Why Robotics and Coding?

Being a mom of three children has taught me a great deal about motivation.  In binary terms: “Mom can motivate a child” would be TRUE.  There is the promise of reward, threat of punishment or the (bad parent) bribe.  But “Mom can motivate a teenager,” seems to compile to FALSE.

By the time my children reached  their teens it was clear that they had amazing capacity to move and be focused, but only on things that mattered to them.

I started looking at motivational theories to see what is would take to keep teenagers engaged and active in learning a new skill and pushing past the point where it is not just entertaining.

The ARCS model of Motivational Design made sense to me and became the basis for many decisions made in selecting and putting together a curriculum.

Here is an overview of the theory .  This article from: David L, “ARCS Model of Motivational Design Theories (Keller),” in Learning Theories, July 23, 2014, https://www.learning-theories.com/kellers-arcs-model-of-motivational-design.html.

Summary: According to John Keller’s ARCS Model of Motivational Design Theories, there are four steps for promoting and sustaining motivation in the learning process: Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction (ARCS)

I have changed the text colour to green where I felt that robotics and coding could directly satisfy the criteria for learners to stay motivated to learn.  In the years the center has been open, I have witnessed young learners, learners who are not academically strong and learners you would not expect to have staying power, dig and in keep going.

Originator: John Keller

Key terms: Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction (ARCS)

ARCS Model of Motivational Design (Keller)

1. Attention

  • Keller attention can be gained in two ways: (1) Perceptual arousal – uses surprise or uncertainly to gain interest. Uses novel, surprising, incongruous, and uncertain events; or (2) Inquiry arousal – stimulates curiosity by posing challenging questions or problems to be solved.
  • Methods for grabbing the learners’ attention include the use of:
    • Active participation -Adopt strategies such as games, roleplay or other hands-on methods to get learners involved with the material or subject matter.
    • Variability – To better reinforce materials and account for individual differences in learning styles, use a variety of methods in presenting material (e.g. use of videos, short lectures, mini-discussion groups).
    • Humor -Maintain interest by use a small amount of humor (but not too much to be distracting)
    • Incongruity and Conflict – A devil’s advocate approach in which statements are posed that go against a learner’s past experiences.
    • Specific examples – Use a visual stimuli, story, or biography.
    • Inquiry – Pose questions or problems for the learners to solve, e.g. brainstorming activities.

2. Relevance

  • Establish relevance in order to increase a learner’s motivation. To do this, use concrete language and examples with which the learners are familiar. Six major strategies described by Keller include:
    • Experience – Tell the learners how the new learning will use their existing skills. We best learn by building upon our preset knowledge or skills.
    • Present Worth – What will the subject matter do for me today?
    • Future Usefulness – What will the subject matter do for me tomorrow?
    • Needs Matching – Take advantage of the dynamics of achievement, risk taking, power, and affiliation.
    • Modeling – First of all, “be what you want them to do!” Other strategies include guest speakers, videos, and having the learners who finish their work first to serve as tutors.
    • Choice – Allow the learners to use different methods to pursue their work or allowing s choice in how they organize it.

3. Confidence

  • Help students understand their likelihood for success. If they feel they cannot meet the objectives or that the cost (time or effort) is too high, their motivation will decrease.
  • Provide objectives and prerequisites – Help students estimate the probability of success by presenting performance requirements and evaluation criteria. Ensure the learners are aware of performance requirements and evaluative criteria.
  • Allow for success that is meaningful.
  • Grow the Learners – Allow for small steps of growth during the learning process.
  • Feedback – Provide feedback and support internal attributions for success.
  • Learner Control – Learners should feel some degree of control over their learning and assessment. They should believe that their success is a direct result of the amount of effort they have put forth.

4. Satisfaction

  • Learning must be rewarding or satisfying in some way, whether it is from a sense of achievement, praise from a higher-up, or mere entertainment.
  • Make the learner feel as though the skill is useful or beneficial by providing opportunities to use newly acquired knowledge in a real setting.
  • Provide feedback and reinforcement. When learners appreciate the results, they will be motivated to learn. Satisfaction is based upon motivation, which can be intrinsic or extrinsic.
  • Do not patronize the learner by over-rewarding easy tasks.