Reading In Action

Author: lucwriteubc

Chapter 7: Motivating

In the spirit of this chapter, I want to start off with a story and a question. In one of my graduate courses in Adult Education one of our professors took us on a field trip to visit the WISH Foundation, an organization that that “works to improve the self, safety and well-being of women who are involved in Vancouver’s street based sex trade.” For me this experience connected adult education in the community with social justice and helped me understand why adult learning mattered. This one moment helped motivate me for the remainder of my program.  This example connects with how Lang looks at motivation, in particular his discussion of the importance of “self-transcendent purpose.” In this post I will focus on the role of purpose in motivating students.

Take a few minutes now, think about and share a significant experience in your learning that motivated you? What was the experience? What impact did it have on your studies? To what extent  does it fit with how Lang connects emotion, purpose and motivation?

Emotion and Motivation

In this chapter Lang focuses on the role of emotion in motivation. At the outset of this chapter he suggests that this focus on emotion is complimentary to research on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and that the reader should, “Consider emotions as a motivating force that have the power to drive both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated learners in the right circumstances.” (Lang, 2016, p. 104) He describes three key elements of research on emotions:

  1. Emotions can help capture the attention of our students
  2. Infuse learning with purpose, especially self-transcendent purpose
  3. Emotions are social and that by connecting students


The idea of infusing our learning with a sense of self-transcendent purpose really resonated with me as a teacher and a learner. In my own experience when learning activities  are connected with changing the world in a positive way, it can be incredibly motivating for learners. One example of have seen of this is action is courses or programs that have students create or edit articles for Wikipedia in-order to improve coverage in areas such as female artists, Canadian female scientists and indigenous authors. It is incredible to see how motivated students often become when completing assignments assignments that are so strongly liked with the public good.  In addition, to transcendent purpose,  Lang suggests a number of different ways of ensuring our classes are purposeful including

  • Mentioning the purpose behind different assignments and approaches we take in our courses
  • Reminding yourself of why your discipline does matter and including this in assignments, syllabus etc.

Enthusiasm, Social Connection, Compassion

In this post I have mostly focused on purpose and emotion. Lang also shares ways that the teacher can increase motivation by enthusiastic, fostering social connection and showing compassion. The approaches included the following:

  • Share your enthusiasm for the subject or topic
  • Tell great stories or even frame your lesson with a story or big question
  • Connect with students and find ways to make help them connect with each other
  • Show compassion towards students


What are some ways that you infuse your classes  with a sense of self-transcendent purpose? How can we balance compassion with fairness in the classroom? Is Lang’s approach to motivation sufficient to increase motivation in our classrooms?

Please discuss in this week’s forum: Chp. 7: Motivating and join us for the live web conference meetup on Friday, November 1st at 11:00am.
See How to Participate.

Follow Up

I wanted to follow-up the virtual session with my slides and a resources about Digital Hubs that Laura shared with us

Digital Hubs to support social learning

Virtual Discussion Slides

Second Meeting of the BCcampus Book Club

Hello Everyone,

The second meeting of the BCcampus Book Club will be tomorrow, Friday September 21st at 10 AM PST.

Please connect a few minutes earlier to check your technical setup (especially your audio connection). Information about Blue Jeans web conferencing and the link to our dedicated room is provided here.

Here are a few questions to help us get started in our Chapter One discussion.

  • What are your some of your overall takeaways from this chapter?
  • What strategies do you currently use your course or when developing courses to help students understand and develop appropriate knowledge organizations?
  • What did this chapter not touch on for you? What areas were missing or you have questions about?
  • What are some ways that you are considering emphasizing knowledge organization in your practice?

Looking forward to discussing the chapter with all of you!

Lucas Wright, Chapter Two Facilitator


Chapter Two: How Does the Way Students Organize Knowledge Affect Their Learning?

Principle: How students organize knowledge influences how
they learn and apply what they know.



How long does it take you to solve a Rubik’s cube? What knowledge organizations allow an expert to solve a Rubik’s cube in 5.5 seconds? I cannot solve a Rubik’s cube and was amazed at the complex knowledge organizations that Rubik’s cube experts use. What really jumped out for me when reflecting on this chapter was the complex knowledge organizations we have for many tasks even beyond complex domains. 


In Chapter Two of How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching Ambrose et al, look at how experts create and maintain complex and meaningful ways of organizing knowledge. This aids them in memory retrieval and understanding the complex knowledge of their domain. In contrast, students often have “not yet developed such complex and or meaningful ways of organizing the content they encounter in the course” (Ambrose et al. 2010, p.46). The authors then focus in on research about how knowledge is formed and outline ways that experts’ and novices’ knowledge organizations differ.

So What

The authors suggest that instructors need to be aware of the different knowledge organizations between novices and experts in their discipline/domain when they design tasks. They also suggest a number of ways that instructors can “provide structures that highlight to our students how we organize disciplinary knowledge and draw on it to perform specific tasks” (Ambrose et al. 2010, p.46). Strategies that they suggest include, using concept maps with students, graphic organizers and making connections between concepts explicit.

Now What

To reflect on this chapter and prepare for the upcoming book club meeting you may wish to complete the following: 

  1. Reflect on the implications of knowledge organization to your own practice or your overall reaction to this chapter by commenting below.
  2. Use a concept mapping tool such as  or to share a map of a single concept within your discipline or an area of interest.

To encourage participation, those who share a comment/post this week will have their name entered into the Chapter Two draw for a $25 CAD gift certificate for Chapters Indigo. Read the contest guidelines here. Good luck!

The Book Club chat on Chapter Two will take place on Friday, September 21st at 10 AM PST.  Check out the schedule and how to connect with the group. We also invite you to say hello in the Comments section of our Intro post.