Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Back to the Academy: Motivation

A great deal of fuss is made about capsuleer motivation in New Eden. A lot of theories are presented, using complex marketing words, and often have a consumer/provider perspective. And yes, if you were in the business of creating new capsuleers, that's a good way to look at things.

However, all those approaches are about cloning subscription numbers, and have a lot of solutions which are based on anecdote and assumption. They often lack objectivity, and rarely, if at all, think about the actual term: motivation.

Fortunately, that is one of the areas covered today at the academy: student motivation. I like to work from practical examples, so here's a common capsuleer motivation: I want to participate in null-sec alliance battles.

For a start, let's define the term.

In an academic setting, motivation is 'the state of cognitive and emotional arousal' which 'leads to a conscious decision to act'.*

Makes sense right? And is rather provocatively worded for an academic definition.

This is usually expressed as a long-term application of effort (either physical or intellectual) to achieve a goal. Motivation is the fuel, rather than the goal itself. For a teacher, arousing interest in a subject is important, but it is also important to maintain and manage the effort it takes to get him to his goal.

In our null-sec aspirant, we learn that motivation is not, in fact, fighting in the 1000-man fleet battles, but that being a goal. Motivation is what will get him there, and keeping him in that state of cognitive and emotional arousal is the job of space developers, and (much more directly) his corporation leaders.

But how can a teacher, space developer or alliance leader do this, if they don't really understand where this motivation comes from?

Lets move on to orientations and sources.

Orientations are the reasons for learning, or in the case of New Eden, being a capsuleer. They essentially fall into two categories: integrative or instrumental.**

Integrative is the desire to be part of a community.
Instrumental is more practical, such as passing an exam or getting a better job.

In capsuleer terms: I become a capsuleer to join an alliance (integrative), or I become a capsuleer to fly a titan (instrumental).

How is this useful?

A corporation leader with a clearer idea of what compels his capsuleer to enter space can manage his corp member more effectively. If his recruits goal is integrative, then promises of social stature, or an ever-widening network of allies will keep that recruit happy. If his recruits goal is instrumental, then directly showing that competency in a certain brand of sub-capital will keep that recruit motivated in the years it takes to master a titan.

To a space developer, understanding the more popular orientations of capsuleers help to prioritize which areas of New Eden need development. For example: integrative capsuleers will need more social tools, and ways to show their affiliations (chat channels and corp logos). Instrumental capsuleers will need more tools to measure their progress... and now you understand the success of ISIS.

One final thing to mention: sources.

These are where the motivations come from, and again, have two flavors: extrinsic and intrinsic.

Those of you not asleep at this point can probably work it out. Intrinsic sources come from within the capsuleer, whereas extrinsic ones come from somewhere else i.e. the corp director saying do this thing.

The important thing to know from this is that intrinsic motivations are usually stronger, and much more likely to motivate. So rather than tell your capsuleer what to do, help your capsuleer to accomplish his own goals, in support of your own.

*Williams and Burden (1997)
**Gardner (1985)

Monday, 3 February 2014

Back to the Academy: Ritual vs. Principled Behaviour

Well, an easy first day back in the student chair again. Today was mostly focusing on teaching practices and beliefs at a personal level, and what you do or don't do in a classroom.

A number of teaching topics related to capsuleer activity spring to mind, but perhaps the easiest concept to understand (and easiest to see the relevance) is the difference between ritual and principled behavior.

In true student-centered style, I'll give you a minute to think about the difference between the two.


Let see how you did.

Ritual behavior: Classroom practices that are done without thinking, with no understanding of the reasons for doing such a thing in a classroom. A good example of this is when a manager asks a teacher to drill their students after every class. The teacher complies without asking why.

Principled behavior: Classroom practices based on knowledge. This is when you drill based on a book you read highlighting the importance of repetition for pronunciation.

Again, take a minute to decide which one is better.


Most likely took you less than a minute right? Of course, understanding what you do and why you do it is always better. You'll know when to break or adapt your tasks in a lesson to suit what's going on in the classroom.

On the other hand, ritual behavior does give you an arsenal of activities to use in a lesson that you don't need to think about. It can save you time during planning. It lets you spend more effort on the more interesting stuff in a class, or the more relevant things.

Rituals can also creep in if you do the same task repeatedly, and simply forget why you were doing it in the first place. If you've ever wondered why your teacher asked you to copy things into your work book when the text book spells things out clearly, that will be the reason why. In the past, they might not have had such a good or clear text book, and they want you to have some good study notes.

All things in life are connected, and we can use this to critically examine what we do in New Eden.

Think of some activities you do in your pod, or in dock. This can be updating market orders, ship fitting, orbiting a button, mining an asteroid... choose what you do most often.

Once you've done that, decide what they are for you: are they a ritual you perform because someone told you to, or because you've always done it, or do you consciously think about why you're doing it.


I thought of a couple of examples: Thou shalt fit a briefcase (damage control unit).

It's a a reflex for anyone starting to fit a ship. Usually the DCU2 goes on first. The reasoning is sound. It gives you a nice chunk of resistance across the board, and can substantially toughen your ships. But be careful. It's not always the right choice. Sometimes the CPU used for the DCU2 can be saved for other modules.

The common market strategy is the undercut prices by 0.01 ISK. Yes it's effective, and you won't risk too much. But, you might be able to make more ISK by cutting more substantially, or even leaving the market all together.

A null-sec example is the alliance doctrine fleet. Members will be told to fit certain ships a certain way, but many will have next to no idea why they are fit in such a way. In some fleets, only the fleet commander will know why... which means when he's primaried off the field, the fleet collapses.

So now is a good time to reflect a bit more critically about what you're doing in New Eden. Are you operating based on principle, or based on ritual? That's a question only you can decide, and only you can decide whether it's worth your time to think about it.

For me, it's made me think about the ships I'm currently flying. A lot of my skills are in projectiles and lasers, so I mostly fly Minmtar or Amarr ships. The thing is, I don't know if I'd actually have better results in a Gallente or Caldari ship. I've never tried. I simply go for Amarr/Minmatar and fit ships to suit my piloting style. It might be better to find ships to compliment my piloting style instead.

I'd like to see some of the ritual behaviors other pilots have, so, if you'd be so kind, please write them in the comments below. The first step to development is working out where to start!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Back to the Academy: Introduction

This has nothing to do with spaceships.

At least not directly. Tomorrow, I will be beginning a DELTA course. When I'm not in the pod, I have a hobby of teaching languages. I've found a great deal of work out in low-sec, as the fringes between the trade hubs often have their own dialects and tongues.

The DELTA course is a two month long marathon, including input sessions and practical teaching observations. Why am I doing this? The teaching jobs I do directly contribute to my Pilot's License. Once I've done this course, funding the license will become easier, and I can spend less time badgering my market servant.

What I'll be learning are different approaches to teaching languages. I'll be posting up some of what I learn on here.

Whilst it does not directly link into piloting professional development, the things I've learnt as a teacher have helped me at the pilots stick immensely. Lessons learned in running a classroom can be applied to running a corporation, and of course, training new capsuleers.

I doubt many will find it that interesting, but so long as one person picks up on the ideas and gets an advantage from it, then I'll be happy. That's what these web posts are for... giving my fellow capsuleers ideas and inspiration.

And yes, this does mean I'm going to spend less time in the pilot's seat. That's another reason I write this. 

So when I do get into space, I make the most of my time...