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September 09, 2010

Redefining Student Engagement Through the Fogg Behavior Model (Part 1)

BJ Fogg created the Fogg Behavior Model (FBM) through his work at the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University. The FBM states...

"Three elements must converge at the same moment for a behavior to occur: Motivation, Ability, and Trigger. When a behavior does not occur, at least one of those three elements is missing."

Fogg goes on to break down the three elements even further...

The FBM deals mostly with online software user behavior, but with a little twist, it can also apply to engaging students on campus.

Kevin, of Red Rover, created the Student Motivation Pyramid (SMP) to better understand the different student motivations. The SMP states...

"Students can be generally divided into three core engagement motivators: Comfort, Connection, and Contribution. Comfort is defined as a motivation for lowest common denominator connections on an individual level (e.g. you like sports, I like sports, let's be friends at orientation). Connection is defined as a motivation to join relevant interest groups and act together toward a common outcome (e.g. German Club, Chess Club, Magic Club). Contribution is defined as a motivation to give back to the campus by consciously leading and supporting the community (e.g. Student Leaders)."

In terms of student engagement, applying (trigger) the wrong motivation (comfort/connection/contribution) at the wrong time (ability) will have little or no effect. Such a simple sentence to write, but opens up a spider web of questions: 

  • How can we know when is a good time to apply a trigger?
  • How can we identify what motivates an individual student? 
  • How can we know what trigger to apply? 

The good news is answers are available and technology provides the helping hand. In Part 2 I'll dig further into each question to provide an overview of how campuses can better engage their students through these models.

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