Table of Contents
- How a teacher gave lectures with an IKEA effect
- How the IKEA effect works in general
- The “self-teaching” method can yield interesting results.
People value more what they’ve had a hand in creating than what they’ve bought off the shelf. Educators and pedagogical designers can play on this cognitive distortion.
A professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, author of “Character Fortitude. How to Develop the Main Quality of Successful People,” Angela Duckworth said she fell in love with a standard Ikea chair that had to be assembled like a construction set. But her husband was not impressed. But it would have been different, essay writer for free believes, if he had been the one creating the furniture – the labor would have made him look at the most ordinary object with the same admiration.
This trait has a name and a scientific rationale, showing a special love for what we have created ourselves and even a willingness to pay more for it. It works in education as well, as Duckworth herself proved.
In 2020, Professor Duckworths decided to use the effect in teaching to motivate her students to take classes differently. She suggested that if you let them work on the content of the lectures themselves, their attitudes would be different.
During the semester, the professor divided the students into two groups. The first group was responsible for the beginning of the lecture and had to prepare a four-minute interaction on the topic that day. The second group interviewed the guest speaker and moderated the interaction with the classmates.
Seemingly simple as that. Duckworth emphasizes, it took students a long time to prepare. You couldn’t just do assignments on the spot – you had to have several preliminary meetings to brainstorm, research the topic, and rehearse your presentation.
Students, says the University of Pennsylvania professor, were delighted – it helped them memorize information better, prepare for classes more thoroughly,, and be independent. Duckworths concluded that it’s helpful to share responsibility with young people and question what can be done for them and what they can do.
“Laziness is universal, but it also applies to the ability to work and love the fruits of our labor,” she summarized.
Researchers in the 1950s noted that the more labor is invested in something, and sometimes unnecessary, redundant work, the more it is valued. Around this time, a novelty appeared on the American market: muffin mix. You pour the batter into a mold, put it in the oven – and voila, a delicious muffin is ready. But for some reason, customers quickly lost interest in the valuable product. The manufacturer did some research, and it turned out that it was too easy to transfer the mixture into the mold. The housewives did not feel that they had made the cupcake themselves. Then they changed the recipe slightly and added just one step: they had to add an egg to the mixture (the first version already contained egg powder). That changed the attitude towards the product, and interest in it increased again.
Harvard experts suggested that the success of do-it-yourself or buy-but-do-it strategies lies not only in the work itself or, for example, the ability to add something of your own but also in the feeling of success and control over the situation. When you know that a set of boards and nails will make a specific cabinet or table, you assume that your actions will bring results, and success is almost guaranteed.
What other lessons can be learned from the IKEA effect on the learning process
Remember how adding an extra step helped sell cupcake mix? And educators often want to give students overly detailed, self-explanatory assignments so that they don’t have too many headaches, says John Dubell, a 25-year-old British educator.
“The IKEA effect made me think about my own teaching methods. How often have I given my students something already prepared from a textbook or other source? Here’s a list, and go for it! How often have I just given knowledge without the students having to find it on their own? Do they have to start finding out what the world looks like? I’m not the kind of teacher who spoon-feeds students, nor am I the most standard one, but I made that point: I was giving them too much,” Dabell explains.
Dabell cited the SOLE (Self Organized Learning Environment) program of noted Indian educational theorist Sugata Mitra. It is impossible to discuss it without mentioning Mitra’s famous “Hole in the Wall” experiment. One day Mitra decided to test what would happen if children who had never had access to computers got it. He made a hole in his office wall and “put” a computer in the hole. Kids walking outside ran up and asked – what is it? “I don’t know, one of those things,” Mitra answered. “Is it okay to touch it?” – “Please, if you want to, of course,” Mitra said and just walked away. Eight hours later, he found some kids teaching others how to surf the Internet. Mitra’s colleague suggested that one kid already knew about computers and explained the principle to the others.
So Mitra went to a remote village, where “there was no chance of meeting a computer software developer,” and set up a computer in a kiosk on one of the streets. When he returned a couple of months later, the local kids were already actively playing. They immediately asked such an unusual benefactor for a new mouse and processor that would work faster. He asked how the kids had mastered the computer if they didn’t even know English, the main language for all its programs. The children replied, “I had to learn English to understand how this machine worked.
The more experiments Mitra conducted (and the more complicated they were), the more often he concluded that children do not always need a simple transfer of ready-made knowledge – they can learn a lot on their own if they have the right tools for it. Thus, the SOLE program was born, in which children are given full autonomy – they ask themselves the “big questions” and work together to find the answers. The teacher, Mitra explains, simply observes and delights in the process. And also motivates them, in the researcher’s own words, “like a grandmother”: “Wow, how did you do that?”
Of course, Mitra’s method is extreme and highly controversial. But Dabell believes that educators can take his example when they implement the IKEA effect in the classroom:
“In SOLE, students design their learning and are interested in it because they’re involved in it. Isn’t it time for you as a teacher to stop giving them too much and add a little bit of SOLE to your regular day?”
Using the IKEA effect in program design could make a big difference in motivating educators, believes Chett Daniel, head of the U.S. education consulting firm K12 HR Solutions. After all, he notes, schools, in particular, have begun to ask, “How do we motivate teachers?” Of course, giving everyone complete freedom of action and doing the program “as you see fit” is not a good idea.
Therefore, the curriculum or plan can be made a kind of constructor – when the teacher has a certain freedom of action, the opportunity to be creative, and confidence in their abilities. But the final result will also be clear and predictable. It is only necessary to agree on what it will be and coordinate the quality assessment with the teaching staff and school management. When teachers have more freedom and a clear structure, it will lead to positive changes in their work.
Vicki Mata is a writer with many years of experience who has been writing about education since her college days. She does interesting research and writes about interesting educational methods on the WowEssays blog and other independent platforms.
Input your search keywords and press Enter.