Pedagogical strategies in non-formal and informal contexts to foster creativity and motivation of young people
Nowadays, studies on motivation and academic performance are usually based on cognitive-social theories, focusing on the learning environment and the situation in which it develops. Therefore, this module is approached from an ecological perspective: learners construct new knowledge through their interaction with the environment.
The following sections outline some basic concepts and propose pedagogical strategies that can be used to understand and improve teaching practice. Creativity, Emotions and Motivation.
The positive interaction and convergence between these three dimensions facilitate the design of a suitable environment where students are involved and, therefore, learn more and better.
“Creativity is innate”: although we can find more creative people and less creative people, creativity is a skill that can be developed and improved in all senses. It is not an innate talent, in the same way that to excel in certain disciplines (such as basketball or mathematics) it is not enough to possess certain predisposed skills, but rather constant training is necessary.
“Creativity = Intelligence”: these two concepts are often related in everyday conversations, and even confused with each other. Possessing certain levels of intelligence does not imply special skills in creative thinking; this will depend more on acquiring and practising the necessary techniques. Similarly, a person with a high level of creativity does not necessarily excel in other areas. Creative energy, therefore, does not require genius or high intelligence: it comes from imagination, which all human beings possess.
“Creativity = Originality”: Originality can be treated as one of the elements that make up creative thinking, but this does not make it an indispensable criterion, let alone a sufficient one. In fact, we cannot treat originality as an instant product, but rather as a constantly modified design of our creations.
“Creativity = Craziness”: Sometimes it may seem, as in the case of the creative technique commonly known as brainstorming, that creativity is based on coming up with a bunch of chaotic ideas in the hope that one of them will be useful and successful. And although in various contexts creative thinking may be characterised by audacity and transgression, it requires a great deal of effort and commitment, as well as good sense in order to make the right decisions.
2. Emotions in the learning process
Emotional intelligence is a set of skills involved in self-control, persistence and the ability to motivate oneself. Moreover, with good use of this intelligence, we can control our emotions, maintain an empathetic attitude, tolerate pressure, overcome frustration and work in a team. We consider these abilities basic and indispensable to achieve adequate personal development.
Looking through this prism, in academia, we can identify a large number of situations in which emotional factors play a major role. Without going any further, what makes a student feel completely interested or absolutely bored with respect to an assignment is his or her emotional state. How the student feels about what he or she is going to do or learn is what will determine the degree of activation of the student and thus his or her performance on the task.
How do affective factors affect learning?
Students need to be willing to test intuitions and take reasonable risks of making mistakes. Sharp criticism and humiliating words can severely weaken the ego, and the weaker the ego, the higher the inhibition. We should take into account the most appropriate principles for error correction in a given situation.
Extroversion / Introversion
Sometimes an erroneous relationship is made between inhibition and introversion. Extroverts are typified as sociable, talkative persons who are better learners, as they are more likely to participate in class and look for new opportunities. Introverts, consequently, could be considered less gifted at learning, as they are very reserved and overly self-controlled. It is a priority task for teachers to break down these stigmatic barriers and clarify these concepts.
Relates to a person’s evaluation of his or her own value. It is a fundamental prerequisite for successful cognitive and affective activities because we derive our notions of self-value from our internal experiences and our relationship with the external world.
Empathy is the process of “putting oneself in another person’s shoes”. One does not have to give up one’s own way of feeling or understanding, or even agreeing with the position of others. It is simply a matter of appreciating the identity of another individual or another culture.
The affective dimension of the relationships between the student, the teacher and the other students can greatly influence the orientation and outcome of the experience.
We can establish three modalities (John Heron, 1989).
The teacher is the main decision-maker in the learning process.
The teacher shares some power and decisions with the group and guides the learners to be in charge of their own learning.
The teacher allows learners to work on their own, without his or her intervention. It should be noted that this does not imply abandoning the responsibilities as a teacher.
When individuals are exposed to another culture, significant emotional distress can occur. The acquisition of new knowledge can be affected by culture shock, which could be defined as anxiety due to the disorientation created by contact with a new culture.
Motivation is understood as the basic, adaptive psychological process that energises, directs and maintains behaviour towards a goal. It is therefore a hypothetical construct that is not directly observable and must be inferred through the analysis of behaviour.
In the field of behavioural science, motivation is studied with the aim of explaining how and why a change in activity occurs. It helps us to identify the different moments in a person’s behaviour: the initiation of an activity, the maintenance of an ongoing task, the direction the behaviour takes, the intensity with which an action is performed and its completion.
We believe that with an increasing understanding of the mechanisms underlying motivated behaviour in the classroom, we will be able to develop strategies to increase students’ motivation.
4. Motivation for
learning and teaching
Self-determination theory (Deci and Ryan, 2002) argues that humans need to feel competent and capable in interactions, to have choices, to have a sense of control over our lives, and to be connected to others. If we look at this, it is very much in line with the three acquired motives discussed above: achievement, affiliation and power. It is common to relate certain emotions to intrinsic motivation, mostly positive emotions. Thus, it follows from this theory that when a person is internally motivated, feelings linked to self-determination needs usually appear:
- Autonomy: the need to have one’s desires determine one’s actions, not external rewards or pressures.
- Competence: the feeling of being in control of what one does and perceiving one’s own abilities
- Relationship: the desire to establish close emotional bonds with others.
A classroom environment that fosters self-determination is associated with higher levels of interest and curiosity, feelings of competence, creativity, participation and psychological well-being. When a student feels that he or she has the authority to make decisions, he or she is more likely to believe that the task is important, thus internalising the educational goal and making it his or her own.
→ Allow your students to make decisions and encourage them to do so.
- Design several ways to cover a learning objective and allow students to choose one. Encourage them to reason their decision.
- Organise meetings with the students to make suggestions.
- Allow time for independent projects.
- Allow them to choose who they want to work with (as long as they concentrate on the task).
→ Help them to plan actions to achieve their own goals.
- Desk cards: pupils draw up a list of their goals and then add some specific actions to get closer to them.
- Encourage them to set goals for each subject and write them down in a ‘goal notebook’.
→ Remind them of the consequences of their choices.
- If students have chosen to work with friends and have not finished a project because they have been socialising for too long, grade them fairly and explain the connection between losing time and poor performance.
- When students choose a topic that excites their imagination, talk to them about the relationship between engaging in the work and the quality of the resulting product.
→ Provide a justification for constraints and rules.
- Give reasons for the existence of the rules.
- Respect the rules by setting an example with your behaviour.
→ Acknowledges that negative emotions are valid.
- Tell them that it is OK and normal to feel bored while waiting for a turn.
- Explain that sometimes learning involves frustration, confusion and tiredness.
- Acknowledge the learner’s point of view: “Yes, this problem is difficult”, “I understand why you feel like this”…
→ Use positive, non-controlling feedback.
- Treats misbehaviour and underachievement as a problem to be solved and not as a reason for criticism.
Avoid using controlling language: “you must”, “you are obliged”, “you have to”…
Motivation to learn is defined as the student tendency to find academic activities meaningful and worthwhile and to try to obtain the expected academic benefits from them (Brophy, 1988). This type of motivation, in addition to the desire to learn, includes the quality of the learner’s cognitive efforts.
Example: If a learner reads a text ten times, it indicates persistence. But motivation to learn requires more active and reflective strategies: summarising, outlining, making graphics, expanding information…
In this sense, the teacher should consider three main goals:
- To actively engage students in the class, to attract their interest and to create a “state of motivation to learn”.
- To develop in the students’ long-lasting individual interests and the “trait of being motivated to learn”.
- To effectively engage learners on a cognitive level, i.e., to think deeply about what they are studying.
Many factors interact and contribute to motivation to learn. The following table shows how extrinsic and intrinsic motivations, attributions, goals, beliefs, self-perceptions, interests, curiosity and emotions play an influential role in learning motivation when they are combined:
SOURCE OF MOTIVATION
OPTIMAL CHARACTERISTICS FOR LEARNING
CHARACTERISTICS THAT DECREASE MOTIVATION
Type of goal set
INTRINSIC: Personal factors such as needs, interests, curiosity and enjoyment.
EXTRINSIC: Environmental factors such as rewards, social pressure and punishment.
Type of involvement
LEARNING GOAL: Personal satisfaction in meeting challenges and improving; tendency to choose goals and challenges of moderate difficulty.
TASK FOCUSED: Interest in mastering the task.
PERFORMANCE GOAL: Desire for approval by others of our performance; tendency to choose goals that are too easy or too difficult.
SELF-CENTRED: Interest in the self as seen by others.
Motivation for achievement
ACHIEVEMENT Motivation: Orientation to proficiency.
Motivation to AVOID FAILURE: Tendency to anxiety.
Successes and failures are attributed to CONTROLLABLE effort and ability.
Successes and failures are attributed to UNCONTROLLABLE causes.
Beliefs about capacity
DYNAMIC PERSPECTIVE: Belief that capacity can improve with practice and add to broader knowledge and skills.
STATIC PERSPECTIVE: Belief that capacity is a stable and uncontrollable feature.
Objective: to encourage students to develop a commercial and creative sense by presenting a product that is useful in everyday life and that can become an object of consumption and economic massification to generate some kind of profit.
Resources: crystal glycerine, colouring, essences, cardboard and markers for advertising and other materials according to the product being offered.
Development: this activity can be carried out individually or in groups as long as the students have a clear purpose for the new product they want to offer. Some of the materials are proposed for making soap, but the idea is that the scent is a different smell such as strawberry, cherry, etc.
The most interesting thing is to give the students the possibility to explain to what extent their product is innovative and creative and at the same time, it can be mass-produced.