Concurrent to conducting research using other frameworks, we also collected data through the AEIOU method for coding observations. This method requires one to give special attention to the Activities people are engaged in the environment, including their specific actions and processes. The method allows one to further analyze Activities by classifying the Interactions a person engages with during the activities.
While observing the student activities and interactions, we noticed that students had increased motivation after successfully completing a portion of work, such as an assignment or quiz.
AEIOU Research Method
The Motivation Trifecta
We leveraged a framework called The Motivation Trifecta, as described by Daniel Pink in the book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” to contextualize our research findings from our affinity diagram. This framework suggests that one can stimulate intrinsic motivation by focusing on autonomy, mastery, and purpose. On every category in our affinity diagram, we looked at each snippet of data and determined whether they were factors of Autonomy, Mastery, or Purpose. By examining our findings through the lens of the Motivation Trifecta, we were able to see how factors related to student study behaviors in each category influenced intrinsic motivation.
Supporting the Needs of Students in 2020
Our team approached the following two week Microsoft design challenge by performing extensive research on student behavior at Indiana University. We did not want to study demographics but rather the behaviors and motivations that led to positive study habits. We chose to analyze student use of the campus library's Scholar’s Common because the space itself had been designed to stimulate individual and group scholarly work. But before we began, we sketched a process outline to guide our research and development. This guideline included question formulation to define the scope, observations and interviews with students, data synthesis through affinity diagramming, and a framework for analyzing student motivation.
Putting It All Together
Discussions with students confirmed our finding that students felt positive after working on an assignment. This was the inspiration for creating a program that leverages those positive feelings to elicit continued effort. Unlike other motivational systems that focus on encouraging studious behavior before a student begins, either with external motivators like a positive grade or punishment, our program reinforces positive behavior after the student has finished working.
Interviews with students revealed that stress was most felt before starting an assignment due to a paralyzing fear that work would be overly difficult. To help students get over the psychological barrier to begin an assignment, Microsoft On Track analyzes a student’s schedule and location to send reminder notifications when the student is most likely and available to work.
Traditionally, once you saved your progress on Word or Powerpoint that was the end. Although you may have just accomplished a great deal, these programs have no way of reinforcing your good effort. By integrating On Track, students receive positive reinforcement after saving in the form of a message clearly communicating their progress.
On Track Portal
Students wanting to keep track of their progress over multiple assignments can access them through the On Track portal. From here, students can begin assignments and launch Microsoft software, see a snapshot of how much time or work is left before completion, and add new assignments.
Like a weight loss goal, the student’s academic goal is abstract and imposing. To frame their progress in a more understandable way, On Track leverages what the student just experienced, the amount of work they completed. This information informs the student that if they were to complete as much as they just did in the future, it would only take X amount of time to complete their work. This positively reinforces the student’s behavior and incentivizes them to return to make more progress.