Social and Cultural Processes in Educational Contexts
After determining that this group was primarily interested in understanding and disseminating knowledge about cultural influences on motivation, members of this strand created two subgroups focused on two problem areas. One group focused on methods of improving the dissemination of existing research on culture while a second group worked out a plan for securing new funding. Taking different routes, the dissemination group focused broadly on the strengths and limitations of different dissemination outlets while the future funding group focused more narrowly on the tasks needed to build a strong case for new funding. Both groups debated about multiple definitions of culture and social processes as they completed their tasks.
Considering existing research, dissemination goals included easy to accomplish blogs as a means of opening dialogue and seeking collaborators as well as more involved approaches to reviewing existing research. Movement to action included a call for culturally focused experts to write a blog series defining how the field of Educational Psychology incorporates culture into its theories and research. Scholars interested in the experiences of ethnic minorities would like to see specific blogs crafted around the questions of how group membership is represented in the academic literature, how Latin@s are welcomed into the changing demographics of the U.S., and ways in which measurement guidelines can be more inclusive of intra-group variance, especially when recognizing ethnic and social identity categories that are hard to change. Scholars interested in understanding the stability and fluidity of sociocultural categories would like to see blogs that outline tensions between sociological and psychological classifications as these influence individuals’ self-selection over time. Moving toward a literature review, participants would like to see how concepts such as “social influence” can be defined in ways that can be systematically studied as well as how individuals and groups influence one another.
New Funding Subgroup
Looking toward the future, individuals working on obtaining new funding also identified important needs of children and families. Although motivation is presumed to be an important factor in learning and achievement, there is no intervention research on motivational literacy – that is, how children understand motivation and what they can do to improve it. Consistent with a broad movement to build online intervention portals, this team identified key aspects of successful intervention. The proposed project directly targets students and will be based on multiple theories of motivation as these address the diverse needs of learners. The use of an online portal will enable the program to be more sustainable even after the conclusion of the funding cycle. The portal would consist of tasks in three phases. First, in the assessment phase, each volunteer will fill out a diagnostic assessment necessary to identify unique motivational challenges that he/she faces. Next, based on the diagnostic assessment, volunteers would receive feedback on various aspects of their motivation. Finally, through multi-media enhanced activities, volunteers would receive training on how to enhance their motivational literacy. Each step would be informed by essential literacies derived from the major theories of motivation.
The dissemination subgroup would like to see a call for volunteers to write specific blog entries that might be included with the Psychology Today contributions and/or as a separate part of the Division 15 Website. Ideally, the latter would be crafted to allow individuals to volunteer for future projects related to these themes.
The future funding subgroup would like to recruit Div. 15 members who are willing to participate in the development of an online intervention for improving motivational literacy of students. Specifically, we need volunteers with deep levels of expertise in working with the various theories of motivation, strong commitment in developing applications of theories, and keen awareness of how each theory has addressed cultural themes.
Mary Beth Arcidiacono