. Teachers who create an environment that bolsters students individually have the best outcomes. This is achieved though the utilization of individualized students skill sets, understanding, and learning styles.

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    • Kirsten Chirichetti
      Nov 07, 2013 @ 23:41:06

      Amanda, I thought it was interesting how you mentioned the critical and pivotal role that teachers have in the student learning process. Every day teachers’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviors impact their students in some sort of way. For this reason, it is imperative that teachers are aware of their power and influence and utilize it to ensure that their students master the curriculum. Teachers must provide their students with classroom assignments and opportunities that are challenging, meaningful, and require some degree of critical thinking. They must also strive to expect that each and every student in their classes will succeed. By having this positive and optimistic attitude, teachers can increase students’ self-esteem and confidence in their ability to learn.

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    • Sara Grzejszczak
      Nov 09, 2013 @ 22:31:12

      Amanda, I like how you pointed out that low achieving students are at the mercy of their teachers. If teachers do not give low achieving students the time of day there is no way that the students can understand the tasks at hand better to learn how to master them. I also like how you included the fact that by teachers lowering the standards so no one fails that children do not end up trying their best because they have nothing to strive for. Individualized lessons for students are the best way to go but unfortunately not always an option for teachers if their classes are large with a lot of students that need a lot of modifications to the lessons.

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  8. Anthony Rofino
    Nov 07, 2013 @ 14:08:10

    Stipek (1997) stands on the side that motivational based learning is far more important than competitive based learning for students. The article describes that most children begin their school experience with an eagerness that is lost typically by third grade. When a student is comparing their grades to the grades of others, they may become even more discouraged because they can not compete with the grades that their peers receive, making the children who do poorly even worse because they lack confidence. A motivational-based learning allows the student to meet their own standards and motivate themselves, while also maintaining the expectations that they must learn certain aspects of the curriculum.

    Teachers are notorious for propagating the self-fulfilling prophecy that can lead to low-acheiving students continuing to receive poor grades. If a teacher feels that the child is low-acheiving, they lower their own expectations for the child. The teacher may use techniques, such as gratuitous praise, which they think are helping, but in reality, are hurting the child. Stipek dictates, “well-meaning efforts to increase students’ self-confidence can actually lower children’s judgments of their ability to do well in school, and thus decrease the probability that they will, in fact, succeed” (1997, p. 83). Teachers may also give special privileges or attention to the smarter students, leaving less time for the struggling students, continuing the cycle.

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    • Paige Hartmann
      Nov 09, 2013 @ 18:09:14

      Anthony, I liked your discussion of Stipek’s notion of focusing on motivational learning in children rather than competitive-based learning. Competitive-based learning can be very frustrating to the lower-achieving children who cannot reach the same standards as their higher-achieving classmates. By utilizing motivational-based learning, the child is able to maintain motivation by meeting their own standards as well as the expectations of their teacher.

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  9. Melissa Recore
    Nov 07, 2013 @ 17:18:00

    Motivational standards are better than competitive standards for many reasons. Motivational standards focuses on the child’s success, strengths and personal abilities academically when compared with peers. The competitive based approach only looks at how the children compare with each other and do not discuss the unique qualities which aid the child in being motivated towards success. Competitive approach often has the effect of making a few children feel great that excel but the average or below average students often feel inadequate and failures.
    Teacher’s who give special privileges to “star students” or students who they feel are more rewarding to teach, then the other children will often feel disliked, or slanted. The lack of attention by the teacher can decrease their self confidence. Teacher behavior can also impact the child’s motivation and esteem in their performance. Children who get high levels of positive attention with low work scrutiny will likely perform at a higher level then the children who get little attention, reinforcement or who are scrutinized or harshly judged on their work.

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    • Paige Hartmann
      Nov 09, 2013 @ 18:14:11

      Melissa, I liked how you addressed the differences between motivational and competitive-based learning and it’s effects on children. Specifically, I like how you pointed out that the competitive-based approach does not consider the unique qualities of each child but rather focuses on how children compare to one another. The motivational-based learning approach is more beneficial for children in maintaining their level of motivation as well as their degree of self-efficacy.

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    • Sara Grzejszczak
      Nov 09, 2013 @ 22:20:05

      Melissa, I liked how you pointed out that the competitive based approach focuses on the strengths that the children have so that they can be successful instead of working on things that they are not personally good at and do not get the feeling of mastering a task. I also liked how you pointed out that teachers give special privileges to student that do their work which makes others feel like they are not as good, for what ever reason, when it may not be their fault that the work is not getting done as quickly or as well as “star students.”

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  10. Angela Vizzo
    Nov 07, 2013 @ 17:50:09

    Competitively based standards define success as performing better than one’s classmates. Research by Ames and Ames, as well as by Covington and Omelich shows that this standard is detrimental to children because they only feel they have performed well if they did better than their classmates, regardless of whether they improved upon their own individual performance or not. Because of this students’ motivation can be lowered. For those who perform poorly in relation to their peers, they stop trying and internalize the view that they are a failure, while those who do well only do the minimum that is necessary to remain on top and do not strive for more. In contrast, mastery criteria, where the child is comparing their current work against their previous work has been proven to foster more motivation and self-confidence in children. I agree with this, and would agree that mastery criteria would be better than competitive criteria to be implemented in schools, however it is unrealistic in the current school system to give each student individual work geared toward their own intellectual abilities. I think the school system has tried to even out the playing field, at least in high school settings, by creating leveling and grouping students into different levels.

    Teachers who think or behave in a way that conveys to their students that they believe they will not do well can be self-fulfilling, in that the students will not do well as a result of the teacher’s attitude. I read a book about this topic in a sociology class I took, explaining how many teachers did not believe girls would do well in math and science and therefore taught in ways that made it harder for girls to do well. This is especially important in the earlier years, as if a child internalizes the idea that they are less intelligent, they will always feel that way and not strive to do better.

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    • Anthony Rofino
      Nov 09, 2013 @ 17:13:22

      Angela, I like that you mention that the current school environment does not allow for certain aspects of motivational learning. Budgeting and lack of teachers means that the school system can not cater to each individual student. Unfortunately, the only way for this to be plausible would be to homeschool every student, but this is not practical, and also brings along other issues.

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    • Stacie Z.
      Nov 09, 2013 @ 23:15:13

      Angela- I also agree with the limits of schools being able to individualize work for each student. Although the article highlighted the numerous benefits of tailoring classwork to the individual student’s capabilities, strengths, and areas where improvement is needed, the ability for school districts to do this is impacted by budgets, class size, core competencies that need to be taught at each grade level in order to prepare for state testing.

      Reply

  11. Sara Grzejszczak
    Nov 07, 2013 @ 18:29:48

    Motivation is said to what suffers the most among children that are experiencing school failure. While motivation can be lost it is the better of the two standards (motivation vs. competitive). Motivation learning lets a child feel confident because they are only learning tasks that they can handle and then move on to new ones once they master the old tasks. This leads to children being and feeling more confident in their work and proud of what they can do because they are not being compared to anyone or anyone else’s work. When children feel this way they are more apt to stay attentive in class and on the tasks that they are learning. When looking at competitive standards all children are doing is being compared to others. Work is displayed on a board for everyone to see and children see the different grades that they all get which then do not sit well when one gets a 100% and someone else gets a 99% because they could have done better. This style of standards, which is most popular in schools, does always let children learn at their own pace because of the feeling that they have to be better than everyone else, which then leads to behaviors such as cheating. While competitive learning seems to be the easiest to integrate in school systems, teachers should really look at how students do with having to compete and try to realize that they will better understand and retain the information that they are learning if there was motivation based standards instead.

    Students that are low achieving are treated differently than their peers in class by teachers is a self-fulfilling situation because the students get in trouble for not completing assignments and goofing around by the teacher and in turn the teacher does not help the students learn the task at hand which then leads the low achieving student to not understand and not complete the assignment. The student will then not feel support from the teacher or even their peers which in turn creates and environment where the student cannot perform well. Teachers should not give sympathy and accept all of the behaviors of a child who is acting out because it will not help them in the long run. Instead teachers should expect appropriate behavior from the student and effort on the part of the student by asking for help at appropriate times and following along with the class so they do not get too far behind. If a teacher can give positive regard regardless of the skills of the student the student will then begin to realize that they are not an unvalued person and their teacher really does care about how well they do.

    Reply

    • Kirsten Chirichetti
      Nov 07, 2013 @ 23:27:06

      Sara, I really like that you mentioned the various negative side effects of having competitive standards in the classroom. When competitive standards are implemented in the classroom (i.e., displaying only A papers on a bulletin board), children may lose their self-esteem and confidence, feeling very poorly about themselves. These negative thoughts, in turn, may lead some children to experience depressed feelings and engage in maladaptive behaviors. In order to compete with their peers, low-achieving students may cheat on their tests or “use friends/classmates” for answers or ideas. In this way, children may hinder their social relationships in order to achieve more in the classroom. For this reason, competitive standards hinder the learning environment in the classroom, creating many problems. Teachers should therefore try to implement individual/mastery criteria standards, allowing all students to experience their own personal successes.

      Reply

  12. Katrina Mitchell
    Nov 07, 2013 @ 19:19:36

    Based on the context of the reading, motivation as it corresponds to students and learning is an individual’s willingness to engage in the learning process, self-confidence in their ability to learn and complete academic tasks, persistence when faced with adversity, orientation towards developing understanding and mastering of skills, enthusiasm and optimism about learning, and feeling proud of accomplishments. However, competitively based standards affect a student’s motivation in several ways. Competitively based standards introduce success in comparison between two children versus personal improvement. Children who create competitively based standards are satisfied when one child wins and one child loses. The child who wins develops feelings of satisfaction while the other child did not. Therefore, it seems that in the individualistic condition, students focus on their own performance and growth and reap more and better benefits then when competing with each other.

    Teachers’ behavior towards low-achieving students has a stark contrast with their behavior with higher-achieving students affecting how both students perform. Therefore, it seems that teachers who expect less, teach less, causing children to master tasks below their capability and accept themselves as academic failures based off of their teachers’ behavior. In fact, researchers found that low achieving students who were given low expectations experienced a negative social-emotional client. Low achieving students with low expectations also seem to experience multiple negative reactions from their teacher such as facial expressions, different tones of voice, less friendliness, less challenging assignments, less engagement in the classroom, and less follow-up on the work they did accomplish. Higher achieving students do not experience these behaviors from their teacher and are more likely focused on in an optimistic light.

    Reply

    • Angela Vizzo
      Nov 09, 2013 @ 16:56:58

      Katrina, I really like your discussion of motivation and competitively based standards. You included a lot of different a lot of different aspects that the article touched upon in your definition of motivation. Also, you touch upon a lot of the important social aspects that affect a low-achieving student.

      Reply

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Adam M. Volungis, PhD, LMHC

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