Use Relevance and Emotion to Intensify Attention and Learning

There are many “moving parts” involved in creating lessons and modules that increase the likelihood that your students will learn the important content and skills you will acquire. But there are several teaching methods that serve as focus and programming accelerators, so you should always make a concerted effort to incorporate these tools into your lessons. Two of the best are relevance and emotion.

Link relevance/motivation

Why should you spend some of your precious time planning, emphasizing the relevance of your lessons? Let me tell you about a small experience that I had several times as an education consultant while attending school. Enter your regular class, sit next to the student, lean forward and ask, “Why are you learning this particular material?” and you’ll probably get a blank stare and an answer like, “Because that’s what the professor said we’re going to study.” Click on this point, asking, “But why? What are you going to do with that information?” and you’ll probably just shrug your shoulders and get the answer”I don’t know. This is reassuring and disappointing.

I suspect that if you asked students all over the place such questions, in 95% or more of the cases you would get the answers I’ve described here. School-age students spend about eight hours a day in school for up to 20 years of their lives, and they usually don’t know why! This should be very disturbing to any teacher, but no one seems to talk about it much. It seems that at least some teachers and their students have made a pact: “I won’t tell you why you’re here if you don’t ask me.”

This is a sad situation for several reasons. First of all, one of the most frequent complaints I hear from teachers is that their students are ‘demotivated’ (these statements are usually preceded by a phrase like ‘these kids today… ‘and sometimes they turn into complete rants).’ However, perhaps the most powerful motivator of all is the relevant and interesting program that students really want to study, and the choice of holding it is entirely in the hands of teachers (or at least in the hands of the committee.

Relevance – more than just motivation

Another reason why relevance is so important is that it is one of the most important factors influencing academic performance. To explain why this is the case, I will refer to the important distinction that David Souza speaks about in his excellent book How the Brain Learns.. In this book, he shows a graph obtained by the interaction of two questions: “Is there a sense?” and “Is there any sense?”

Another way to ask if feelings are present is to ask (this from the student’s point of view): “Can I understand?” If these questions are answered “yes,” that’s certainly a good thing.

Another way to ask, does it make sense to ask, “Is this important to me?” or “I want to know more about this?” Again, if students can answer “yes” to these questions, that’s fine.

If the meaning and meaning are present (i.e. if the information is important to me and understandable), then, of course, this is an ideal situation for learning, and academic performance will be high. If there is no sense or sense (I don’t care, and I still don’t understand), then, of course, I learn very little.

But I’m really interested in two other possibilities. First, what about situations where students want to learn the material – they are motivated because they think the material is relevant – but they don’t fully understand it or for some reason it’s difficult (the material doesn’t match the level of development and is taught in the wrong place in the curriculum, or maybe teaching is just not as clear as it should be). In other words, there is a sense, but there is no sense.

In such a situation, student performance will be low, but they will not be able to achieve the desired highest level of achievement, unless there is any benefit from it. The reason is clear. No matter how much I want to learn, if I don’t fully understand it, I’m losing.

The importance of framing relevance

So, the first step to giving students a convincing “why” to study is to “define” relevance. In other words, we need to explain carefully or better show students why the content of each lesson we teach matters to them. If we don’t, students will understand the material and remember it long enough to test it (toss), but if they don’t see the point in the material, it’s very unlikely that they’ll keep it. a lot of working memory, long-term memory.

The question arises: do you always spend time creating a “relevancy framework” in your lessons? Do your students see how important or interesting the information or skills you are going to teach should be?

In How the Brain Learns, Souza writes, “Teachers spend about 90% of their time planning lessons so that students understand the purpose of learning (i.e. understand it). But to convince the student’s brain to achieve this goal. teachers need to be more knowledgeable to help students find meaning” (p. 50).

Don’t act like the teachers Souza describes here. Don’t spend 90% of your time planning trying to figure out how to teach material to make sense. You should make sure that the students understand what you are teaching. But balance your planning time a little bit and spend a little more time making sure your students see the urgency of what you plan to teach. When they see the relevance, they will be more present and eventually learn more.

Using emotional leads

The second “attention and programming amplifier” I want to talk about today is emotion.

Relevance and emotions often go hand in hand. When we see the urgency of what we are taught, we become more interested in it and start to worry a little. And it turns out that this increased arousal helps us to absorb the material more easily. Recent studies have shown that increasing the level of adrenaline in the system, which occurs when we are emotionally involved in learning, actually helps the brain to form new long-term memories.

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