The power of an audience


that's an audience!

My students have just completed a web-based “wiki” project using their blogs. They generated and researched a guiding question of their choice that related to the overall project driving question, “How do we reconcile science and personal beliefs?

Students in my class are not motivated by grades. I do not grade them; they grade themselves. Yet, they have worked very hard on each of our major projects this year.

Why? There are several reasons: choice, inquiry, engaging content, etc. All are important. When you are working on a project, deadlines are a big concern. When you are not grading your students, you can’t use the threat of lowered grades for late work. ┬áPeople ask me all the time, “how do you get kids to complete work by deadlines?” I have one answer:

An audience.

In the first 9th grade project of the year (integrated between biology, English and World History), the students ┬ápresented a poster to friends and family. The driving question was, “what determines who I become?” We had an unprecedented completion rate of virtually 100%. Historically, at our school, I have seen completion rates more in the neighborhood of two thirds; never 100%. Not on any major assignment or project.

Why are students so motivated to complete their project on time and with quality?

Because of the audience!

Our current 9th grade project (again, integrated between biology, English and World History) has been published to a worldwide internet audience. Students have received comments from all over the U.S. and beyond (India!). They were excited and nervous for the day that we “went live” with the project. They were motivated to do their best work because of the audience.

No amount of pushing, wheedling, cajoling, or threatening could motivate students like an audience!

Photo used under creative commons license from the Flickr stream of EricMagnuson

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