Gaining a Better Understanding of Learners' Success or Failure

The VVSE formula gives us a way to assess and discuss what led to a learner’s success in, or dropping out of, our programs. With this formula, we can ask: “Was their volition or value too low?” Even despite our best efforts, “Were these two qualities not strong enough?” We can also look to the other side of the formula and ask ourselves: “To what extent did we/I help the learner feel successful? To what extent did we/I help the learner enjoy our program? And, if not, why not?”

The point here is that the onus is on both the teacher/tutor and the learner to achieve success.

We should not necessarily feel guilty or disappointed when a learner drops out. This happens a lot and for many reasons, most of which we will never know. In fact, in many cases, adult learners will “stop out,” rather than “drop out.” Meaning, they will often return once an issue in their lives has been resolved. Or, a learner just may not be ready for our program. Meaning, they may have children or other demands back home. They might have health issues. They simply may not be ready to do academic work. We often will never know. But, it is not enough to say: “I guess they weren’t motivated.” Putting the entire onus on the learner for leaving our program is not very helpful. I have seen this happen on many occasions. Teachers often talk about why a learner might have left the program, then some will shrug and say, “Not motivated, I guess.” The success of every learner is a two-partner journey. It involves both the learner and the teacher/tutor.

Motivation is complex. If we are to learn about the process of motivation itself, we need a way to understand it. The VVSE formula can help in that it gives an understanding of the roles of both the learner and teacher/tutor; it also gives insight to the internal and external motivators at play. Likewise, the framework of the five learning approaches shows how we can use these in terms of external and internal motivators to enhance and build on what our learners bring us.

What follows is a program-based flow-through chart that brings together the three teaching methods presented in Section Four and the five learning approaches presented in Section Five (and discussed above) that could be used in a classroom or tutoring program.