Time Banking: Foundations

Short post today because I’ve spent so much time looking at research and fixing papers and catching up on things that I haven’t left myself much time to blog. Sorry about that! Today’s post is talking about one of the most vital aspects of time banking and one that I’ve been working on slightly under the radar – the theoretical underpinnings based on work in education, psychology and economics.

Foundations: More complex than they first appear.

Today we’ve been looking at key papers in educational psychology on motivation – but the one that stood out today was Zimmerman (90), “Self-regulated learning and academic achievement: An overview.” in Educational Psychologist, 25.  I want my students to become their own time managers but that’s really just a facet of self-regulation. It’s important to place all of this “let’s get rubber with time” into context and build on the good science that has gone before. I want my students to have the will to learn and practice, and the skill to do so competently – one without the other is no good to me.

This is, of course, just one of the aspects that we have to look at. Do I even know how I’m planning to address the students? Within an operant framework of punishment and reward or a phenomenological framework of self-esteem? How am I expecting them to think? These seem like rather theoretical matters but I need to know how existing timeliness issues are being perceived. If students think that they’re working in a reward/punishment framework then my solution has to take that into account. Of course, this takes us well into the world of surveying and qualitative analysis, but to design this survey we need sound theory and good hypotheses so that we can start in the ballpark of the right answer and iteratively improve.

We’re looking at motivation as the key driver here. Yes, we’re interested in student resilience and performance, but it’s the motivation to move to self-regulation that is what we’re trying to maximise. Today’s readings and sketching will be just one day out of many more to come as we further refine our search from the current broader fan to a more concentrated beam.

What of the economic factors? There is no doubt that the time bank forms a primitive economy out of ‘hours’ of a student’s time but it’s one where the budget doesn’t have to balance across the class, just across an individual student. This makes things easier to an extent as I don’t have to consider a multi-agent market beyond two people: the student and me. However, the student still has private information from me, the quality, progress and provenance of their work, and I have private information from them, in terms of the final mark. Can I make the system strategy proof, where students have no incentive to lie about how much work they’ve done or don’t try to present their private information in a way that is inherently non-truthful? Can I also produce a system where I don’t overly manipulate the system through the construction of the oracle or my support mechanisms? There’s a lot of great work out there on markets and economies so I have a great deal of reading to do here as well.

So, short post – but a long and fascinating day.

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