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Melissa Voderberg - Significantly increase engagement in your UX workshops by applying Self Determination Theory

August 28, 2020

Melissa Voderberg - Significantly increase engagement in your UX workshops by applying Self Determination Theory

We’ve all been there. Finally, the decision-makers are on board and in the room to participate in a high-powered workshop. Energetically, you explain the agenda, go over general housekeeping, and move onto the first activity. Instead of enthusiasm, you’re met with blank stares and a room full of folded arms. Tumbleweeds blow and crickets chirp.

One of the biggest challenges with running UX workshops getting attendees to participate in design activities. How do we motivate people to buckle down and contribute during our small amount of time together?

What drives us to participate? What intrinsically pushes us to want to engage in a task? For over forty years, Dr. Edward Deci and Dr. Richard Ryan have worked with hundreds of psychologists and behavioural specialists to develop Self Determination Theory, the theory of human motivation. Motivation is described by Deci as, “Doing an activity with a sense of interest, enjoyment, and value” (Ryan & Deci, 2017, p. 36). Self Determination Theory identifies three universal human needs that must be met for motivation to occur. These needs are autonomy, competence, and relatedness (Ryan & Deci, 2017; Wehmeyer & Shogren, 2017).

About a year ago I started applying Self Determination Theory to the planning and facilitation of my workshops. I’ve noticed three improvements:

Attendees achieved deeper levels of synthesis
More ‘heads-down’ task engagement
Increased teamwork
This talk will explain how to apply Self Determination Theory’s universal human needs—autonomy, competence, and relatedness—to a workshop setting. Viewers will receive practical tips to improve workshop planning and facilitation.

Ryan, R. M., Deci, E. L. (2017). Self-determination theory: Basic psychological needs in motivation, development, and wellness. New York: Guilford Publishing
Wehmeyer, M., Shogren, K. (2017). Development of self-determination through the life-course. Springer: London.10.1007/978-94-024-1042-6.


August 28, 2020

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