The items that were dealt with in previous chapters appear on almost all teaching rating forms. While encouraging students to be curious doesn’t appear on most such forms, comments by several of our interviewees suggest that students really appreciate instructors who attempt to do so, and it tends to cause them to rate such instructors at least a little higher than they would otherwise (a “halo” effect). Consequently, encouraging students to be curious is an appropriate topic for this book not only because it enhances their potential to contribute to society, but also because it’s likely to be a way to increase your teaching ratings.
Curiosity and exploration are linked in the psychological literature (Keller, Schneider, & Henderson, 1994; Voss & Keller, 1983). Curiosity is the stimulus, motivation, need, or drive and exploration is the result. While there is universal agreement that curiosity and exploration exist, there appears to be considerable disagreement about the mechanisms responsible for them. Some authorities tend to view the mechanisms as primarily physiological (i.e., instinctual) and others as primarily psychological (i.e., learned). Some support for the former comes from experiments on animals (including mice and rats) that appear to indicate their presence. And some support for the latter comes from observations (e.g., on young girls) that suggest not rewarding curiosity and exploratory behavior causes them to occur less often.
The curiosity-exploration sequence can be triggered by a state of uncertainty that produces psychological discomfort. It’s unlikely to be triggered