FCI Seminar Series: Curiosity and the Pleasures of Learning: Leveraging Internal Student Motivation to Learn Through Curiosity

The most important result from the last twenty years of classroom research has been the shift from “teacher-centered” to “student-centered” teaching. Yet most of this research has defined and focused on HOW students learn.  But, for teaching to be “student-centered” we must first understand WHY students WANT to learn.  By understanding student motivation we would be able to fully integrate them into their learning process.  Jose J. Vazquez, Ph.D. teaches at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he leads three sections of one of the largest Economics courses in the country.  He also teaches a popular Principles of Microeconomics MOOC in Coursera that has enrolled over 100,000 people.  Recently, his research has been in the area of mental attention and student motivation, particularly the role of curiosity as a way to incentivize students. 

This workshop will use the definition of curiosity offered by cognitive scientists (Loewenstein’s Information Gap Theory of Curiosity) to provide some basic strategies that instructors can use to motivate students to learn by creating curiosity, rather than by offering external rewards such as grade points.  Further, we intend to demonstrate the validity of these strategies by connecting them to classroom experiments we conducted in a very large (1,700 students) Principles of Economics course. 


Event Information
Location (Room):
CRLT Seminar Room (1013 Palmer Commons)
Jose Vazquez
Clinical Professor
Department of
University of
U-M Graduate Teacher Certificate:
Not eligible for Certificate
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