Re: Self-Determination theory versus SCT and AT

From: Jim Rogers (
Date: Mon Feb 07 2005 - 10:36:58 PST

hi rodrigo,

I'm working through similar issues in my research in on-line classes.
What I will share with you is based on weekly interviews I conducted
with 5 students in an on-line class. I am still in the "figuring out
what all this means" stage which the more work with the ideas, the more
I realize that this might simply be an endless iterative stage ;)... but
still the dissertation must be handed in at some point

>It seems to me that quite often what happens in e-learning is that the
>learner is essentially working by himself, of course situated in a
>specific learning context, culture, probably with other learners or at
>least a facilitator, etc, but in the absence of a "campus" or classroom
>other contexts such as work, family, personal needs, etc. could affect
>how learners self regulate their learning more than in a face to face
>environment... In fact those that choose online learning probably do it
>because that personal context does not allow him to learn in a face to
>face environment.

I have found similar issues in my own work. But rather than look at the
issues from a 'motivation/goal' standpoint- which to me almost seems
'external' to the individual, i.e. yes there are goals (or possibly in
terms of CHAT thought- motive hierarchies- see leontiev and chaiklin's
more recent article on personality) but how are they formed and how do
they become part of the individual? Rather, the way I have been looking
at it is through the lens of identity and agency, e.g. Who are these
students who participate in our classes and how do they develop into the
students they are? Of course this is the basis of developmental psych
(look at Scribner's article on Vygotsky's use of history as an excellent
overview). What I am beginning to see is that the students in my class
did come in motivated to learn and excited to take the online class but
over the course of the semester they sort of fell back on their identity
as undergraduate students, which in turn mediated their activity.

I'll give a couple of examples here to help clarify. This identity was
based partly on how they saw their selves in the classroom (and how they
saw the role of the teacher)- for example, they felt it was not their
role to comment critically on others' work or ideas and that others
might think 'who the heck are you to be saying such things'. You can
see that this would severly limit participation in the class (consider
this in contrast to a group of teachers I had set up an online workshop
for a few years back who far exceeded the participation requirements
that I had set out. They saw their role and mine as the teacher
completely differently and acted as such. In fact it wasn't until, I
had to be gone for a week that the participants actually took control of
the class... but that's another story). Another issue was related to
how the students viewed the class- which was a required undergraduate
writing class. They categorized this class as one of the many required
classes which often consisted of a lot of 'jumping through the hoops' to
complete (interesting that 4 of the 5 students mentioned the term
'jumping through the hoops'). Again, if the students viewed the class
activities as such they would be less 'motivated' to do them.

What I found was that these ideas- which mediated their activity- had
formed both in the university and before in high school and had become
part of their identity as a student over time. Now of course, the
interesting question would be to see if they held a similar identity in
one of their major classes (and from my interviews I had the inkling
they did) but that is someone else's dissertation.

If this sounds interesting to you, I would look to Dorothy Holland's
work (Identity and Agency in Cultural Worlds) for an excellent overiew
which has a good combinateion of theory and examples. I am working on a
manuscript with a CSCL slant that might be readable in a couple of weeks
and I would be happy to pass that along.

what do you think???

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