Why Students Feel Disengaged

DisengagedDuring the worst of the lockdown, it was determined that about 61 percent of all students were disengaged from virtual learning. Amazingly, 76 percent of the teachers/instructors felt unmotivated.

Failures in learning were highest when all of the motivation to learn were essentially “bribes,” i.e. the extrinsic (“If you all turn in your assignments, I won’t give you homework”). The problem with the “intrinsic,” getting the student or worker or executive to incorporate behaviors on their own, is that they need three factors (according to educator/teacher instructor Margaret Sullivan, October 22, 2020), is that the intrinsic relies on at least three factors in order to work: Autonomy, Relatedness and Competence.

Must Relate or Lose

Instructors, whether virtually training 9th graders or 60-year-old HR Directors, must relate to their students or “lose” their students. When teaching ethical behavior in an organizational or association setting, if the instructor loses the student, a lot more than employee time can be lost.

“Autonomy” implies that students must be free to understand how their choices in the moment can make a major impact in the life of the company. Whether the choice is to accept a bribe or refuse to harass an employee, there must be the realization that the choice has a long-term effect. To that end, there must be a sense of ownership, of thinking “I am part of something bigger than just myself.”

“Relatedness “is an attitude of interconnection and understanding our ethical choices do have consequences to others. Relatedness is empathic. (“If I accept this bribe, it could affect every teammate in my department”).

“Competence” is a difficult concept for trainer and “student” alike. Not surprisingly, most trainers felt inadequate to teach, to engage students and to be confident in making an impact. Many still do.

When instructors failed to instill interconnections on a human level, when students couldn’t engage with their instructors or one another, and especially when the instructor felt incompetent to teach, the student, no matter the level, became disengaged.

In Terms of Ethics

An employee who is bored or disengaged with ethics training is a detriment to themselves or to the organization. The importance of ethics training cannot be emphasized enough, and Virtual Training Associates (VTA) a leader in ethics training and ethical counseling has been working at this passion for years before the lockdown.

We would estimate that virtually every major corporate problem in recent years can be directly related to an ethical breakdown. Obviously, there may be extenuating circumstances, but the quickest way for an organization to lose reputation, market share, public or industry support in through unethical behavior. Additionally, ethical behavior must be equally embraced by the entire organization, from the CEO to the custodian.

Autonomy, relatedness and competence are concepts that VTA constantly practices in its virtual and hybrid models. We do not believe in extrinsic rewards nor do we embrace the concept that ethical behavior is selectively practiced. Ethical behavior is a shared imperative that must be internalized and practiced, or it is a worthless exercise; virtual or in-person.



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