Pain Points and Education

I am currently reading Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart by Ian Ayers. During my second reading of this book, I was again intrigued by the idea of “Pain Points” that casinos use in order to determine when a gambler is about to stop gambling. In other words, when does a gambler say “enough is enough” and walk away? Casinos watch for the moment right before a gambler has gotten to this point and send in a “Luck Ambassador” to offer you a free steak dinner to make sure you don’t lose too much money and to quickly change the way you feel about continuing to gamble.

This idea has me thinking, “Does this happen in my classroom? Do students have a “Pain Point” at which they reach their limit and decide they are no longer going to work? Is there a point where a student thinks ‘enough is enough?'” In my experience, the answer is yes. My colleagues and I often discuss the fact that students give up once the work has become too difficult.

In light of this reading, I have a few questions:
1.) Does a “Pain Point” exist for students?
2.) Is there a way to quantify the point at which this occurs?
3.) If we can quantify this, is it different for honors, average, and foundational students?
4.) Most importantly, to me, is there a way to play the part of “Luck Ambassador” and keep students from giving up?

I would love any discussion on this topic.


One thought on “Pain Points and Education

  1. Maybe, you could try homework free Fridays, if everyone in class completes the work for the week. That seems a bit militant, though, because those who don’t or are having trouble completing the work might be looked upon negatively by their classmates. A better idea might be to include a grade boosting point giveaway for each individual student who completes the work. For example, students who complete the homework and give their best effort during classtime get a free 100/100 (or 10/10 etc.) at the end of the week as a reward for their efforts, that is, if you are using a point system. I’m no teacher, but that’s what I came up with. Good luck, Mr. Harridge!

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