Annual Symposium on the Science of Learning: Motivation and Curiosity: Putting the fun back in learning

More... Share to Twitter Share to Facebook
Annual Symposium on the Science of Learning: Motivation and Curiosity: Putting the Fun Back in Learning

Annual Symposium on the Science of Learning: Putting the Fun Back in Learning 

Date: Friday, April 22, 2013 - 2:00 to 5:00 pm
Location: The Cannon Room, Building C, Harvard Medical School

Overview of Program

Medical students and residents have a long record of academic achievement, reflected in high GPAs, MCAT and USMLE scores. Although grades serve as external rewards for achievement, and although students and residents are highly motivated to become doctors, their performance on a daily basis sometimes demonstrates a lack of interest, curiosity and motivation, while depression and "burnout" are increasingly becoming problems. For many of our students and trainees, the joy of learning and intellectual exploration is all too often missing from their daily lives. 

This annual symposium provided faculty up-to-date information from the neurosciences and cognitive psychology about theories and research on learning.  This year’s topics helped faculty to understand the complexity of motivation and the role of curiosity to meaningful learning in adulthood; to explore the relationship between motivation and curiosity; and to apply theory and research to their teaching.


Judith M. Harackiewicz, PhD
Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Optimal Motivation in Education
Dr. Harackiewicz presented research from longitudinal and lab studies of young adult learners that explore the factors that influence optimal motivation and consequent success: students’ goals, values and interests. She also discussed utility value interventions that promote students’ motivation and performance in STEM fields.

Supplemental Articles**:
1.)  Hulleman, CS, and Harackiewicz, JM (2009). Promoting interest and performance in high school science classes. Science, 326, 1410-1412. (click here)
2.)  Elliot, AJ, and Harackiewicz, JM (1994). Goal setting, achievement orientation, and intrinsic motivation: A mediational analysis. Personality and Social Psychology, 66:5, 968-980. (click here)


Kirk Daffner, MD, FAAN
J. David and Virginia Wimbley Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School
Director, Center for Brain/Mind Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital

Dr. Daffner presented work on the neural underpinnings of curiosity, and discussed the interplay between the execution of goal-directed behaviors and attention to novelty. 

Supplemental Article**:
1.)  Chong, H, Riis, JL, McGinnis, SM, et. al. (2008). To ignore or explore: Top-down modulation of novelty processing. Cognitive Neuroscience, 20:1, 120-134. (click here)

**Note: You must be logged onto eCommons in order to view articles. For further instructions, please click here.



Harvard Medical School is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians. Harvard Medical School designates this live activity for a maximum of 2.75 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.