Concepts: What is Motivation?


Approaches in adult LN (7)

What is it?

Motivation refers to our reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way

Can we dig a little deeper?

In education, motivation usually involves goals and requires some kind of action. Action requires effort and persistence.

And effort and persistence are things that tutors often report is lacking among some adult learners, particularly those struggling with adult literacy and numeracy issues.

Your learners are either motivated internally or externally. Hopefully, they are motivated to learn. But they may be motivated to do other things.

The internal – or intrinsic – motivation is the best kind when applied to learning. Self-confidence plays a big part. Here’s the conversation happening inside their heads:

  • “This will make me happy”
  • “This is important”
  • “What I’m learning is significant”
  • “This is going to make me a better person”

External motivation comes into play when a student is compelled to do something or act a certain way because of factors external to him or her. Pressure to complete a course or get good marks are examples of external motivation.

The problem with external motivation is that it often causes anxiety. And anxiety gets in the way of good learning and teaching.

How does this help describe a learner-centred teaching environment?

Because we know that our learners are not always internally motivated, talking about internal motivation allows us to describe a learner-centred teaching environment, as opposed to a more traditional one.

As teachers, we sometimes need to help create the conditions around our learners that allow them to become motivated. And this can be hard.

But it’s important to think about how to do this because many of our learners are compelled to come to our classes.

This raises another issue – self determination, or tino rangatiratanga. We’ll explore this later too. For now, it’s enough to note that learners who have little or no ability to make choices about what they’re learning and how they’re doing it are more likely to feel like any chance of success is out of their control.

This leads them to feel that they will fail and therefore stop trying. This, of course, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Over time, a vicious cycle of low achievement develops.

Also, some learners who appear to be unmotivated or poor performers may need their motivation to come from a group sense of community, purpose and competence in order to engage. This may be true for Māori, Pasifika and other groups.

A couple of last things…

Physical exercise increases motivation. Students (and tutors) who do any kind of exercise are more likely to feel a more positive outlook, have more of a desire to learn new knowledge, have better concentration, experience better retention of information, and

Also, one big advantage that vocational and trades tutors have is this:

  • Contextualising learning increases internal motivation (the good kind).

Contextualising literacy and numeracy is what this course is all about.

2 thoughts on “Concepts: What is Motivation?

  1. Pingback: Concepts: Thinking deeper and taking some notes | thisisgraeme

  2. Pingback: APPROACHES – New Content for the new NZCALNE Assessment 2 with ALEC | thisisgraeme

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