Preparing for Instruction 3: Motivation

Motivation just so happens to be one of my favourite topics. Through my leadership roles over the years, I’ve had the experience of working with different personalities and levels of motivation. Just like personalities, not two people are quite a like. Managing this in the workplace and classroom can be a bit of an art form.

Both in management and training, engagement is key. The lesson connections learners have to material, the less engaged they appear, and eventually that motivation will slowly seep away. Understanding what motivates individuals is important. You can tailor your content to make connections what motivates the learner. Understanding what is interesting and important is just as important, as this can allow you to create engaging material that keeps motivation high.

Extrinsic and intrinsic motivators are two key concepts within the field of motivation studies in psychology, education, and even management. Extrinsic motivators are those that are external to the learner. These are external rewards, such as better job prospects or financial rewards. Intrinsic motivators, on the other hand, are internal to the learner. These can be things like ‘learning for the sake of learning’. Social connections can be both extrinsic or intrinsic, as it could both be from an internal need to socialize or for the need of external status recognition.

There is much debate on whether intrinsic or extrinsic motivators are more important in education. Adult learners could certainly be motivated by both at any given time. Any group of adult learners could reveal a mixture of both extrinsic and intrinsically motivated learners. Getting to know your class and what motivates them on an individual level can help you enable the success of all learners.

However, teachers cannot control motivation of learners. They can create engaging environments and material, but this does not guarantee learner motivation. This is the core discussion of the following article:

This article explores the phenomena of low online learning completion rates among adult learners. In some circumstances, completion rates for online classes amongst adults is 30%, while traditional classroom is over 85%. The main reason for this is lack of interaction. In a traditional classroom environment, students interact with the teacher and students. However, there are few opportunities for interactions online. Course designers can attempt to create more engaging platforms—videos, rather than just series of pages, discussion boards—to increase interaction.

Even if course platforms were more engaging, this would not guarantee motivation. Learners will naturally compare their experiences with traditional classroom, so interactions will still come up short. This does not mean the online learning industry is doomed. Rather, more development is needed. In an earlier post, I discussed Coursera and the work they are doing with MOOCs. Engaging and interactive platforms are key and many progressive developments being released constantly.

I was actually really surprised to hear that adults have low completion rates online. I personally love this style of learning. I even find them more engaging. Discussions and blogs are common assignments and I find the discussion more thoughtful and productive than my experiences in some classroom environments. The flexibility of online fits my life and I would have assumed many adults feel the same way.

Anyways, to leave on a motivational note, here’s one of my favourite TED talks of all time. Dan Ariely discusses what motivates us about work. His examples and studies give a good demonstration of the effects of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation:




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