Thursday, January 21, 2016

Stars For the Sweet Snowflakes. From Brunnhilde.

As it's the start of a new semester here at Prestigious Public U, I decided to check out some of the shiny new bells and whistles (aka "apps") available on our CMS.  But rather than finding useful new tools for tracking student progress or assignments, I discovered that we can now literally give our students gold stars.

I'm tempted to ask my freshmen if they find it infantilizing or if they would actually be motivated by stars and thumbs ups and megaphones beside their names. 

But I'm afraid the answer might just make me cry.


  1. We have something similar-not via the CMS, but it sounds the same. I already cry.

  2. And the lawsuits claiming emotional distress if the star were any colour other than gold?

  3. Our LMS has these too. They like them....

    They liked them back in the pre-digital age, too (ohhh, that dates me, doesn't it). I once got so exasperated with a Freshman Underwater Basketweaving class that when finally on week 6 I had TWO people finally with 100% of the points on their exercise, I put a flower sticker on that paper. Forthwith, they improved their work ethic, striving to get those flowers.... I kept it up to humor them, had a good laugh about it.

    Three years later I meet a number of these students in a Senior Weaving Materials course. After I handed back the first exercise one student came up pouting. "What's wrong with my exercise?" I looked it over, handed it back. "You have all the points, great work!" "Oh, but I didn't get a flower sticker so I thought there was something wrong with it." So I kept the flowers up until we started submitting stuff to the LMS.

    1. Aargh. This is why I refuse to start with stickers or candy or cookies or, well, anything. Do male teachers get in these pickles?

      We do have emoticons both in email and on the LMS message board, and I've made very occasional use of them, usually to soften a slightly I-told-you-so-ish statement ("I know this isn't the time you want to hear this, but this is why backups are a good idea" or "you'll find the details on the assignment").

      I refuse to create badges or gamify class work. I just couldn't pull it off. I try to be sympathetic, and to do what works, but I'm afraid the consternation at adults wanting/needing such stuff would show through.