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Making the Game Worth Playing & Being Courageous with The Hard Parts


Making the Game Worth Playing: The Impact of Emotions and Motivation on Teaching & Learning

The emotions and motivation of both teachers and students contribute to making the game worth playing. As educators, we want emotions and motivation to foster learning, not the opposite. Ash states that scientists see emotion as an “…intrinsic part of rational decision making” (Ash, n.d.). Since emotions influence student behavior, they also have a direct correlation to a student engagement and motivation. In order for students to be intrinsically motivated to be successful, educators need to make them feel like their learning matters on a global level. Perkins (2009) posits, “If much of what we taught highlighted understandings of wide scope, with enlightenment, empowerment, and responsibility in the foreground, there is every reason to think that youngsters would retain more, understand more, and use more of what they learned” (p. 61). Although most psychologists position self-actualization at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of needs, it is actually altruism, or sharing your gifts with others, which is the biggest motivating factor for students and teachers. Thus, one of my objectives in my classroom is to help students discover their gifts and strengths to make the game worth playing for them.

Trigwell, Ellis, and Han (2012) explain, “Students who are proud of their achievements may seek to enhance that emotion through deeper engagement with their course, and/or the satisfaction achieved through meaningful learning may produce a feeling of pride. Students with negative emotional experiences during learning may adopt more surface approaches…” (p. 822). Therefore, learning greatly depends on the affect of the teacher. I am aware that not all of my students will love my subject, so it is up to me to keep my class engaging and give them assignments in which they can connect to their passions and feel proud of their successes.

 Aspects of Attention & Memory Important for the Hard Parts

Perkins (2009) does a fantastic job of explaining the six types of knowledge that are considered difficult for learners: ritual, inert, foreign, tacit, skilled, and conceptually difficult (p. 89-90). Since these all pose challenges for students, teachers must anticipate the aspects of attention and memory that will be crucial to working on the hard parts. Fougnie (2008) states, “The capacity to perform some complex tasks depends critically on the ability to retain task-relevant information in an accessible state over time (working memory) and to selectively process information in the environment (attention)” (p. 1). Ash goes on to say that, “In order to transfer new knowledge into memory, the mind must pay attention to the information being presented” (Ash, n.d.). Thus, a teacher’s job is to engage students while also giving them strategies for retaining the information that captures their attention. If they can successfully do this, information will make its way into a student’s working memory and transfer in various contexts.

 Strategies to Aid in Making the Game Worth Playing & Working on the Hard Parts

In order to make the game worth playing and help my students with the hard parts, there are various research-based instructional methods I will implement. First and foremost, I work hard to engage my students in their learning. Perkins (2009) asserts that genuine assignments have disciplinary, societal, and personal significance as well as charisma (p. 130). I also give students what Perkins (2009) calls “…deliberate practice” (p. 80). In other words, I give students practice that is purposeful and authentic and that targets various skills. It is also important as an educator to have good assessment. Assessment should be ongoing, actionable, communicative, and implicit (Perkins, 2009, p. 83-87). I strive to assess my students over time, give them opportunities to apply their feedback right away, communicate objectively when I provide feedback, and tie their assessments neatly into their work in the classroom. A big part of my success with assessment has been to teach students how to peer and self edit. Ultimately, I will not be afraid to take some responsible risks to make the game worth playing or to tackle the hard parts.

Informative & thorough article discussing emotional intelligence (EQ) and practical suggestions for increasing children’s EQ for teachers and parents: http://www.6seconds.org/2013/05/29/healthy-classrooms-emotional-intelligence-and-brain-research/

Great webpage focused on helping you improve your memory: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/memory/how-to-improve-your-memory.htm

Webpage that explains 8 Working Memory boosters: https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/learning-at-home/homework-study-skills/8-working-memory-boosters


 Ash, D. EDU510 the cognitive science of teaching & learning: Unit 4 exploring the game & emotions [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from http://www.coursematerials.net/edu/edu510/unit4/index.htm.

Ash, D. EDU510 the cognitive science of teaching & learning: Unit 5 the “hard parts”: Memory, transfer & attention [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from http://www.coursematerials.net/edu/edu510/unit5/index.htm.

Fougnie, D. (2008). The relationship between attention and working memory. In N.B. Johansen (Ed.), New research on short-term memory (pp. 1-45). Nova Science Publishers. Retrieved from http://visionlab.harvard.edu/Members/darylfougnie/Daryl_Fougnie_%28Academic&29/Home_files/Fougnie-in%20press-chap%201.pdf.

Perkins, D.N. (2009). Making learning whole: How seven principles of teaching can transform education. Retrieved from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com/eds/ebookviewer/ebook/bmx1YmtfXzMxNDYwOV9fQU41?sid=24ac12af-1039-462c-9cfc-29255cc9172f@sessionmgr113&vid=0&format=EB&rid=1.

Trigwell, K., Ellis, R.A., & Han, F. (2012). Relations between students’ approaches to learning, experienced emotions and outcomes of learning. Studies in Higher Education, 37(7), 811-824. doi: 10.1080/03075079.2010.549220.


1 Comment

  1. Rebecca says:

    A student’s pride in his/her accomplishments and learning are so important – and it is the really effective teachers who recognize that and provide avenues for students to demonstrate that pride and accomplishment! Writing, for example, for an audience of one’s peers or knowing one’s work is valued can, indeed, make the game worth playing!

    Liked by 1 person

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