AMP | Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose
Posted on Dec 22, 2013 by Mike Skocko Latest activity: May 27, 2015
From this resource.
AMP (Autonomy Mastery Purpose) in response to Nathan's request
The idea comes straight from Dan Pink who in turn got it (in part) from Deci and Ryan's research that led to their Self-Determination Theory. I was first exposed to the concepts in this video then in Pink's book, Drive.
I read Drive over winter break in 2011 and decided I'd mimic the Atlassian 24 hour "FedEx" day (see Motivation on this page) in the (approx) 24 days we had until the end of the semester (one hour per class per day). Since research demonstrates that paying people enough to take the issue of money off the table is key to getting optimal results, I did just that.
On the first day back, I pitched the kids. I explained the research and the concept. After a short discussion we agreed that grades were the equivalent of money in school so I promised to give everyone an A for the semester's grade if they gave AMP their all and documented the experience.
Students were given the option of working on any project and/or skill-building exercises they wanted so long as it was even remotely related to what we do in the Mac Lab. Those who didn't know what to do were free to use any of my tutorials and/or continue working on the same projects as before. The only additional requirement was they had to document the experience before, during, and after the 24 days to provide anecdotal evidence of the experiment's success (or lack thereof).
The theory holds that when individuals are given autonomy in deciding how to do their jobs, the tendency toward mastery is a natural consequence. Recognition and status replace extrinsic rewards as prime secondary motivators.
(Perhaps the most misunderstood part of the AMP equation.) Our purpose, as I continually tell the students, is to change the course of education in this county. With this experiment, our specific purpose was to prove that students could self-select and self-direct their learning over the course of a month. I promised, as always, to share the results far and wide and I offered to extend the experiment if enough students proved they could handle the challenge.
Remember: The purpose has to be bigger than oneself. If the purpose is simply to make oneself better, it's not AMP. Being part of something larger is the real lever. I can't stress that enough.
Some of the results were shared in this comment. The students that tried and floundered still succeeded in my eyes. They discovered what didn't work. The students who stopped trying (there always seems to be a few despite my best attempts to prod and encourage) did not receive an A. Not one disagreed with me. I saw that as another win.
Discovering that some students didn't like self-direction was enlightening. Discovering that many students deeply resented the slackers surprised me. As I write, however, I'm wondering if it was because we were in fact a team, trying to prove something to the world and the fact that some teammates weren't pulling their weight really bothered some students. I hadn't even considered that angle until right now. I guess they really may have felt part of something bigger than themselves. That's a big takeaway.
The kids who started seeing their world a little differently because of AMP? Epic Win.
Edit: "Since research demonstrates that paying people enough to take the issue of money off the table is key to getting optimal results, I did just that."
That would seem to lend credence to the value of The World's Simplest Rubric. In essence, it takes the issue of money off the table as well. (Just thinking out loud.)