When your teaching a lesson do you factor what part of the experience triggers interest?  I’m sure you think everything in your lesson is interesting.  Your students do not feel like this (I'm sure you know this).  Do you have particular activities that provide a potential trigger for interests?  

Why all the question about triggers?  I recently read The Canalization and Connectedness in the Development of Science Interest by Kimberley Pressick-Kilborn.  This paper had the word trigger 51 times.  So, there is a lot to this word in education. 

I’m going to unpack what I got out of this paper as far as the word trigger.  In the article, “The research focuses on how individual learners create meaning related to particular triggers, in terms of perceived connectedness to the task and topic and to their peers and teacher.”  Well, this got me to think about my students' connection to what I’m lecturing.  Do I have these moments in my lectures?  Do I start examining for triggers?  If all I’m doing is just ranting and raving about a topic, and not create meaning (not for me, for students), then I do not have triggers points.  And it’s not just one of two trigger points, do I have them over time (spanning the semester).  

My Digital Storytelling class is wrapping up the semester. It’s still relatively fresh in my mind. In this class, not all my student had as much interest in the topic as I hoped.  Beyond my role as a teacher, I tried social interactions outside of class to spark interest.  I attempted to have student see a personal significance and value to my teachings. But even though I perceived this as good triggers, just like in the reading, “Importantly, Renninger and Su (2012) highlighted that the presence of supports and intended triggers does not necessarily guarantee triggering.”  In my Digital Storytelling class, I had one goal in mind. But as the course developed, I knew I had to modify my goals.  I had students find meaning for themselves and allowed them to take a little bit of charge shaping final projects.  I didn’t react quick enough and didn't make modification right away.  That was my mistake.  I think if I did that in the earlier phases of interest, I think some of my triggers would of, well trigger more investment.

The lesson for me is to ‘read the room,’ and make a modification to lecture and what I think are triggers for my students to make connections to the content.

My Digital Storytelling class taught me some valuable lessons to incorporate into my other courses. I should have projects that allow students to pursue lines of curiosity that helps them deepen their knowledge-and trigger interest. Could this lead them to a topic, skills, outcome and some self-efficacy?  My trigger leads to self-efficacy?  I'll let you know! 

I do have some of my former students tell me, way after they take my class, that some underlying triggers get them thinking about what I taught them, and they finally have an ‘a-ha’ moment.  Some of these triggers won’t always happen in the semester, sometimes it takes years for students to realize, ‘a-ha!’

Happy Triggering!