Students are more engaged and try harder when instruction and tasks are meaningful to them. Motivation to learn can come from personally relevant goals which can be developed when students have personal choice and control over their own learning.
Research Put into Practice: Apex Learning Curriculum and Pedagogy examines what it means for a student to learn and presents research pointing to the elements of curriculum design that are necessary for supporting learning in middle and high schools.
The research in this white paper is divided into four sections and each section is followed by a discussion of how the research is applied within the Apex Learning digital curriculum.
Section III: Learners focuses on characteristics of learners and what they need to stay engaged and motivated. Learners come to school with preconceived understandings (and misunderstandings) and interests that affect their motivation, along with varying levels of competence.
Learning depends on students being engaged in learning activities. Engagement is defined and measured in different ways and usually is described as having behavioral, cognitive, and affective elements. Studies of online learning have found that interactions that allow students to monitor their own understanding improve learning outcomes.
Prior Knowledge and Misconceptions
A learner’s initial knowledge serves as the foundation for all future learning, determining how new experiences and information are interpreted. Students come to the classroom with preconceptions—and often misconceptions—about content they will learn in school.
Making Learning Meaningful
Key factors that contribute to making learning meaningful include the learner’s emotional states, beliefs (such as the role of effort in achievement), interests, goals, and intellectual habits (such as persistence through ambiguity). Motivation can be stimulated by difficult but achievable tasks that engage individuals to use their higher-order thinking skills.
In their own ways, learners progress through various common stages of development. Learning at each stage is most effective when developmental readiness is taken into account. Online environments afford special opportunities for addressing learner readiness through differentiated instruction.
Supporting Struggling Readers
Struggling readers benefit from the affordances of online curriculum. Multimedia design principles, such as placing visual representations in a location and context that allows for simultaneous processing (visual and verbal) without the two channels competing with each other.
Embedded scaffolding and opt-in supports in Apex Learning are designed to provide students who need additional assistance with the scaffolding they need to master rigorous content.
Supporting English Language Learners
Students who are learning English as a new language may be competent readers in their original language, or they may face the same difficulties as other struggling readers and will benefit from explicit vocabulary instruction, direct and explicit comprehension instruction; and opportunities for extended discussion of text meaning and interpretation.
Read the white paper to learn more about how Apex Learning puts research into practice in its digital curriculum.