Learning and teaching from an Expectancy Value Theory Viewpoint

The Expectancy Value Theory states that people’s behavior is directly related to their perception or belief in a given objective, and the value they attach to achieving said objective. Basically, people guesstimate the amount/type of work needed to achieve an outcome, and that they have preconceived ideas of how they will feel or what they will accomplish with the effort they provided.

Although this is a Consumer Behavior/ Marketing theory, I will attempt to describe my understanding of learning and teaching from this perspective.

Learners Assumptions: College students are paying customers. Students pay the university for the opportunity to expand their education, and for the opportunity to earn a college diploma. The university has developed curriculum to guide the student through the journey of intellectual maturity as they approach graduation. However, generally speaking, no refund or rebate is given if these objectives are not met. The consumer (college student) may discontinue college all together if the product (college) does not meet their expectations or may take their business elsewhere (go to another college).

It is safe for us to assume that college students have expectations of college. Based on these expectations, students exert the perceived effort to achieve those expectations.

So this got me thinking…..Is this the real difference between a student that reads before coming to class, and those that don’t? Is this the difference between students that come to my office to ask clarification about a test question or ask me to read their rough draft prior to the due date?

IF WE HELP CHANGE student’s perception of how they can be successful in my class or college, can I create an environment that allows them to have greater achievements? (change expectations = change behavior = change outcomes)

Teaching Assumptions: Teachers provide an instructional service that facilitates the educational experience.  Just like the service industry or any company you prefer over another…some are better than others (even if they deliver the same results).  As teachers get to know their student’s learning styles, they adapt their teaching materials and instructional delivery method to serve the students better. In an ideal world, teachers will know exactly how to successfully facilitate learning, and it could be done is a systematic way. However, this is not that simple.

In “Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher” , Stephen Brookfield highlights that teachers do not always know what helps or hurts the learning process in their classrooms. He also suggest that Teachers must simply ask questions about the learning process in order to understand what is REALLY going on from the students perspective. For example, Brookfield explains that group activities do not always facilitate learning. Sometimes students are embarrassed to talk amongst their peers, or one peer dominates the conversation. So, just because group activities and discussion are generally good, they may not always facilitate learning.

In the next couple of weeks, I will be using a “critical incident questionnaire” to evaluate how teaching and learning is interacting in my classrooms. I hope to discover what I am doing that helps students learn, and what I am doing that prevents them from engaging like they want to. The end goal is to improve desired behavioral outcomes towards learning, and increase the total value assumption of my class.

Conclusion: Learning and teaching is an interactive process. I believe students think they know what they need to do to be successful in my class. Some demonstrate that well, and it takes very little effort on my part to get them to actively participate in the learning process. I self-identify with this type of learner, and I understand that it is easier for me to teach 20-30 students that are always prepared and contribute to class. However, I see few students that fit into this ideal learner category.

I am confused when I find students unprepared for in-class discussion, a quiz, or are simply playing on their phone during my class. I ask myself… Do they do these things because they think this behavior will make them successful? Did I not tell them my expectations ahead of time? Do they not see value in my class? Do they not feel like they can be successful? Do they know what being a good student means?

These are hard questions to ask… And an even harder question is … Can I change their perceived belief or value that they have of my class? Should I take this responsibility or is this the responsibility of the learner? How do I create an environment that increases the student’s perceived value of my class?

AND.. if I do find a way to increase the learning experience this semester…. Will it work if I do it again next semester?

My original thoughts in April of 2013

My thoughts
I thought I would post the grant proposal I wrote. As we go through the year let’s see how close I stick to the original intent.

Here is what I was thinking back in April 2013:

Being a Christian in Biology
The mission statement and vision statement of East Texas Baptist University center on the integration of faith and learning in the pursuit of truth. Biological science, by its very nature, is the pursuit of truth in the physical observable universe. Jesus is spiritual truth and the creator of the physical, observable universe. Studying the Bible, prayer and meditation are often times considered the only way to know Christ and to find the truth. Most Christians forget that we may come to know Christ better, more fully, by understanding that which He created. Humans have built barriers between faith and science. Christ has no such barriers. Reflection on Christ’s teachings in conjunction with studying His creation leads to a fuller understanding of the truth and the nature of Jesus as God and Creator.

Those who search for truth need to have the ability and skill to discern truth from propaganda, prejudice, and lies. They need to be able to think with clarity, accuracy, depth, and breadth to understand the significance of the information being presented and the fairness of the presentation. Most people live their lives with a lower order of thinking. They lack reflection and logic relying mainly on distorted, uninformed, self-serving, self-deceiving, and prejudicial thinking. Many Christians believe something is true simply because it’s what they have always believed. For example, many Southern Baptists believe that dancing is a sin. This is not a Biblical truth, it is a cultural construct. As Christian scholars it is our responsibility to teach/lead/model the pursuit of truth with Christ-like thinking. Jesus was a profound critical thinker. He demanded clarity and accuracy from those who were the interpreters of the Law. He challenged the relevance of the traditions of the religious leaders and required His followers to think deeply about complex issues. He taught His followers to broaden their preconceived ideas to include people who had been previously excluded from God’s teachings. He dared to ask questions about the way life was lived and whether or not that way made sense or was fair.

Christ demanded that we know the truth in order to be free. He demands that we be free from the Law, prejudice, hypocrisy, cowardice, arrogance, and conformity. These are all attributes of the sin-filled life. In order to be free we must be humble, have the courage to face the tough issues, persevere in integrity, fairness, and Christ-centered autonomy. To be free we need to think critically the way Christ demands. In my reflections I will discuss what it means to be a critical thinker and the attributes of a critical thinker. I will use biological/bioethical questions and issues to model integration of Biblical principles with scientific reasoning. I will model intrinsic motivation in order to inspire others to begin their search for the truth. By embracing Christ-centered faith, I will model engaging the mind of a critical thinker in order to empower leaders to be free to pursue truth where ever it may be found.

What is critical thinking?

What is critical thinking?

Critical thinking is the art of analyzing and evaluating thinking with a view to improving thinking.

I know the definition states that critical thinking is an “art” but it utilizes scientific standards. Or did scientific standards come from critical thinking? Is critical thinking natural or cultivated? Both, I think. There are those who are by their very nature critical thinkers/problem solvers and others who are not. Critical thinking skills can be taught, learned and cultivated.

There are 8 elements to thought:

  • Purpose
  • Questions
  • Information
  • Interpretation and inference
  • Concepts
  • Assumptions
  • Implications and consequences
  • Point of view

Which when coupled with the universal intellectual standards …

  • Clarity
  • Accuracy
  • Relevance
  • Logicalness
  • Breadth
  • Precision
  • Significance
  • Completeness
  • Fairness
  • Depth

…Result in self-directed self improvement. To be a lifelong learner one must be able to evaluate and cultivate traits that promote intellectual humility, autonomy, integrity, courage, perseverance, confidence, reason, empathy, and fair-mindedness.

WAIT! Ummm… don’t those traits remind you of someone special? Someone who taught His pupils about loving God and loving others? Someone who bucked the system because it was leading people away from God? Someone who baffled the intellectual and religious leaders of his day when he was only 12 years old?

This week go through the gospels and read Christ’s teachings (you know the red writing) and look for the elements of thought the intellectual standards. Was Christ a critical thinker?