Options for Sustaining Effort and Persistence
Educators can incorporate equity into curriculum design, materials and learning spaces to support learners in persisting through challenge in their learning process. Below are three “checkpoints” or strategies for the guideline of options for sustaining effort and persistence. If you click on each of these checkpoints, you will find examples of how these strategies can be implemented into practice.
Options for Sustaining Effort and Persistence
Below are four “checkpoints” or strategies for the options for Sustaining Effort and Persistence guideline. If you click on each of these checkpoints, you will find examples of how these strategies can be implemented into practice.
Heighten saliency of goals
Build in periodic or persistent “reminders” of both the goal and its value to sustain effort and concentration in the face of distracters.
Provide opportunities for learners to make connections between the work they are doing and their own long-term and short-terms goals.
Vary demands and resources to optimize challenge
Build in options so that learners can choose from a variety of entry points to meet their needs based on what will be stimulating enough to keep them interested and motivated versus overwhelmed or bored.
Foster collaboration and community
The distribution of mentoring through peers can greatly increase the opportunities for one-on-one support.
Consider also flexible rather than fixed grouping, which may allow better differentiation and multiple roles, as well as providing opportunities to learn how to work most effectively with others.
Increase mastery-oriented feedback
This type of feedback is critical in helping learners to sustain the motivation and effort essential to learning. Mastery-oriented feedback is feedback that guides learners towards mastery rather than a fixed notion of performance or compliance. It also emphasizes the role of effort and practice rather than “intelligence” or inherent “ability” as an important factor in guiding learners towards successful long-term habits and learning practices. These distinctions may be particularly important for learners whose disabilities have been interpreted, by either themselves or others, as permanently constraining and fixed.
E.g.: “I’ve noticed that when you speak, you provide lots of detail. Have you thought about starting with speech to text when you begin an assignment?”
Mastery-Oriented Learning and Feedback
Let’s take a moment to explore the fourth checkpoint: mastery-oriented feedback or learning.
First, we acknowledge that the term mastery can evoke negative connotations about the use of power. This serves as another example of why it is important to look at UDL with a complementary lens like anti-oppressive practice to bring this consciousness to the forefront during the reflective practice. In the context of learning and what is being referred to here in the UDL guideline of Options for Sustaining Effort and Persistence, mastery-oriented feedback (also known as mastery-oriented learning) involves educators guiding and coaching learners to “master” concepts and skills at their own pace before they move on to new concepts.
The term was first coined by John B. Carroll (1963). Carroll wished to reproduce achievement levels of students who had access to one-to-one tutoring, and noted a correlation between aptitude and having sufficient time to learn. Building on the work of Carroll, Benjamin Bloom (1971) sought ways to structure the classroom environment that made personalized pace, formative feedback, and opportunities to address gaps available to all.
John Legend: Success Through Effort (Runtime: 2:01 min).
In conventional learning environments, students generally move forward at a fixed or fairly fixed pace, doing the best they can before moving on. For many learners, this means moving forward before sufficient mastery has been achieved, often leading to a lower percentage grade. In this situation, a learner’s grade is not an indication of the learner’s ability. Instead, it is an indication of the effects of barriers such as lack of time and opportunity to practice and correct mistakes. With mastery-oriented learning and feedback, students are able to check their progress, address gaps, and revisit and review materials (as a grad student does) in order to achieve mastery before moving on.
Mastery-oriented learning is based on the idea that almost any student can learn almost anything given an infinite amount of time. As mentioned in Module 1, many institutional processes work against ideal conditions for learning, for example, by having a fixed end of term. However, within this constraint, we can offer the building blocks of mastery-oriented learning and feedback so that students can engage at their own pace, build new learning on previously mastered concepts and skills, and value mistakes when they’re made. In mastery-oriented learning, making mistakes is key to the learning process.
How can you make it safer for learners to fail and share that experience with one another? What systemic framing of failure within educational systems needs to be discussed in the learning environment in order for learners to become comfortable with the discomfort of failure?
In this video, college professors Jeff Brown, Sarika Narinesingh, and Warren Ford share how they minimize threats that may prevent learners from taking risks and how they counter forces that lead to inequitable distribution of power and privilege.
Educator Strategies for Minimizing Threats
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>> So in looking at UDL and multiple means of engagement, I was asked the question, how do you minimize threats which may prevent learners from taking risk in their learning? And if I have to respond to that, I would say I always try to create open dialogue. Students have different perspectives and thought processes. And my goal is to create a space for natural discussion and conversation, and I kind of do this by telling students they have the expertise. By using relevant material to their industry, I think that, you know, this gives students the opportunity to learn from each other and create space for their own expression and how they want to express themselves. Now the next question, how do you counter forces that lead to inequitable distribution of power and privilege? In my opinion, we have essentially classrooms of, I would say, adult learners. I try to engage with all of them and so if I pose a question to the class and it's mostly the same people that answer, I will oftentimes call on others to respond, give them an opportunity to, you know, voice their opinion. I want to show that I'm interested in what they have to say as well. So while some might see this as like calling students out, I like to look at it as calling them in to be part of the conversation and let them know that they have equal opportunity to voice their opinion, engage, and have their say.
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>> At the beginning of every term, I'm excited to welcome new students into the college communication classroom because I know they walk in with different experiences, different levels of expertise, and different learning goals. The beginning of the term is also when I get to introduce myself to them. I say yes, on paper I am your teacher but in practice it might feel more like I'm your communication coach. I'm here to cheer you on. I'm here to check your form, and I'm here to give you feedback. I'll share with you what's worked for me when it comes to writing and communicating in different situations. But I also invite you to share what's worked for you in the past because just as much as you can learn from me, we can learn from you, and we will definitely learn from the process. And let me tell you, writing is a really mysterious process. And just like how we all learn differently, we all come to writing differently. So try on new techniques and strategies and, you know, see what fits you. Reflect on what's meeting your needs but also what's not working. What's not serving your communication goals? And if you get stuck in your writing or you're just not sure how to proceed, that's okay. I'm here to coach you through the process.
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>> When it comes to minimizing threats that may prevent learners from taking risks in their learning, it's about community. It's community that lets students take risks. This means building rapport and relationship with students. This is not an easy thing to do and it's highly contextual. I strive to create space and spaces for the students to have their own voice, to feel involved in the course. Interaction is key, whether in person or online. This could mean utilizing interactive features of the LMS like the student-led discussion boards, collaborative writing exercises using the Wiki feature, breakout group sessions. It means a lot of small group activities, discussions that welcome a diversity of perspectives. But again it's about the space belonging to the students. The key is that this space has to be defined horizontally, student-to-student, rather than vertically, teacher-to-student which of course brings us to the issue of distributions of power and privilege in learning spaces and countering forces that can lead to inequities, both among students as peers and in terms of the teacher-student dynamic. One strategy I focus on concerns how I present myself in my role. This involves acknowledging my own privilege not only as a teacher but as a white male. And by acknowledging it, I'm problematizing it explicitly. I also try to include assessment that promotes learner engagement. There can be a symbiotic relationship between student motivation and an assignment that lets students express themselves, but students can’t express themselves won't feel safe revealing their individuality if they don't feel secure in the learning environment. This type of assignment, scaffolded and with plenty of formative feedback, encourages students to tap into and draw upon their own interests while meeting the learning outcomes of the course. Students can also propose the format they will use, an assignment that students are motivated to work on at the same time enhances their engagement and willingness to try something new in their learning. It also puts students in the driver seat, so to speak, and takes the teacher out of it.
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Educator Strategies for Minimizing Threats - Runtime 6:30 min