Thursday, November 1, 2012

Motivation: Can We Trigger Motivation in our Learners

I think we all had fun in class yesterday thinking about the many factors that may stimulate our learners to set a goal, extend effort even when something is difficult, and persevere in an effort to accomplish a learning goal.  We found that it is more than just the difficulty of the goal, it is also how we feel about ourselves. Do we think we can do it?  It is the goal itself; is it something we value?  What are the consequences of meeting the goal; will there be fame and fortune?  I've never understood when friends or colleagues would not try something new until this year when  a colleague of mine wanted me to try working with avatars.  You know, I just did not want to learn this.  I didn't perceive that I wanted to use the time I have to learn this new IT trick.  Maybe it is the first sign of getting old, I hope not, but this is the first time that I can remember that I was not motivated to learn something new.  Have you ever felt like that?  Is that how our students feel?  What can we do when they do?

18 comments:

Elias Traboulsi said...

I recently participated in teaching a short course on the role of hospital faculty members in teaching professionalism to medical trainees. There were different components of the course, including a didactic component that was quite dry, some role modeling interactive segments, and a discussion of cases in which there were examples of non-professional behaviors by trainees. While I tried to capture the attention of my audience by an exercise ahead of the didactic component, according to some of the feedback I received, the case discussions were in fact what peaked the interest of the audience the most. Examples from real-life situations, especially ones that touch the audience in their daily professional lives appear to elicit the most interest and engage them in wanting to learn more about their underlying causes and the appropriate remediating interventions. The next time I teach this course, I will try to start with a pertinent case as a "hook". I have done this in other instances in which I was teaching on clinical topics, and this was always well received.

Richard Prayson said...

Motivation to learn varies from person to person and is certainly dependent on a variety of factors-perceived value/incentive, personal factors/stressors, ease of access, perceived effort expenditure, and beliefs about self-efficacy or likelihood to succeed or fail. I think it would be an unusual person who doesn't have varying levels of motivation to learn for different activites. For myself, computor technology is an area where I struggle to find motivation to learn; I don't believe I'm good at it, fear making mistakes and don't often appreciate the added value (I've managed to do alot of things without a computor up to this point in my life). I know that there are a subgroup of medical students who share similar sentiments, despite the fact that they grew up with ready access to computors. I find that if there are approriate supports in place and it's clear that they are in place and usable, I'm more likely to engage. As a teacher, I think it's useful to create a sense of support for the learner, a sense that it's OK to fail while learning (the consequences won't be terrible) and a sense that it's OK to be a bit reticent. I often find that if I can pair computor learning with something else that I am more motivated to learn about then I am more likely to participate. Sometimes, I find there is often more of a sense of accomplishment when I succeed with learning that started off with low motivation- perhaps related to overcoming more obstacles to learning. Perceived value is a crucial underlying premise to deliberate learning; the teacher's role includes sharing his or her perspective on the value to the learner. How that value is perceived by the learner is probably not always understood or able to be impacted by the teacher.

Brian Burkey said...

I just finished spending a weekend at our academic society's annual meeting. We spent the entire two days talking about how to improve education in our specialty for medical students, residents and faculty. What an energizing time!! We had over 200 academic faculty from around the country and we all agreed this was our favorite meeting because it is the one time we can focus on teaching and its related activities and not on more mundane practice issues. It engages our passion and we enjoy that and connect with one another's similar passion and ideas. So, how do we do that with learners who may not share the same passions?
One idea is that we can share our passions with them, and help generate and foster their interest in the subjects we teach. We need to show them the utility of such knowledge and skills and the inherent worth of such knowledge and skills. We need to be enthusiastic ourselves and use our authentic emotions to be infectious. Sometimes this may take some extra energy, but it is energy that we can then share with our students. We can let them know of our hope that they will likewise engage in the process and enjoy it. This will facilitate us inspiring them to aspire to more knowledge and, with our support, they can then initiate their own knowledge construction. Essentially, we can "lead them to the well and help them drink". This fits in well with the Sitkin-Lind leadersip model, as applied to learning theory. I don't know if it will work always, but I'll give it a try.

Anonymous said...

David Wheeler

Motivation:
Motivation is a highly contextual and complex state that can be internally or externally triggered, manifested or exhibited. Internal motivation, that fire within the learner, is always preferred yet it seems increasingly difficult to sustain. I think this was an outstanding presentation and I came away with the notion that we must, as instructors be a catalyst for internal motivation and come up with strategies to externally motivate students. The healthcare environment has an advantage in that our students generally have met with positive reinforcements to prior educational experiences. We encounter, on a daily basis, lifelong learners who are highly skilled professionals and their sense of internal motivation, for the most part, seems to be highly developed. I appreciate greatly the breakdown of a goal oriented motivational model this will be extremely helpful in skill acquisition oriented classes. I found the work of Bandura interesting in that it sets the stage for motivational-based teaching and affirmative in that it reinforces our understanding of what motivates our students. Keller’s Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction; motivational model may structure the work of Bandura. This made it more relevant and gave it greater utility in the clinical classroom. Indeed, this class had a pragmatic edge in that it demonstrated the relevance of motivational theory and gave me the tools to inform my teaching in a way that is immediate and relevant.

Anonymous said...

Kathy Baker

I feel motivation is something that comes from within, while the extermal force from a teacher, friend, or colleague is more of an encouragement or convincing factor. Motivation can be sparked and encouraged through outside factors, but ultimately I feel motivation comes from within the individual person. I personally have always been willing to try new tasks and learn new things, even if I was a bit hesitant at first, because you never know it may make things easier or be rather interesting. Recently I was asked to assume an interim supervisor role within my unit and basically learned everything on the fly or through trial and error. Due to my motivation to succeed and make things more efficient, my co-interim supervisor and myself were able to have a positive impact on the unit. There were changes made during our interim phase, and we had a lot of hesitation from some of the staff members. Those individuals that were very hesitant about trying new things we spoke with or asked what their concerns were. We addressed these concerns and in some instances even altered the original idea to help accomodate and encourage willingness to participate and learn. Talking with people and providing insight from your perspective can help persuade them to look at the opportunities in front of them and potentially motivate them to learn and try new things.

Pilar Castro said...

Like many of my classmates, I think motivation is something that comes mostly from within but that also can be somehow modeled. When a group of students is performing at a high level, the other students have to keep up with them. It is the job of the teacher to try to identify who is lagging behind and provide the means to support them and help them thrive. Now, one can identify and support but it finally comes to the individual to make things happen. It has a lot to do with self efficacy, grit and resillience; it is easy to do things that we like; the challenging part comes when we need to perform well when things are difficult for us, working hard and motivating ourselves. I think that this also have to deal a lot with the hidden curriculum; the things we say, how inquisitive we are about finding answers to problems and understanding things well as staff physicians. Motivation can be modeled.

Karen George said...

Mentoring, modeling and giving proper feedback and skills for self-reflection can be factors for continued motivation. The learners we encounter are already motivated,goal oriented within their own contexts whether they be extrinsic or intrinsic or a combination. Using Keller's ARCS model and considering learner's factors are useful educator tools. Wlodkowski's integrated levels of adults learner motivation found student success dependent on having choice, students finding success, and value and enjoyment in learning. Karen

Heidi Gdovin said...

Many times there are many demands that adults have to attend to each day. I think if these demands of daily life require too much of the learner’s focus, it can decrease the internal motivation to learn new tasks and roles. However, I do believe teachers can help to trigger motivation. As others have mentioned, the concept of motivating individuals is complex, varies from person to person and is largely an internal process that can be challenging to do. However, as a teacher, I do believe it is our role to at least try to motivate our learners. Learners observe a teacher’s behaviors, so we need to model the values, attitudes and behaviors that are desired. Teachers can share their enthusiasm, encourage the learner and teachers can also help identify the extrinsic rewards for the individual. We can assist learners in setting specific, short-term, realistic goals, highlight the importance of the goal and identify the value of reaching the goal. In addition, by providing learners the opportunity to practice and learn a skill can provide confidence and increase the person’s self-efficacy to reach this goal as well as future goals. The teacher can also provide feedback on their progress and develop ways to make the learning process fun and rewarding to the learners. As teachers we do not have control over other’s thoughts and actions, but can take an active role in the learner’s experience to help provide that external motivation they may need to be successful.

Anonymous said...

Maged Argalious
One of the strategies in triggering motivation is to link the goals of the learning activity with real life applications. This link has the potential of igniting learners’ motivation.
Learners are different in the way they approach new learning activities. Some of the brightest learners have anxiety about facing new learning endeavors, not because of lack of motivation but because of fear of failing. Understanding these factors will help the teacher plan educational activities that are not only relevant but also non-threatening.
With the vast increase in learning opportunities, learners have a choice to make in which learning activities will have added value in achieving their career goals.
I too believe that a waxing and waning motivation towards learning depending on the topic is not unusual. (Statistics comes to mind)

Brian Johnson said...

Motivation is as all have said a purely internal drive. All of our students have a great deal of motivation to become professionals in their given fields. I find myself in a conundrum concern some of our learners. Those learners who come to the table to achieve a specific goal and do not see that things that may seem to be unrelated to that goal can in fact be useful. I myself dislike chronic pain management but had to take orations in it to become an anesthesiologist. I did however find aspects useful and important despite my dislike,and was therefor motivated to perform well. The question I have is how do I inspire learners to see that all the rotations we have them do have purpose, thereby motivating them to learn?

Zatarra said...

Miguel A. Morillo
How to motivate our adult learners? Sometimes I think that the reason I like teaching other adults, is because they want to learn, or at least listen to what I have to say, and I want their feedback. I think that if I have to beg them to want to learn, maybe I shouldn't be trying to teach them in the first place. I think that this might be one of my main issues that I have with the current generation. Why is it that everything has to be made easy for them? I think that sometimes hardship can be a great teacher and even better motivator than anything we can do for them sometimes. If their here to learn then they should bring their motivation with them. I do however like Keller's approach of keeping things in perspective and relevant,while giving them the possibility to try out what ever new knowledge they might of picked up, to boost satisfaction and confidence. I know that this might contrast with some of the other opinions expressed in this blog. I'm not doing this to polarize or antagonize with anyone, and I don't want to come across as insensible or distant, but I think that the students have to bring the spark to class, and I as a teacher will see that the combustibles are there for us to share, while I fan the fire till we have all reached our goals.

Anonymous said...

Matt Celmar said...


Motivating the adult learner may more difficult that it is with a child learner. Children can be motivated by the extrinsic factors that we all know (gold stars, pencils, candy, and the ever triumphant name on the board). What motivates the adult learner my well be as diverse as the learners themselves. I am always surprised when I come across an adult learner that is not as motivated as myself when I first learned the knowledge. We LLL’s tend to forget that everyone is not in it for the same reasons as we are.
Motivating the most difficult adult learner involves making it meaningful to them. This could be done with the purely behavioralist method of punishment, alternative behaviors, and extinction. But should we have to punish our learners?
Another way to prompt motivation is to create accountability. Learners do not care if they underperform in a large group or to their instructors, but they are concerned with their perception amongst their peers. Making learners accountable to their peer groups can build in a motivation to save face and not let the group down.
What creates lasting knowledge is making it meaningful to their lives and practice. Teachers who deal with stubborn learners need to put on their thinking caps in order to find what makes the knowledge important to their learners. Getting the inside out of what learners need. This may prove difficult in large groups or infrequent meetings. But, teachers acting as mentors should work to build in motivators into their content. Bring it back to the learner and show them how it applies to their life.

Rachel Steines said...

The social cognitive theory we learned about a few weeks ago is closely related to motivation. the theory emphasizes how cognitive, behavioral, personal, and environmental factors interact to determine our motivation. Depending on the situation, we may rely on one of the factors more than the other, but usually they all come into play when we are building the motivation to accomplish a goal. While learning about Keller's 4 motivational factors, I realized we have to organize our strategies in way that makes sense, so our motivation never gets outweighed by our emotions. The components of the social cognitive theory are almost the same as the theories we learned about for motivation: self-observation, evaluation, reaction, and efficacy. It is important as teachers that we try to get our students to think in efficacious manner, because if they do, they can produce the outcome they want instead of letting the outcome find them.

Anonymous said...

Felecia Roberson

Motivation, I believe to be intrinsic. We as educators can help the learner extrinsically by pairing or grouping the uninspired learner with individuals that are more enthusiastic about the topic at hand. This enables the learner to become engaged through discussion and accountability. I once taught a class where there were students there that had to be, not because they wanted to be, I knew this going in. I prepared my lesson with a fair amount of hands on projects, I lead the class with a puzzle,everyone was given a piece of the puzzle, each piece was relevent to the next, they were numbered. Students were asked to comment on their piece of the puzzle and place the piece on the board when finished, this continued until the puzzle was complete (a face). Everyone was engaged and interested despite some not wanting to be there. You will not always have success in engaging the learner that is not motivated as Knowles believes "The most potent Motivations are internal rather than external" but making the class infectious by default will help. Watch your target audience, get a feel of when you are losing someone and adjust accordingly.

Christine said...

For Shelley Frost

Most adult educators have experienced the frustration of working with participants that appear unengaged and unmotivated to learn. This class was enlightening in that within the individual they are responsible to be curious, participate (innate or not) and attempt to connect with the material presented. Motivation takes many forms of which intrinsic is the most powerful driver. However, this does not mean that educators are off the hook. The ARCS model illustrates several opportunities to further connect with learners. I would opine that all motivators, including extrinisic fear (of losing position or performance) do have a place, although should not lead the pack. Adults need to know why they need to learn and how to apply the material in their practical lives and educators should aim to include this in their course objectives along with goal setting and other tactics.

Thank you!

Christine said...

None of you will probably read this, but I had a thought reading all your entries. The thought is really a question. And the question is... How strong a motivation determiner is a certain value? Over the last few weeks I have had some physical challenges. Last week I could not attend class because it would not have been safe. The medicine I was taking to control pain made it unsafe for me to drive. The week before, I had some pain but attended. I asked myself... What was the motivating factor? What made me come in and work a 10 hour day when I really should have gone home, or not come in at all. My answer after some reflection was "responsibility", "commitment" and to a certain degree "ego". The first two are not commonly spoken about as determiners of motivation. Could this be a generational thing as I see some examples in teaching younger physicians in training of less a sense of responsibility. Both are probably modeled and internalized. I can certainly think of many examples of my teachers modeling these characteristics. Ego is easy. I believe that I add "value" to the class.so..I am responsible to be there. I'd love to hear your ideas on this.
Christine

Heidi Gdovin said...

I did read your post and I have to agree with you! I do believe personal values could be a motivating factor for individuals. After some reflection on your comments, I do believe that I feel motivation to do certain tasks or be certain places not always because I want to be there or desire to complete a certain task but because I feel a certain responsibility or commitment to do so. I am scheduled to be there, or I said I would do it, so I do. So I guess you could say one of my internal motivators is my feeling of personal responsibility and commitment to my word and what I feel is the right thing to do.

Elias Traboulsi said...

Hey Chris! I think you came because you cared about us. Period.