By Janet Schueller
Nagging. Now isn’t that just a negative word, it really gives me the heebie jeebies. I’ve spent my entire adult, married life and life as a parent attempting to avoid “nagging” or being a “nag”. I even resent the idea that I might be perceived as a “nagger”. And if I’m honest, I resent the times when I feel that I have to “nag” in order to get results. So what do you ask, does “nagging” have to do with getting students to complete?
Well, recently on my 45 minute drive to and from work, I was intrigued by a report of a recent research article that suggested the biggest impact or predictor of high school students completing high school turned out to be a “nagging mother”. Now doesn’t that just beat all?!? I thought to myself, is it possible that after all my attempts to not do this, this was my “job” or role as a mother all along? After all, aren’t parents supposed to “do anything” if it’s in the best interest of their children? I began to gnaw on these thoughts. What implications are there for me as a nursing educator?
As part of my preparation for this blog, I decided to look up the definition for nagging and this is what I found. According to Wikipedia, nagging is defined as repetitious behavior in the form of pestering, to annoy … The word is derived from the Scandinavian nagga, which means “to gnaw” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nagging (Links to an external site.), retrieved today. The Macmillan Dictionary suggests that nagging involves frequently (Links to an external site.) asking (Links to an external site.) or telling (Links to an external site.) someone to do something in a way that annoys (Links to an external site.) them; affecting (Links to an external site.) you in an unpleasant (Links to an external site.) way for a long time and difficult (Links to an external site.) to get rid (Links to an external site.) of, Macmillan Dictionary retrieved 10/14/16. http://www.macmillandictionary.com/us/dictionary/american/nagging (Links to an external site.). Interesting isn’t it!?!
In an unrelated event, my Summer Jam Practicum group had an impromptu discussion about redundancy and completion rates/ success rates during our second huddle. Mark graciously shared his journey experience and conversion to understanding the relationship between redundancy and student completion. We talked about the importance of redundancy and reminding students of upcoming expectations, assignments, due dates etc. in order to improve their success and retention within a class.
But where does redundancy end and “hand-holding” begin? At what point do we let the student take accountability? These are still the questions that linger and I continue to gnaw over. But if the research that supports the importance of a “nagging mother” is to be believed, then let’s take a look at the word nagging again to see if there are lessons we can learn without the negativity. This brings me to look at the words within the definitions above; repetitious, pester, annoy and to gnaw. These words suggest the following elements: persistence, repetition or redundancy and providing a motivation to change behavior even in the absence of internal motivation. We know from research that repetition builds proficiency. For example, having students repeat a skill over and over increases the likelihood of success and building mastery of this skill more quickly. So if we apply this concept to the act of redundancy within a class, will we not increase the likelihood of their success and mastery of the skill, which in this case is time management that leads to student success? I’m sure that redundancy and reminding students could seem annoying to some, I find it annoying to have to nag. However, if it improves their success, isn’t that an acceptable consequence?
My conclusion is that however unlikely the relationship between nagging and completing, I find them to be a likely, or at least believably connected. The research results suggest being supportive of Mark’s experience with redundancy and the importance for educators to be as persistent as students are in doing things that facilitate student success.