Currently watching a presentation by Dan Pink on motivation
One of his points is on autonomy and how it drives us. Here is my question:
What would happen if I told my students at the beginning of a unit: You have to produce this many stories. They have to be equal in quality to this sample story for an "A". These are the skills that you need in order to do it. I don't care what your stories are about, as long as you demonstrate in them that you have this list of skills mastered and that the stories are creative and interesting.
If you want to just work independently and ignore me, fine. Just get your work finished. But, if you feel like you don't have the skills necessary, I will teach you a new technique every class meeting that you can use, a new skill to employ in your work. The skill might be a writing technique, proper grammar, or even how to convey your own clear voice in your writing. If you listen and use it, great, your papers will improve. If you ignore me, then you could already have the skills and be fine. But, if you don't have the skills and ignore me, then your work will most likely be terrible, and you will therefore fail. Pay attention if you want, ignore me if you want, but get the work done, and do it well.
What would happen? I am too scared to try.