There are few more powerful teaching and learning tools than working with a student’s emotions and motivation in learning. The key is setting goals that are realistic and achievable.
Checkpoint 9.1 of the Universal Design for Learning framework by CAST makes salient the goal to harness the power of emotions and motivation in learning to support our learners to self-regulate.
CAST states, “The ability to self-regulate—to strategically modulate one’s emotional reactions or states in order to be more effective at coping and engaging with the environment—is a critical aspect of human development.”
This checkpoint is about a learner setting goals that are realistically achievable. This is in addition to the learner developing positivity in their mindset that they will achieve set goals.
Teachers that promote expectations and beliefs that optimise motivation support their students in this domain. Strategies include:
- regular opportunities for documenting strengths
- recording goals and reflecting on progress
- increasing on-task time and action towards the goal
- promoting self-regulation in the face of adversity in working towards a goal
- modelling or providing a mentor to develop strengths and mitigate challenges
Guiding students in the creation of a personal vision board is a highly engaging activity that works towards this checkpoint. Similar to a mood board that captures the desired colours, textures and objects in a dream room or home, a vision board is a visual representation that captures a student’s strengths, weaknesses and goals.
Being a student-driven activity, the students themselves identify their strengths, challenges and goals. This promotes agency and ownership over their goals, potentially increasing intrinsic motivation.
First, guide students through the activity, providing a framework. For example, are the goals to be academic or social? Then brainstorm and model example strengths and challenges. Provide opportunities for exploring and identifying individual qualities. Finally, explicitly teach goal-setting processes.
Once a student completes the background work, they can express their reflections and goals visually. Using, for example, illustrations, words, magazine cut-outs, photos, and emojis, students creatively express themselves.
Use the vision boards for regular check-ins and reflection on progress.
There are more practical suggestions on reducing barriers to learning on the CUDA website.