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Teachers and Students as Co-Learners

Toward a Mutual Value Theory


Dengting Boyanton

Teaching is hard. Many teachers find it stressful. New teachers often lose their enthusiasm. The special education population is skyrocketing. Students are losing their motivation. What has gone wrong? How can we create powerful learning in students? Most importantly, how can we bring joy back to the classroom? Mutual value theory, as developed by Dengting Boyanton, asserts that to generate powerful learning, four essential values must be instilled in both students and teachers:
1. self-value – both students and teachers value themselves highly
2. perceived self-value—both consider themselves to be highly valued by others
3. other-value – both value each other highly
4. course-value – both value the course highly
Since 2007, the author has applied this theory to her classroom teaching and has received overwhelmingly positive feedback. Students describe her courses as motivating, engaging, enjoyable, respectful, and empowering. Based on both theory and personal teaching experiences, Teachers and Students as Co-Learners: Toward a Mutual Value Theory will help readers develop a deeper understanding of learning, re-ignite their enthusiasm, and, most importantly, create powerful teaching and learning in the classroom.
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Chapter 4. Powerfulness


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. 4 .


Meaning of Powerfulness

What is powerfulness? Powerfulness refers to students’ cognitive intensity or engagement level during the process of learning. The more intensely engaged an individual is in learning, the more powerful learning will be. Specifically, powerfulness includes three elements: 1) motivation, where the learner is very motivated to learn; 2) engagement, where the learner is highly engaged in the task using higher-order thinking skills such as comparing, analyzing, questioning, and creating; and 3) learning outcome, where the individual is very productive in developing new or different ideas.

Element 1: Motivation

One might ask: Is motivation really necessary in defining powerfulness? Can a student still be engaged and learn well with little or no motivation? My research and my own teaching experiences show that motivation is a must-have in creating powerfulness. Through my observation, it is always the case that when the learners are more motivated to learn, they are more likely to be engaged in the process of learning. Students who are not interested in the ← 93 | 94 → materials or have no desire to master them are often less engaged in the learning process. Motivation can be understood as the key to the door of engagement. Without motivation, the individual’s brain will be locked and the individual will be unable to process any information. Without motivation, an individual will just complete the minimal amount of work and will not strive for the best. In...

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