Motivation in a First-Year Seminar

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Motivation in college, let alone a first year seminar, is a key point of argument about if we are really getting all we can out of college. Students can attend the most prestigious school available but if they aren’t motivated to do work they will fail 100% of the time. This article by Jody E. Jessup-Anger brings up many great points on what will bring motivation and what will cause a lack of motivation in first year seminars. He presents to the reader all of the different approaches that were taken in research that was geared towards revealing what made students most motivated to work hard in these classes. After showing this research, he explains what it really means and expresses which class setting expressed the greatest excursion of motivation between the test groups.

Jessup-Anger brings up the point that motivational barriers were set from the beginning of the class. The class was a one credit, pass/fail class so kids and teachers both admitted to having expectations of low work load and not have this class as a priority. The fact that it was a pass/fail class led to kids waiting until the last minute do to the work and and not putting much time or effort in the assignments. Also, the professor of the seminar was limited in the preparation time and effort they could put into the course because it was not her “formal jobs responsibility”. They weren’t getting paid so any normal human being would obviously put themselves more into other work that will actually get them paid. Another factor that was in place since the beginning was the attitude the students enrolled had toward the course. Some kids took the class because they were truly interested in the subject at hand, but others were stuck taking the class because they were placed there by the university. The ones placed in there against their will or because it seemed like it was going to be easy obviously expressed less motivation and effort in the class. But, the professor realized there was a lack of motivation and decided to make them partake in conversation back and forth and make them engaged in the class by preparing more for the class.

The research done by Jessup-Anger also revealed that when students were able to personally connect to the classwork they were subsequently more motivated to do work in the class. Students were told to reflect on their own life which really shook the class and made them dive deep into actually applying themselves to their answer. This is such a personal question that they were forced to take this personally but they ended up actually going deep because it made them think about what they have really done with their time. This also made them interested because it ended up giving them insight on what their peers are going through in relation to themselves and how they were similar and how they were different.

CC BY NC cybrarian77
CC BY NC cybrarian77

Pedagogy related strategies was the other key point that Jessup-Anger ended up discovering was related to the motivation the students showed. The students appreciated and in return were willing to work with the professor when they acknowledged the students current level of writing skills and helped them from that point. The teacher then would respond with the answers the students were giving and attempted to get them to critically think even deeper than they normally would. Also, the teacher aimed to teach them skills that the students understood would help them in other classes as well because they knew they would be able to take this information out of this class and help them in the future in places of even more importance. Many students expressed that their writing for other classes was significantly better due to the professor teaching them skills they would use for classes other than their own.

I think this article brings up so many great points about motivation in the first-year seminar and uses great real life examples in it as well. Jessup-Anger brings up great points and quotes that back up the points they made in their article without overkilling the article with quotes. I agree with all the points that were made throughout the article as well. With my experiences as a student, I knew which classes I would be motivated to do work and which to slack off straight from the beginning. I knew this because of my choice of class based on how hard it was and how many credits the class was. Also, the teacher definitely needs to make the class relatable to students at least on some levels because if the student understands the work has nothing to do with them they will lose interest and motivation almost completely. Lastly, without the teacher understanding what strengths and weaknesses the students have with the current work, the students would be set up to fail and would influence the students to lose motivation all together with no positive looking future in the class.




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2 thoughts on “Motivation in a First-Year Seminar

  1. This is a fantastic start to the semester, Colin. I am going to share this on the hashtag to have others get a sense of what a really nice post on this topic looks like. This is a thorough summary, but I also appreciate hearing your voice here, and getting a sense of your perspective on the topic. Very, very well done! Can’t wait to read more of your work this semester! Other comments in, so check that out, too.

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