Introduction of the Social Performance Optimization Tool


This project builds upon a university-funded study that is designed to promote self-motivation and increase peer-to-peer support in online courses by using affect-related achievement representation. Building on promising but preliminary research conducted by other researchers, our approach is to represent learner achievement data in an attractive, informative, and dynamic indicator, specifically the health condition of a pet, to anonymously inform learners of the progress they are making, as well as the progress of others anonymously. Unlike the traditional grade book that provides numeric or letter grades, our affect-related representation is expected, based on prior research, to promote learner motivation and learner-to-learner interaction. We expect that learners will perform better in order to keep their pets healthy and increase peer-to-peer support, which is often unsatisfactory in online courses, to keep others’ pets healthy.

Research questions to be addressed include:

  1. Does use of affect-related achievement representation contribute to self-motivation? If so, how?
  2. Does the affect-related achievement representation impact how learners interact in a positive way? If so, how?

Affect-related achievement representation is a novel approach to both enhancing individual motivation and creating a community within online courses that have not yet been the subject of rigorous investigation. This project explores whether, how, and why affect-related achievement representation may impact learners’ self-motivation and peer-to-peer support in online environments.