Can UX design re-engage learners?
As students move through the K-12 education system, they become less and less engaged.
I think everyone can agree that this is probably not a good thing, right?
Although this information is not new nor very surprising, the trend continues. We recognize the problem. We attempt numerous solutions. But have we properly identified the cause?
“People still need to have a reason or motivation to learn”
Research about motivation and UX principles provide some interesting areas to explore:
- Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation
- Minimize Friction
- Decrease the “Time to Value” Ratio
Is our learning and behavior less authentic or meaningful if it is motivated by intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation? As students move through school, more emphasis is placed on grades and tests scores. Although it is rewarding to do well on tests and report cards, do these metrics provide an appropriate return on investment for students. What if a letter or a number just does not cut it when it comes to feeling fulfilled after months of hard work and dedication?
As learners proceed through school, they counter increasing amounts of ‘friction’ due to the design of the education system. It is not simply that the content is more challenging but rather the environment in which learning is supposed to occur contains additional challenges. Students go from having 1 teacher with 1 set of rules and procedures to 5+ with their own unique expectations and styles. There are increasingly more complex schedules to remember and bells ringing at weird times. Separate due dates. Separate assignments. Separate grades. More friction.
Learning for the sake of learning is a tough sell. As kids move through school more of the focus becomes getting into college and pursuing the path to a career. That ultimate goal is a long way off. If you are 14, sustaining the drive for something that might payout at 22 is a huge ask. That is a lot of time to commit and at a young age for a value proposition that is not even guaranteed. We all want more value for the time invested. Just because someone is in school does not mean this principle no longer applies.
Maybe these 3 areas could be a great place to start when we wonder why our learners are less engaged the longer they are in our system.