Recently, we have witnessed an increased interest in applying the theories, constructs, and methods of basic motivational research to design instructional materials and activities to motivate students’ learning and to improve educational outcomes. Although this instructional research is only in its infancy, it shows promise as an influence on student performance and as a supplement to other interventions and reform, such as those that target teacher recruitment and training, school structure, and curriculum. EPIC’s research projects investigate what it takes to design instruction that motivates students’ learning and performance in schools. We conducted a series of classroom-based experiments with random assignments of students to different instructional conditions using various forms of technologies and media and assessed learning outcomes produced by these conditions. For instance, we have studied how the integration of scientists’ personal struggle stories with instruction on scientific facts impact students’ STEM learning. We also used contrasting cases, comparing examples of good and poor working students, in our instruction to help students better assess their need to learn and improve. We are thoughtfully and painstakingly trying to understand instructional processes and craft interventions based on theory and research in the field of motivation.
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