Monday, January 5, 2009

Too long between posts...excuses, excuses

Alright, it is hard to admit, but it was entirely too long between my last post and this one. The dog ate my homework, my gym shorts, and my car keys. No really, this post is all about the excuses your students give you and how you can motivate them with simple contests and strategies. Believe it or not, simple, crazy promotions will often lead students to perform a desired behavior.

For PEP projects, it seems the Student Activity Level tracking (MVPA) that is required by the DoEd is the most difficult. I have seen some electronic solutions as well as solutions that require simple paper and a pencil. Whatever your budget and level of motivation, getting your students to recall and record that data is the challenge here.

Let me remind you of the five simple strategies we advocate to help motivate your PE students to complete a desired task:
  1. Make sure the behavior is easily measured. If you students are required to spend hours a week recording and reporting data, it won't happen. If you as the teacher or Project Director are required to spend hours a week compiling data, yep, you guessed it, your data will be raw for weeks. And you know what they say about raw data -- it starts to stink after a while.
  2. Group competition instead of individual competition. Make any competitions you conduct based on group performance instead of individual performance. Embed individual performance within the competition.
  3. Set clear criteria. Your students have to know how they are being judged. Without this information, they will undoubtedly throw in the towel before the end of the competition.
  4. Reward positive behavior. Enough said.
  5. Constantly remind and promote. Your students will need gentle and clear reminders of the expected outcomes. Make sure they know deadlines and are clear on what they are required to submit.

This post may seem like a rehash of the previous information and to a certain extent it is. But this topic is one of the most difficult issues that confront PE instructors. So tell me this -- what have you used in the past to motivate your students? What has been successful and what has failed?