Research 2017-09-19T22:02:46+00:00

Research

The role of self-determination theory and cognitive evaluation theory in home education

 Riley, Gina (2016)

 This article explores the theories of Self-Determination, Cognitive Evaluation, and Intrinsic Motivation as it applies to home education.

Cogent Education (2016), 3: 1163651 .

This article explores the theories of Self-Determination, Cognitive Evaluation, and Intrinsic Motivation as it applies to home education. According to Self-Determination Theory, intrinsic motivation is innate. However, the maintenance and enhancement of intrinsic motivation depends upon the social and environmental conditions surrounding the individual. Deci and Ryan’s Cognitive Evaluation Theory specifically addresses the social and environmental factors that facilitate versus undermine intrinsic motivation and points to three significant psychological needs that must be present in the individual in order to foster self-motivation. These needs are competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Because of curriculum and time constraints, intrinsic motivation may be difficult to facilitate within the traditional classroom. This loss of intrinsic motivation for learning prompts some parents to homeschool their children. One of the most impressive strengths of home education lies in the fact that in many cases, the entire process revolves around a child’s intrinsic motivation to learn. Subjects: Behavioral Sciences; Education; Humanities

Less-structured time in children’s daily lives predicts self-directed executive functioning

Barker JE, Semenov AD, Michaelson L, Provan LS, Snyder HR and Munakata Y (2014)

FrontierInPsychologyLess-structured time in children’s daily lives predicts self-directed executive functioning

Frontiers in Psychology. 5:593.

Executive functions (EFs) in childhood predict important life outcomes. Thus, there is great interest in attempts to improve EFs early in life. Many interventions are led by trained adults, including structured training activities in the lab, and less-structured activities implemented in schools. Such programs have yielded gains in children’s externally-driven executive functioning, where they are instructed on what goal-directed actions to carry out and when. However, it is less clear how children’s experiences relate to their development of self-directed executive functioning, where they must determine on their own what goal-directed actions to carry out and when. We hypothesized that time spent in less-structured activities would give children opportunities to practice self-directed executive functioning, and lead to benefits. To investigate this possibility, we collected information from parents about their 6–7 year-old children’s daily, annual, and typical schedules. We categorized children’s activities as “structured” or “less-structured” based on categorization schemes from prior studies on child leisure time use. We assessed children’s self-directed executive functioning using a well-established verbal fluency task, in which children generate members of a category and can decide on their own when to switch from one subcategory to another. The more time that children spent in less-structured activities, the better their self-directed executive functioning. The opposite was true of structured activities, which predicted poorer self-directed executive functioning. These relationships were robust (holding across increasingly strict classifications of structured and less-structured time) and specific (time use did not predict externally-driven executive functioning). We discuss implications, caveats, and ways in which potential interpretations can be distinguished in future work, to advance an understanding of this fundamental aspect of growing up.

Play, ADHD, and the construction of the social brain: should the first class of each day be recess?

Panksepp, Jaak (2008)

vol1-num1-summer-2008Social brain function development and our failure to provide adequate opportunities for natural play in modern societies.

American Journal of Play, 1 (1), 55-79.

Because of the role of play in the epigenetic construction of social brain functions, the young of all mammalian species need sufficient play. For the same reason, the nature of that play becomes an important social policy issue for early childhood development and education. Animal research on this topic indicates that play can facilitate the maturation of behavioral inhibition in growing animals, while psychostimulants reduce playfulness. Our failure to provide adequate opportunities for natural play in modern societies, the author argues, may have contributed to the steady growth in the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD) in children, which in turn has increased prescriptions of highly effective attention-promoting psychostimulants whose developmental effects on growing brains remain unclear. ˆThe author concludes that the incidence of ADHD—and hence the need for psychostimulant medications for growing children—may diminish if we create play sanctuaries for preschool children, where they could play naturally with each other, and thereby facilitate frontal lobe maturation and the healthy development of pro-social minds. Physical play should be part of the daily social diet of all children throughout grade school.

The Decline of Play and the Rise of Psychopathology in Children and Adolescents

Gray, Peter (2011)

Reduced ability to regulate emotions stemming from play deprivation, may well contribute to the high rates of psychopathology among young people today.
American Journal of Play, 3 (4), 443-463.

Over the past half century, in the United States and other developed nations, children’s free play with other children has declined sharply. Over the same period, anxiety, depression, suicide, feelings of helplessness, and narcissism have increased sharply in children, adolescents, and young adults. This article documents these historical changes and contends that the decline in play has contributed to the rise in the psychopathology of young people. Play functions as the major means by which children (1) develop intrinsic interests and competencies; (2) learn how to make decisions, solve problems, exert self-control, and follow rules; (3) learn to regulate their emotions; (4) make friends and learn to get along with others as equals; and (5) experience joy. Through all of these effects, play promotes mental health.

States of Curiosity Modulate Hippocampus-Dependent Learning via the Dopaminergic Circuit

Gruber, M. Gelman, B. & Ranganath (2014)

cov150hCuriosity and it’s importance.

Neuron, 84 (2), 486-496.

People find it easier to learn about topics that interest them, but little is known about the mechanisms by which intrinsic motivational states affect learning. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate how curiosity (intrinsic motivation to learn) influences memory. In both immediate and one-day-delayed memory tests, participants showed improved memory for information that they were curious about and for incidental material learned during states of high curiosity. Functional magnetic resonance imaging results revealed that activity in the midbrain and the nucleus accumbens was enhanced during states of high curiosity. Importantly, individual variability in curiosity-driven memory benefits for incidental material was supported by anticipatory activity in the midbrain and hippocampus and by functional connectivity between these regions. These find- ings suggest a link between the mechanisms supporting extrinsic reward motivation and intrinsic curiosity and highlight the importance of stimulating curiosity to create more effective learning experiences.