“This very real risk of losing our direction and failing to reach out desired destination should motivate us to be disciplined and deliberative when planning our action research, our planned exploration of a not-yet-visible destination (Sagor, 2011, p. 31).
It is important to remember the path we have traveled and where we still have to go. So far, we covered the concept of motivation and its’ impact on student persistence. Our training targets involve both performance targets and process targets. We are looking to improve awareness on postsecondary motivation, engagement, goal-setting, and achievement so that in the end dropout tendencies are better understood. Even more, following each training session, the components of an early warning system is being created by the participants. Each week, I will engaged in the four stages of an action research process – “envisioning success, clarifying a theory, collecting data while implementing theory, and reflecting on results obtained” (Sagor, 2011, p. 61).
In unit one, project participants were introduced to the larger purpose of the overall project. The training targets were introduced and the concept of an Early Warning System is considered. The drivers of attrition of particular concern to this project were explained, of which, the first was reviewed – Motivation. In our sixty minute face-to-face discussion, we began the process of separating extrinsic motivation from intrinsic motivation. We also explored a text book definition of motivation. And, we talked about instrument goals as a means for driving motive. Lastly, learners were introduced to the online discussion platform and the case presentation that we will reference for the next nine weeks. In unit two, participants were introduced to concepts of student engagement. Following unit two, participants were expected to be able to list at least one definition of student engagement; weigh the benefits of student engagement on persistence; adjust their ‘teaching strategies’ to support engagement. Key words were introduced: involved, interested, and connected. Participants were introduced to the literature on engagement and they were told: decreased engagement translates into increased dropout rates. Finally, participants were directed to www.EduOs.net to address the online discussion questions related to student engagement.
In the discussion forum of unit two, participants considered what an engaged Susan might look like. Then they each offered at least one action that might work to change the trajectory of her engagement. Some individuals were concerned with assessing her body language, and some were more interested about her reasons explaining why she is attending the program. Some suggest one-on-one sessions and some chose group sessions. In the end, the participants demonstrated their grasp on how engagement works to involve, interests, and connect Susan to the class at-large. Even more, the fundamental components needed to foster relationships is beginning to form in the class.
In unit one, the project participants were asked to examine a specific scenario whereby a student (Susan) was not performing to standards. According to the scenario, the student “…misses assignment deadlines and submits work late”. The project participants were asked two questions: (1) What strategies would you use to assess motivation and (2) How can you tell if motivation exists with your students. These questions were intended to prompt reflection and test strategies. The participants created a scale to rate learner motivation. Again in unit two, the participants were asked to reexamine the scenario, this time with a focus on Susan’s pattern if engagement (or lack thereof). The project participants were asked two questions: (1) How can you tell if she is disengaged/engaged; (2) What might an ‘involved’ Susan look like to you? Now it is time to target engagement and develop a scale to rate learner engagement. The idea is to, in the end, create an early warning system to alert faculty and staff of impending issues that might support attrition.
Teach the Teacher is a nine week series of professional development designed to use known drivers of postsecondary attrition to develop an early warning system to detect student dropout tendencies. Using a literature review and personal past experiences to inform the process, an early warning system is beginning to be built by the training participants. Following the session on ‘motivation’, participants were asked to consider what an “As Expected” rating might looking like to them (on a scale of 1 – 5). To-date, the participants have applied what they have learned to develop the first scale (shown above) that will become part of the Early Warning System used by Bryman College.
Morrow & Ackermann (2012) found that learners who are unable to form positive motivational “attitudes” towards goal fulfillment are at greater risk of dropping from program. Within the context of their research, “Students that reported being more motivated by instruments goals such as getting a job (following graduation) and succeeding in society were more likely to intend to persist; students without distinct goals or motivations were less likely to persist (Morrow & Ackermann, 2012, p. 483).Even more, it’s very difficult to talk about goal-setting and not mention the concepts of student development theory. According to Pascarella and Terenzini, “Developmental theories and models seek to identify the dimensions and structure of growth in college student and to explain the dynamics by which growth occurs” (as cited by Sandeen and Barr, 2007, p. 13). Theories can be tested and proved – which makes them theories. When it comes to theories related to student development in higher education, there are many different ways to approach the topic. Today, there are generally five different categories of student development theory. These categories are (1) psychosocial, (2) cognitive – structural, (3) person – environment, (4) humanistic existential and, (5) student development process models.
According to Bobby (2008), “Piaget believed that the development of a child occurs through a continuous transformation of thought processes” (p. 26). What this means is that a child develops cognitively as their thoughts develop. A teacher may assist the process by gradually increasing the rigor of learning. Learners use their thoughts to work through challenging scenarios. As thought processes improve, goal-setting (and the realization of goals) is becomes more tangible.
Futuring is a technique that can be called upon by anyone who, using current information, wishes to apply an orderly approach to creating assumptions about tomorrow. According to the Encyclopedia of Business, “Futuring is the field of using a systematic process for thinking about, picturing possible outcomes, and planning for the future” (2012). An exercise in futuring should yield feelings of confidence and courage. Another important point to futuring is that a clairvoyant thought does not form the basis of future action. According to Moorcroft, “The case for this is strong, and rests on two assumptions: first, knowing what the future looks like is impossible, and therefore (second) knowing how to manage an unknown is also impossible” (2007, pg. 4). Helping to explain futuring – what-if scenarios are fundamental to attempts at the creation of plans that lead to intended futures or the avoidance of unintended, undesirable futures. Scenarios are further explained by Godet and Roubelat as a “description of a future situation and the course of events which allows one to move forward from the original situation to the future” (1996, p. 166). So then, what is the purpose of targeting an unknown point in the future knowing that there are certain weaknesses inherent in attempting to predict future events simply by looking into the proverbial crystal-ball? The answer is simple and reassuring. According to Mietzner and Reger (2005), “scenarios should provide strategist with various possible futures and not forecast the future” (p. 220). The value to futuring rests with knowing how to plan and respond – to any situation. Scenario creation is akin to storytelling in that roles are created and assigned, plots are developed and strategies are offered for consideration. In a nutshell, to adequately engage in a futuring activity, first envision a point of consideration in the future. Then, scan the environment for information. Lastly, develop the scenario (story) that can be told to support a journey from the past, (or present) into the future.
Teach the teacher goal setting (unit three)
Louis Cabuhat, Dean of Education
“If you don‟t know where you are going,
any road will get you there”
- Richard S. Sagor
Connecting Your Actions to the Target
• Performance Targets (INDIVIDUAL OUTCOMES)
– Ask yourself, “What are students expected to gain from
– Improved motivation √
– Improved engagement √
– Realistic goal-setting
– Improved achievement
• Process Targets (TECHNIQUES or STRATEGIES)
– Development of an Early Warning System
• Unit One dealt with
• Motivation is driven by emotion
According to Chickering (2006), “motivation is the key to
persistence, moving through successfully, and learning
that lasts” (p. 13).
• Unit two dealt with
Learners who are Involved, Interested and Connected are more
likely to persist.
Recap: Discussion Board
“How can you tell if Susan is Engaged?”
“…did [Susan] enroll just because of her parents?” Ms. Lee
“[I am going to pay particular attention to] eye contact” Alex Esparcia
“I would ask her during her „private time‟ with me, how she feels about
the class” Meryl Harlow
“I would arrange to set aside the last 30 minutes of the class to have all
the students, including Susan partner up with a fellow student” J. Jeong
“ I would use is group activities” Anthony Cervantes
“Immediate Assessment” Avic Magsaysay (better known as formative
Drafting a Scale: Engagement
Worst NeedsImprovement Asexpected Above Expectations Best
1 2 3 4 5
Workingin your groups, take afew minutesto discusswhat an "asexpected" rating(on ascale of 1 - 5) lookslike. Remember to anchor
your discussion to our dynamic case: Susan. For example, if Susan were to meet your expectationson engagement, what would that look like
to you?Usingthisworksheet, draft one word adjectivesor small sentencesto explain what an 'engaged' Susan might look like. Think - Best
Our Early Warning System is taking
Worst NeedsImprovement Asexpected AboveExpectations Best
` 1 2 3 4 5
Asksfor help (asneeded) -
Unit Three – Goal-setting and
Introduction to Futuring
Learners will be able to:
Diagram steps that may be used to set realistic goals
Define Futuring techniques
Explain the benefits to Futuring
• “Adults do not become adults in an instant – it is a
developmental process” (Knowles, Holton III, &
Swanson, 2005, p. 220).
• The primary purpose of a university is to assist a
learner to develop competencies (Davis, 2012)
• “Learners who are unable to form positive
motivational “attitudes” towards goal fulfillment
are at greater risk of dropping from program”
• Instrument Goals
Goal-setting (what we know)
Morrow & Ackermann (2012)
• Cognitive = Thoughts
– Lower level cognitive domain: cite, count, list, name, define
– Higher level cognitive domain: select, compare, criticize,
• The impact of „thought processes’ on tangible goal-
– Question: Do you always begin a class with the MOST
challenging question possible?
• The impact of past experiences on goal-setting
What does it take to set realistic
Where does Susan Fall?
• Futuring is a systematic process for planning for the future
– Describe many different types of futures
– Develop or change culture
– Discover areas of opportunities (related to the mission statement)
– Create a common language
• Create a scenario whereby success occurs
Futuring (Yes; this is a word)
Turn this Into this
Reread Susan’s Case
Susan is a new student who is attending classes at Bryman College –
A for-profit organization. As a new enrollment to the school, Susan
repeatedly misses assignment deadlines and submits work late.
While in class, her instructor notices that Susan frequently avoids eye
contact with others and she excludes herself from group discussions.
Now, in her third week of a four week module, it doesn’t look
good. Susan has failed her mid-term exam. And now, the teacher is
concerned that some of Susan‟s behavior is an early indication of
what‟s about to come – another drop for the college; another failed
attempt. So, in an effort to address the problem, the teacher presents
what she knows of Susan to colleagues at the college. And, to her
surprise, several of the other staff members are dealing with a „Susan‟
of their own. What‟s even more unsettling – the College attrition rate
for newly enrolled students is extremely high.
Return to EduOs.net
case anchoring your
ideas to Goal-Setting
• Bobby, O. (2008). Applying Piaget's theory of cognitive development to mathematics instruction.
Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=e7f33571-263d-4dad-
• Chickering, A. W. (2006, May/June). Every student can learn - if... Retrieved from
• Davis, D. (2012). Introduction to student development theory [Web]. Retrieved from
• Encyclopedia of business: Futuring. (2012). Retrieved from
• Godet, M. and Roubelat, F. (1996) „Creating the future: the use and misuse of scenarios‟, Long
Range Planning, Vol. 29, No. 2, pp.164---171.
• Hadley, W. M. (2006). L.d. students' access to higher education: Self-advocacy and support.
Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=15944741-b8df-4f11-
• Knowles, M., Holton, E., & Swanson, R. (2005). The adult learner: the
definitive classic in adult education and human resource development.
(6th ed.). Burlington, MA: Elsevier.
• Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in
adulthood: A comprehensive guide. (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-
• Mietzner, D., & Reger, G. (2005). Advantages and disadvantages of
scenario approaches for strategic foresight. Int. J. Technology
Intelligence and Planning, 1(2), 220-239.
• Moorcraft, R. (2007). The art of the clairvoyant. Manger: The british journal
of administrative management, 4-5.
• Morrow, J. A., & Ackermann, M. E. (2012). Intention to persist and
retention of first-year students: The importance of motivation and
sense of belonging. College student journal, 46(3), 483-491.
• Sagor, R. (2011). The action research guidebook: a four-stage
process for educators and school teams. (2 ed.). Thousand Oak,
• Sandeen, A., & Barr, M. J. (2007). Critical issues for student affairs:
challenges and opportunities. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.