Dr. Susan Nolen
Emeritus Professor, University of Washington Learning Sciences and Human Development
In this talk Dr. Nolen will describe how situating motivation in and across social contexts, with attention to how contexts interact and change over time, can provide a useful framework for both research and working for change in education. She will contrast it with a more traditional approach to motivation theory, rooted in the psychology of individual differences, which considers individuals as separable from context. Drawing on the ideas of Holland, Greeno, Roth, and others to situate motivation, Dr. Nolen’s research and theorizing focuses on motives as arising through interaction, in relation to cultural norms within particular social worlds. This provides conceptual tools to understand participation in learning in relation to the roles and storylines made available to specific people or groups in specific contexts, and how those contexts might be changed by changing participation. The motives in an individual’s head become only a part of the phenomenon rather than the main show. The implications of this approach for developing theory, research methods, and working for change will be discussed.