(a leading psychology researcher) studies times of enjoyment, what he calls flow experiences.
He defines flow experiences as those “in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else
seems to matter.” Smith and Wilhelm, authors of Going with the Flow, attempt to condense Czikzentmihaly’s
eight characteristics of flow experiences into four and apply these modified characteristics to literacy instruction. Overall, the characteristics stress the need to make literacy instruction as engaging
for students as their choice activities outside of school.
Characteristics of Flow Experiences
A Sense of Control and Competence
were more willing to persist with literacy tasks when they perceived the tasks to be within their range of ability. This motivation
increased further when students were given some ownership in the decision-making process.
This is crucial because when all aspects of literacy tasks were too difficult or chosen for students, the students
resisted doing the work. By giving students appropriately challenging options
with some student-choice, teachers receive more effort and higher-quality work.
An Appropriate Challenge
we want students to feel competent and experience success, it doesn’t mean that we should give work that doesn’t
push them to take their knowledge to the next level. In fact, when work was too
easy, students rejected it just as much as when it was too hard. Learning out students and their needs becomes even more important
as we strive to provide everyone with “just right” learning experiences.
Clear Goals and Immediate Feedback
goals is a great way to boost achievement. Not only are students competitive
with each other, but they are competitive with themselves too. Sharing work with
peers can also boost achievement and motivation. Smith and Wilhelm mention students
who eagerly share their writing with peers in hopes of receiving immediate feedback. Such
feedback encourages students to persist with the task and take it to a higher level.
A Focus on the Immediate Experience
work showed that “One of the reasons flow experiences are so compelling is that one’s engagement is so intense
that those unwanted intruders [distracting thoughts form outside of school] are banished.”
further reading, see Going with the Flow, Chapter 1.