Mar 24, 2015 • Hugues Fontenelle

The motivation example in the book (How Learning Works) reminded me of a very similar situation. In my first year of engineering, at the first lesson of thermodynamics, the professor told us: “Take a good look at the person on your left, then on the person on your right. (Sustained silence). You won’t see them again next semester. Two third of the students fail this course. Or perhaps will it be you? (Sarcastic tone).”. I remember thinking what an asshole he was. Thanks to the author of the book (Susan Ambrose), I now realise that my thermodynamics professor was perhaps simply trying to motivate us, albeit awkwardly. I have now upgraded him from the “jerk” category to “commendable by benefit of doubt”. Regarding my reaction at the time: proving him wrong obviously.

What could have been done differently? I didn’t show any disrespect for my thermodynamics professor but thought no less of him. In retrospect he probably deserved more esteem for trying.