Professor David Putwain (Edge Hill University) gives a talk for the Department of Education public seminar series.
A relatively common motivational strategy used by teachers, and others, prior to high-stakes examinations (such as the GCSE), is to communicate to students the negative consequence of failure for one’s subsequent life trajectory. This could include access to subsequent forms of education and training, entry to the labour market, and the impact on one’s sense of self-worth. When used in this way, to highlight the negative consequences of failure, and how these can be avoided, these communications are referred to as fear appeals. In this seminar, I will attempt to unpick the use of fear appeals as a motivational strategy and address the fundamental question of whether they are effective or not. Drawing on some of the studies conducted with colleagues I will focus on two key aspects: How fear appeals are understood by students and how they relate to key educational outcomes (including motivation, engagement and achievement).