Evaluation as Carrot

The Yancy article got me thinking, do we all need evaluation as much as this article says we do? Yancy quotes one woman, a housewife, who cannot quantify her success as a parent without grades or salary increases, but wonders if she knows she has done a good job if she is simply exhausted at the end of the day. Yancy finds this alarming and recommends the use of self reflection to avoid students “… dependent on external rewards, not knowing where to begin to consider their own performances” (Yancy 13). This made me wonder, how dependent are we on external rewards like evaluation? Is evaluation our “carrot”  for doing things well, a motivation in itself?

Come get the carrot! Come get it! That's a good undergrad!

I blogged a little while ago about how much I wanted my Poetry professor to give us back our essays already so I could find out how I did. If anything is indicative of a dependence on external reward, that blog post probably is (I got a “B” by the way which is perfectly acceptable). I mean, I am a little over-excited by comments on my essays, even for the bad ones. Because otherwise, I really have no idea if my writing is any good or not.

I DON'T EVEN KNOW!

As much as I don’t really agree with Yancy’s high estimation of self-reflection (we’re students, we’re not entirely qualified to make judgments about most writing because we are still learning, we obviously have incentive to absolutely love our own work, we all have a healthy sense of self-flagellation which makes us hate our own work, etc.) I definitely recognize this external locus of evaluation as problematic. An external locus of anything can be difficult to deal with, as the world is unlikely to continue to provide an exact measure of how well we are doing on each task we complete.

A+ on that batch of coffee Jill! Though next time, try not to drop the coffee filters, it ruins the overall effect of your piece.

Deciding the worth of the things you do on your own is actually pretty important, for the sake of continuing to do things, and for the sake of learning after people stop telling you what to learn. This can be applied in anywhere in life. It would be super-helpful if the Grand Poobah of Life, the Universe, and Everything would just reach down from the clouds and inform you that your last relationship is going to making you fail “Interpersonal Connections” unless you fix your communication problems and improve your loser-spotting skills in the next one. However, this is not the case. Honest self-evaluation is absolutely necessary for figuring out what you are doing that works, what you are doing that doesn’t work, and why.

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts to “Evaluation as Carrot”

  1. I am doing research in the psych department about motivation and self regulation and how it can be produced/enhance if that is possible and how fit together. Reading your blog made me really curious about the effects of evaluation on motivation and self regulation, I would love to talk to my Research Advisor about that.

  2. I’ve definitely pondered similar thoughts. I tend to write for my professors gratification. I look at what they want, and I read their revisions and normally just go with it to appease them. I wish that I could be in an environment that fostered personal motivation for improvement but that darn “have to go to law school” thing really diminishes my free spirit attitude toward education.

  3. Paige, I agree to some extent. There are times that I write for myself, but then I get stubborn and disregard some of the changes suggested, resulting in a lower grade than I would have liked. The way I see it is that I am not writing in the academia for myself. I am writing to get a degree, which will get me into law school, which will get me a career that will hopefully get me a comfortable life. If a teacher says, do this, then, by all means, I’ll do it. If I want to write purely for myself, then I can start a diary or personal blog. I hope that makes sense without being too cynical. (:

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