Motivation and Learning
The following article takes a look at motivation and it’s relationship to learning. Motivation is a powerful factor influencing learning and achievement. “Motivation” is defined as the “process whereby goal-directed activity is instigated and sustained.” Herein, we will examine the use of motivation in the classroom.
Motivation is usually classified into two broad categories, extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation is is often engaged in by students who just want to do an assignment for the sake of getting it done. Intrinsic motivation is motivation to be involved in an activity because one wants to be involved. Sometimes one can be extrinsically motivated and in this process become intrinsically motivated. Some factors that influence motivation are whether or not the topic evokes curiosity and/or promotes a challenge, or a topic that is outside the bounds of reality as it is perceived.
Quality educators want the students to learn. They want the student to be interested and find what is being taught useful. In order to acheive this, many different approaches are taken to motivate the students. Inspiring students is the core of the intention. Encouraging them through positive reinforcement can help to motivate the students. Trying to get the students interested impacts our ability to motivate. The student has to WANT to learn in order to be motivated to do so and to stay motivated.
Finding the “motivational zone of proximal development” can increase a students desire to learn. When a student understands the topic of study and is interested in learning more, then the student can make great progress. This is the ideal situation.
An educator needs to be genuine and honest. A quality educator seeks to inspire all with the same equal care. This is refered to as “unconditioned positive reward.” Our needs, our beliefs, our goals, our interests, and our emotions, all influence our motivation to learn. A student in my high school class was intelligent and capable of attaining straight A’s. He did so for years until he lost his drive and motivation. He ended up getting bad grades and he failed many classes. When he wanted to learn, he did great, but when he didn’t want to learn, he failed miserably. This shows the spirit of motivation. As educators, we want to get our students to WANT to learn. We craft our teaching approach with this intention and we teach in a manner that aligns with the students interests.
The ability to study well aligns with our need for competence. When we are studying a topic that we are interested in, we are generally able to focus harder and do better. When we are studying for the sake of situational interest, then more motivation is generally needed. Being able to alter our environment to meet the needs of our ideal atmosphere can help us focus harder on our studies. Most people want to do good, for themselves, for their families and loved ones, and also in order to avoid anxiety fueled humiliation in class.
When people awaken to life and come to appreciate the power that gives life to the universe, motivation will flow without ceasing. However, when focusing on a specific content area, such as Biology, one needs to work to get the students interested. This involves more than just talking about the content, it involves managing the classroom in a manner that is comfortable for the students and it is up to educators to work to inspire interest. This is an ongoing challenge, but with care and love and precision, inspiration will eventually manifest.