“We cannot control or create motivation in classrooms, but we do have tremendous influence over it,” said, Prof. Teresa Balser, Fulbright Distinguished Chair, Dean (Teaching & Learning), Faculty of Science and Engineering, Curtin University, Australia. She was delivering a lecture on “Motivation in the Modern Classroom,” at the ICFAI University Campus here in Hyderabad.
Speaking to a packed audience of faculty members, doctoral scholars, students and staff, Prof. Balser said that as a Fulbright scholar she has learnt a lot about education in her host countries, and everywhere she found that the teachers, especially in the field of higher education, found it a challenge to bring in excitement and motivation into their classrooms. While the teachers expect students to attend classes, study, ask questions, participate and pay attention in the class, students, though highly motivated to learn, do not seem to be convinced that the classroom is the best place to learn.
Speaking about the existing education system, Prof Balser said that it was oriented towards the industrial age and is not aligned to the needs of the current era. Citing renowned educationist Sir Ken Robinson, she said that education today seems to kill the ability of our children to indulge in divergent thinking as the systems are oriented towards commoditization and standardization, with a factory-like approach and production in batches. Prof. Balser saidIt isnecessary to create learning environments that engage students and provide them opportunities to learn. To improve motivation, attention has to be paid to space, people and delivery method, in addition to content, she added. Her advice to teachers is to be excited and enthusiastic in the classroom, especially as that is one thing which is in their control.
Prof Balser also talked about using gamification for education and balancing experience with challenges. She was of the view that to create an enthusiastic and engaging class, it is necessary for teachers to consider students as individuals with varied interests. She said students should be given the opportunity to design their own assignments, mentor one another and co-design the syllabus, as this would make them more involved. In her opinion, often the problem is not of motivation in modern classrooms, but of poor design.
Prof. J. Mahender Reddy, the Vice Chancellor of the ICFAI Foundation for Higher Education (IFHE) presided over the session. In his address, he spoke about how the modern classrooms with their distracted students pose challenges to even the most experienced teachers. He also briefly explained how the University has designed its programs to develop communication skills, reasoning ability and critical thinking among its students.
The IFHE is a Deemed to be University under Section 3 of the UGC Act, 1956, having close to four thousand students pursuing various programs in the Faculty of Management (IBS Hyderabad), Faculty of Science & Technology, and Faculty of Law. The Directors, Deans, Heads of the Departments, and other members of the Academic and Administrative leadership of the University attended the lecture. The lecture was also webcasted liveto audiences in 16 other ICFAI campuses across the country.