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Patterns of behavior will take time to emerge. Having a history of motivational strategies that have worked consistently over time is priceless. Motivating Japanese Students - Are Diaries useful as a research tool?

(Photo by Paul Canosa)

In this paper I will evaluate the process. The purpose of this paper is to devise a framework for keeping a diary on the strategies you can use for motivating your students. I will highlight the difficulties I experienced in the process, and assess the value of the techniques as a research tool.

Inspiration Peak - What exactly is a diary?

There is some confusion over what a diary is and is not. For this article`s purposes a diary is a place where the teacher may put down any information which may be helpful in her teaching of a class. Anything to which she can refer back to. Thus any information be it factual, feelings, attitudes or reactions may be included.

Motivating Japanese Students - On diary writing McDonough and McDonough write:

“In education and in English language teaching, the diary has become increasingly significant both as a reflective genre in itself, and as one of a battery of interpretive micro-ethnographic resarch techniques.” –Jo McDonough & Steven McDonough, “Research Methods for English Language Teachers,” Arnold Publishers 1997 p. 121

Inspiration Peak - What should be in the diary?

Elliot is quoted in McDonough and McDonough`s book, “Research Methods for Second Language Teachers,” as saying a diary should contain: “anecdotes;…accounts of conversations…;introspective accounts of one`s feelings, attitudes, motives, understandings in relation to things, events, circumstances` and should be kept on a continuous basis (1991:77) p. 122 McDonough and McDonough

Elliot elaborates that as well as keeping regular entries of your teaching, one should analyze these for, “recurring patterns, or salient events.” –Elliot (1990: 215 as quoted on p. 122 McDonough and McDonough

Motivating Japanese Students - Why keep a diary on how to motivate your students?

“Events and ideas are recorded for the purpose of later reflection…The process of writing itself helps to trigger insights about teaching. Writing in this sense serves as a discovery process.”–Jack C. Richards on keeping a teaching journal Jack C. Richards, p. 7 “Reflective Teaching in Second Language Classrooms," Cambridge University Press 2004

Keeping a diary (or journal as Richards calls it) is an easy way to look back and learn from your successes, and to either do away with or at least modify some of your unsuccessful motivational strategies.

Having an easy reference, of strategies that have worked for you in your teaching. “…a diary is not only a re-creation of immediate experience but is also a written record: the act of writing itself is a way of structuring, forumulating and reacting to that experience, which is then available for reflection and analysis.” p.122 McDonough and McDonough

Motivating Japanese Students - How often should you make entries?

You should write about your classes on a regular basis.

Jack C. Richards recommends once or twice a week. (p.7) Reflective Teaching….

I try to do it after every class. I want a comprehensive record over time. I want to be able to see exactly what worked and what did not, so writing after every class is the best for me. You should also review your diary on a regular basis. This will help you to have an idea of (in general) what is working and what isn`t.

Richards points out that keeping a journal can be beneficial when you and your colleagues share them and meet regularly to discuss them. I do this with a colleague of mine who is also very concerned with motivating his students.

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