Tip #967: Motivational Learning Techniques

There are seven factors that increase learner motivation:

  1. Extrinsic to Intrinsic Motivation. When a participant approaches learning to achieve some result (such as a grade or certification), the participant is operating from a more extrinsic (or external) motivation. Intrinsic (or internal) motivation exists when the participant’s primary goal is the satisfaction of learning itself.  The following techniques can increase intrinsic motivation.
  2. Success. In order to feel successful, one must expend effort and have a certain degree of uncertainty about the outcome. Participant success is responsive to two factors which the trainer controls: first, the level of difficulty of the learning task and second, the teaching skills that will make the participants’ learning more probable.
  3. Knowledge of Results. The amount, specificity and immediacy of the feedback that participants receive directly affects their performance of a newly learned skill or technique. When participants find out they are doing well, what needs to be improved, what to do to improve it, and then feel that there is a reasonable probability that they can improve it- they are motivated to try to accomplish that improvement.
  4. Confidence. If participants are to succeed, they must believe that when they expend effort- something they completely control- they will experience success. If, however, participants believe that success or failure is the result of ability, task difficulty, or luck- factors over which they have limited control- then there is no point in putting forth a lot of effort.
  5. Interest. Interest in the learning task has been demonstrated to affect a participant’s intention to learn. The trainer can promote interest in two ways. First, the trainer can use the participants’ interest in themselves. Second, the material can be made more interesting by accentuating the novel or vivid.
  6. Concern. The participant’s level of concern relates to how much the participant cares about learning. A moderate level of concern is necessary to increase the participant’s effort to learn. The level of concern can be raised or lowered as needed to increase the learning effort.
  7. Feeling. The way a participant feels in a particular situation affects the amount of effort that participant is willing to put forth to achieve learning. Participants are most inclined to put forth effort to learn if they find the learning situation pleasant and if they anticipate they will be successful (a pleasant feeling).

Think about what you can do to set participants up for success, arrange for them to receive timely knowledge of results, build their confidence, generate and maintain their interest, lower their concern first (unless you need to raise it), and ultimately create a positive feeling about their learning experience.

May your learning be sweet- and safe.


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