Over at 3 Star Learning Experiences, Kirschner and Neelan are skeptical about research into academic motivation.
In essence, they argue that defining motivation can be quite a trick, and measuring it even more so. If we struggle to define and measure something, it’s hard to be scientifically thoughtful (and accurate) about it.
As a result, we tend to discuss vague things like “student engagement”: it sounds good (who could be opposed to “student engagement”?), but it’s hard to know if behavior that looks like “engagement” reliably promotes learning.
I share much of their concern about this part of our field. In fact, I find Dweck’s work on Mindset, and Steele’s work on Stereotype Threat, so interesting because they have found motivational topics that can be both defined and measured.
Like Kirschner and Neelen, I’ll be more motivated to explore this field when more of it can cross these essential thresholds.