Youth STEM Motivation: Immersive Technologies to Engage and Empower Underrepresented Students
There is no learning without engagement, a situation that happens all too often in our typically lecture-based classrooms. At the same time, engagement without learning, which frequently happens in today’s digital worlds, is not a healthy alternative. Some claim that online gaming is one answer to engaging and motivating students in their academic work. Yet, students can frequently be engaged in these virtual worlds without actually learning anything or being more academically motivated.
In this white paper we describe a project underway at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education in which we are designing innovative technological environments that draw from theories of motivation to support and augment the engagement and motivation of students in Grades 5-8 mathematics. First, we outline Bandura’s (1986) social cognitive theory. Next, we describe facets of our project that utilize this theoretical framework. Finally, we describe areas for further research and pose questions with the hope that they stimulate productive discussion among the scientific and educational community.