Rachel Hunt, UTS Insearch
Too school for cool? Or a useful tool? Using points to encourage participation.

"Teaching nowadays is like performing in a pub – some people are paying attention, some are on their phones, some are chatting, some are wandering in and out; some are even asleep." As learners in Foundation English and EAP courses are increasingly younger and more connected with their devices, there seems to be a real need to inspire them to engage more with course content and within the classroom. This action research project examines how incorporating an online points system (Class Dojo) can encourage these learners to participate actively in class, enhancing their outcomes and motivation and meeting their needs and expectations. Often students seem to be disengaged and/or unwilling to participate, even when they have a clear goal (getting to university).

This session will focus on how tailoring the points to a particular learning context or group can increase the learners' participation in the lesson and benefit the teacher's management of the class. The presentation will examine the key aspects of this process: the need for students to be involved in the choice of rewards, to reflect on their progress and to set their own goals. Some of the issues related to incorporating this technology into an adult learning environment will also be discussed. Finally, the presentation will consider the potential for usage in the wider ELT context.

Rachel Hunt is a teacher trainer and Academic English and Foundation Studies teacher at UTS: Insearch in Sydney. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Leeds and holds a Masters degree from the University of Durham. She has both the Cambridge CELTA and DELTA and has been teaching, writing, examining and training in diverse ELT contexts in Europe and Australia for twenty years. She is interested in learner engagement (especially within an academic context), materials design and teacher professional development.