by Kylee Osowski, MA, CCC-SLP (Speech-Language Pathologist); NWACS Contributor
I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for podcast recommendations. I have a half-hour drive to and from work each day. More often than not, I’m planning or reviewing sessions in my head while the news or Spotify plays in the background. Reflection is helpful, but I’d rather take that hour from my day and spend it learning something new.
Talking With Tech AAC Podcast (read more about it in the NWACS New Discoveries post HERE) is an engaging podcast by three SLPs as they navigate research and questions from their practice with regards to AAC. They also discuss new technologies and conduct interviews with people in the field.
One of the episodes I found pertinent to my practice as an SLP in the schools is titled: Michael Biel: Motivation and How It Can Influence AAC User Engagement. I firmly believe that motivation is key to communication for my AAC learners. Rarely do I engage in table work or rote tasks when teaching or modeling language use. It seems I am ceaselessly creating (or Googling) activities to encourage my students to use language. This podcast gave me some crucial insight on how to reflect on my sessions and how to build engagement. Some takeaways from this episode:
Motivation Is In Our Hands
“The kid is not motivated to use his device” is not necessarily correct, nor is it acceptable. Student motivations can be difficult to come by, or fleeting, but they are there. Motivations do not have to be some elaborate activity or wonderful game. As therapists, we need to spend more time observing and determining what makes our students smile.
Does your student laugh when you make an elephant noise? Incorporate that into sessions.
Is technology motivating? Use it! But make it a shared experience and control the environment.
Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivators
First off, the definitions:
Extrinsic: behavior that is driven by external rewards; such as food, toy, token board, etc.
Intrinsic: behavior that is driven internally because it is naturally satisfying and enjoying
As therapists, we should always be looking for intrinsically motivating activities. We can do this by observing our students, asking questions to their team/family, and following their lead. Know that students are not always going to be intrinsically motivated, so extrinsic factors are important as well.
Self Determination Theory
Dr. Michael Biel joins the episode for an interview to go over his studies of self determination theory. In short, this theory relates to motivation based off of three psychological needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness.
1. Autonomous motivation is acting or behaving a certain way as one’s own choice. As an example, let’s pretend your mom wants you to study Spanish. You do this because you want to please your mom and you know that this will be a good skill to have. However, you really want to learn how to play the flute. No one is telling you to do this, but it’s something you’ve always wanted to do and feel compelled towards. Most likely, you will be more successful at the flute because of your autonomous motivation. This type of motivation leads to more conceptual knowledge vs. just rote memorization. In addition, students who are autonomously motivated learn why it’s important and relevant to them. For our students, this will yield more generalization and initiation of language skills.
2. Competence is something I am always trying to balance with my students. It is so critical to set goals that are realistic and attainable, which also have some perceived challenge. If something is too easy, one might not be as motivated to participate. On the other end of the spectrum, if something is way too difficult our students might feel defeated, unsuccessful, and unwilling to participate.
3. The last factor of this theory has to do with relatedness. Our students need to feel that the people who work with them care about them unconditionally. If a student is having an “off” day, it can be easy for us to be a bit more distant or less engaged. Even if you think your emotional or nonverbal shift is subtle, these changes can be felt by our students. Warmth and compassion should not be altered because of something they did (or didn’t do).
Our goal is to support innate motivation and create instances that engage our students in a meaningful way.
What do you do to motivate your students or yourself as a therapist?
You can find this Podcast here or by searching Talking with Tech on your podcast app.
*Images include Boardmaker PCS. The Picture Communication Symbols ©1981–2019 by Mayer-Johnson LLC. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Used with permission.