How Do We Keep Learners Motivated?

Last night, I started to read the assigned textbook for my Teaching Adults class. So far, it has been a very enjoyable read, at least as much as textbooks can be enjoyable reads.

As I work my way through this text, I would like to share my thoughts and observations with you over a series of posts.

As I start to read this book, it becomes clear that the author believes learning centers around motivation. If we, as instructors, can understand what motivates a learner, we can enhance learning. However, if we ignore motivation and teach in a manner that inhibits motivation, learning will suffer.

Wlodkowski (2008, p. 2) points out that “Motivation is basic to our survival.” Our success hinges on our motivation. If we are interested and motivated about a subject, there is a greater chance we will learn it.  This is applicable to the learners we work with.

Wlodkowski seems to question the need to grade on participation. He goes on to point out that various cultures handle interaction and participation differently, and as instructors, we need to be aware and account for such differences.

In the first chapter, the author clearing points out research which shows a strong positive correlation between motivation and learning. He also notes that the highest correlations increase with age.

Have you ever noticed that when learners are motivated, the class runs more smoothly. Have you also noticed when students are not motivated or are uninterested, then teaching is a chore. I certainly would prefer to be working with people who want to learn with me.  There are also some other benefits of motivated learners: they are more focused, more cooperative, and stay on task longer.

Wlodkowski addresses the biological process to learning, at least, as well as we understand it. Perhaps the key take away from this section is that connections are strengthened through repetition. It takes more energy for someone to learn something new than it is to build on previous experience. Therefore, it is important to learn about your students so you can tie instruction to their experiences.

People want to learn, they want to improve their craft and livelihood. Learning should be a positive experience, positive experiences lead to lifelong learning.

As instructors, we can not do anything to students to make them learn, they will learn if they are motivated to accept the information provided. However, we can create the right conditions and environment to help them learn. Learning should be a collaborative event, where instructors work with learners.

How do you help motivate your students?

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