On Motivation and Engagement

File this one under “thinking out loud” or “I need help”

It’s no secret to readers, friends and my students that I have a thing with grading. Take your pick of posts and you’ll get the idea:

I’ve recently been sharing this graphic from Phil Schlechty on Engagement



If you look at how he defines engagement, you’ll see it suggests that it’s simply about learning and grades are inconsequential or at least way in the background. This is essentially my target. Yet I realize for the vast majority of the students I teach they are largely in the strategic compliance stage. This led me to think about a question I might pose to my students:

“If I were to give you an A at the beginning of the class and you didn’t have to take the course, would you accept that offer?”

I’m going to guess that if most were honest, they’d take that deal. I’m not even sure I wouldn’t either. Which led me to challenge myself with a similar question:

“If the University were to give you your stipend and you didn’t have to teach the course, would you accept that offer?”

I realize these aren’t entirely equal and fair questions but it does make me wonder about motivation for both me and my students. The truth is, I really do love teaching. I’m currently teaching at 2 institutions and the pay is over twice at much at one. Yet, I don’t put in half the time. In fact I likely work harder at the one I get paid less at because it’s a newer environment and structure and I need to in order to offer my students the best learning experience.

So I’m struggling a bit. I preach to my students often about how grading is over rated, how I don’t really value them, I want them to focus on learning, not grades. Yet many cannot get past this and yet I’m wondering if I’m being fair given I don’t do what I do purely because I love it. Maybe I’m being hypocritical.

Your thoughts are extremely welcome.



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