Part 8 of a series on motivation.
PEPPER is, as you might have guessed, an acronym. Here is an overview.
Get the learner ready and motivated. Help them to understand the scope, purpose and likely demands of the task in hand. Fit the subject matter into the framework of their existing knowledge. Establish rapport by using a theme that is related to the learner’s needs, interests and experiences. Be sensitive to the constraints of the physical environment for learning and of other realities such as time and competing priorities.
Make it fun, exciting and meaningful. Present lesson objectives together with a statement of why it is important to the learner. Acknowledge the learner’s frame of mind and take steps to reassure them and overcome possible inhibitions.
Offer information through the most appropriate blend of face-to-face, page, audio or screen. Stimulate interaction through questions and activities. Style, impact, method and medium is as important as content and structure.
Allow opportunities to practice both in the context of the learning and in the real world, so the learner can gauge their developing mastery through assessments of competence.
Ensure all reinforcement is positive by associating effort and achievement with positive consequences. Match feedback, reward and recognition to the style, preferences and personality of the learner, but above all make it error-contingent when it is associated with soft skills such as decision-making and problem-solving through scenario-based learning.
Check the acquisition of knowledge and skills necessary for competency. Identify gaps and project backwards to content covered and forwards to what to learn next.
In The Zone
When athletes are in the mood and condition to achieve their personal best they are said to be “in the zone.” We can recognise a similar state in learners. Our goal should be to prepare them so that they are aroused sufficient to “enter the zone” for their learning. We need the task to be learned to be more pressing than those stressors that might get in the way. We may have to help the learner overcome self-consciousness, or fear of failure. A strong desire to succeed must be linked with desirable emotional responses such as happiness, mastery, success and self-worth. The learner must feel secure and confident that the learning channels will adapt to their personal and changing needs. They can clearly envision the benefits of mastering the task to be learned, and they can associate it with future success in some aspect of their personal or professional endeavours. They feel as though they are in in control of their learning environment, rather than vice versa. The learner “in the zone” is driven more because they want to learn rather than because they want to obtain reward or avoid punishment. First impressions are crucial. Particular responses appeal more to some personailities than others.
Here are some of the comments I’ve collected down the years from individuals expressing satisfaction at some aspect of their learning experience.
- Something that talks my language
- I get an increment just for completing this?
- It only takes 10 minutes?
- Someone finally asked me what I think
- They’ve been listening
- Just like us
- That’s clever
- What a great idea
- It’s just like the real thing
- How do they do that?
- A certificate!
- I can still remember that after all these years
- Isn’t that our Betty in the photograph?
- This will make a difference to my figures
- Made me smile
- My picture in the bulletin?
- You mean I get to keep it?
- Did I just do that?
I really don’t mind what people say as long as there is an association with some pleasurable reaction to engagement with the learning.
In Part 9, we’ll take a look at boredom.