Skip to Content

Curiosity: Activating Internal Student Motivation when Teaching Online

Session Overview

This video was part of the July 2020 REMOTE: The Connected Faculty Summit

The most important result from the last twenty years of classroom research has been the shift from “teacher-centered” to “student-centered” teaching; the so-called: Active Learning revolution. Yet this effort is incomplete since it has narrowed its focus to the question of HOW students learn. And for teaching to be “student-centered” one must first understand WHY students WANT to learn. By understanding student motivation we would be able to fully integrate them into their learning process. Using the definition of curiosity offered by cognitive scientists (Loewenstein’s Information Gap Theory of Curiosity), this workshop will provide some basic strategies instructors can use right away to motivate students to learn by creating curiosity. I then place the concept of student motivation in the context of the modern role of the instructor. The end goal is to inspire and empower instructors to appreciate the value of human instruction in the age of the teaching machine.


Jose J Vazquez

Clinical Professor, University of Illinois Department of Economics
Dr. Vazquez teaches at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he leads three sections of one of the largest Economics courses in the country (925 students). This is in addition to the more than 100,000 people who have registered over the last six years to take his very popular Principles of Microeconomics MOOC in Coursera. Recently, his research has been in the area of mental attention and student motivation, particularly the role of curiosity as a way to incentivize students.