A lesson in engagement, motivation and active learning

Today I had an opportunity to live what I just learned during my readings for PIDP 3250.

Barkley (2010) noted that: “In our model of student engagement, motivation and active learning are twin helices that work synergistically ” (p 23). She goes on to identify 3 conditions that integrate these elements to promote increased level of engagement; creating a sense of community, helping students work at their optimal level of challenge, and helping students learn holistically (Barkley, 2010)

I must confess, I am by nature a very engaged and motivated student. I love a challenge, so when this opportunity to start a blog came with this course, I revved up my engines and took the plunge. Only I went in WAY over my head. Somehow I thought I needed to set up my blog on a local server. Ya, it wasn’t pretty. However, before jettisoning my computer off my deck and into the wilds of my back yard I stopped and did the next thing mothers of adult children do; they put in an emergency call to their sons and beg for help.

Unfortunately, even my chemical engineering son was reluctant to support my cause. “You sure you need to do this?” was the question I heard repeated over and over as he talked me through creating folders and linking it to my document root. After an hour he needed to go. The project was incomplete. I felt deflated and overwhelmed.

Condition 2: Teachers Can  Create Synergy by Helping Students Work at Their Optimal Level of Challenge (Barkley, 2010, p 27).

After, emailing our instructor, I learned that this was indeed unnecessary. Of course there is an online version. Sure, I still have to learn how to navigate this dashboard but I don’t require a computer program background.

Whew!  I am back in the saddle again.

What did I learn?

Even the most engaged student can become disengaged if the level of challenge is too high. I facilitate neonatal resuscitation workshops with a variety of health care professionals whose skills vary from novice to expert. I will ensure that I individualize learning for each participant so that it matches their skill level so they will feel the synergy of active learning and motivation.

Bring on the next adventure!!


Barkley, E. F. (2010). Student Engagement Techniques – A Handbook for College Faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

woman running toward a peak


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