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Reflections about Connections

Motivating Students

Reflections about Connections

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Emily Gravett writes insightfully about the disconnect between instructor and student course goals. She's writing about religion courses and how academic goals, such as “analyzing the historical, cultural, linguistic, literary, political and social contexts of religious beliefs and practices” are not the goals that motivate students to take religion courses. Their goals are more personal and often involve big questions such as, “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “What is truth and how can I know it?” Instructors (not just those who teach religion) are trained to deal with content objectively, rationally, and to approach subject matter with reason and logic. Students need to learn these ways of rational thinking, but what motivates them in all kinds of courses is how that content is relevant to them—how it connects with what's happening in their lives. Gravett points out that we are doing the discipline and our students a disservice “if we do not attend to (or, worse, if we actively avoid) what we know motivates students to learn.” (p. 21)

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