Motivation in Learning

stock-photo-men-holding-the-word-motivat-1116851This is a subject that’s been on my mind for the last couple of years – not so much in relation to school/academics or work/career, but more about my physical health. I sustained an injury about 3 years ago that really limited my ability to be active, and was my first experience with chronic pain. About a year ago, I was finally healed enough to be active again, but I didn’t go back to the gym, or to the ultimate field, or to my long distance runs. I knew I should be doing all those things, but I just didn’t do them. I recognized I was severely lacking in motivation.

My biggest takeaways from that experience is that without motivation we will not achieve anything, but also that we need to be *ready* – we need to *want* to achieve what it is we’re attempting. This might be a bit of a chicken vs the egg conundrum (which came first) – if we want something, we are now motivated, so they come hand in hand.

The biggest drivers of motivation for me are value and relevance. Students will not be motivated to learn unless they can see what’s in it for them – what value with the education bring to their lives? How will it be relevant to what they want to do?

I think this is what’s challenging for instructors who are teaching students who can’t see the value, or *know* it’s not relevant to their life or career. I think back to some of my high school classmates who were completely apathetic and bored in their classes on a daily basis because they were going to be electricians and outdoor guides and didn’t care a whit about writing an essay on Shakespeare. Even in programs that have mandatory requirements, this is a problem – you’re interested in the overall subject, but some curriculum designer has made a decision that you need to learn about some tangential competency and you can’t understand the logic behind that.

Here is some food for thought!

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