Who Motivates Learning: Trainer or Learner?

Who Motivates Learning: Trainer or Learner?

Motivate Learning

Motivation can be defined as a driving force that guides the steps of an individual in a particular direction. This is the reason for the accomplishment of the greatest inventions in the world. It is behind all our endeavors, major or minor. I would not have written this blog if I had not been motivated. Or, for that matter, you would not be reading this blog, if you were not motivated enough.

However, the source and the degree of motivation differ. Depending on these two aspects, the intensity of our effort to achieve our set objective varies. Motivation comes in many forms and directions. You push yourself to finish a task because at the end of it you will get a reward; or perhaps you get punished in case you fail to do so in a specific time period; or because you love doing it or the prestige that is attached to its accomplishment. All these are different types of motivation. The former two are termed as extrinsic motivation and the latter intrinsic motivation.

As for learners, I think both the types of motivation are necessary for keeping them on the path of continuous learning. This is because coercion and necessity can also work as great motivational forces for learners to learn a concept or skill, apart from their passion or interest. However, in a classroom, the greater responsibility rests with instructors to keep their students motivated in learning activities.

Trainers can Rouse Learners’ Interest

I have read stories of great trainers who exerted remarkable influence on their students. It is thanks to such trainers that some of the great inventors realized their potential in a subject which had until then been a mystery. When we study about such trainers, we realize that they have an inexplicable power to capture their learners’ imagination. They take their learners to a colorful world and keep them there until they get immersed and never like to return.

Of course, all the trainers may not have been born with such powers but today they have various means, offered by technological advancements in the field of education. They can blend some of these into their mode of instruction to sustain learners’ interest.

Trainers can Allay fears and Instill Confidence

A trainer’s role cannot be dispensed with by limiting it to removing apprehensions and instilling confidence in learners. In case of tricky subjects or concepts, trainers can divide the tasks into manageable units and facilitate early success. This instills a sense of achievement in learners and sustains their interest.

Internal or Self-Motivation

This is the most crucial to keep learners on track. With this, a learner can create his or her direction, regardless of motivation from the trainer. All one needs to do is to keep trapped or excited about the learning task. Sometimes, an individual may not like a concept but must learn it to improve his or her career prospects. In such a case, he should commit himself to his instructor or boss that he will learn it by a certain specific time. With such strategies, coupled with positive reinforcements, a person can reach his learning objectives and achieve career success.

It is sure that with internal motivation, a learner can push himself to action, regardless of the situation. However, there are times that he may feel less inspired to a learning activity. It is here that his external motivation comes into play. It obliges the learner to finish the task and he gets the desired results. Thus, both internal and external motivations are necessary for a learner.

Do share your thoughts on the same.

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  • Michael J. Spangle

    I have read this article with considerable interest. What I draw from this is that, even when a learner is called upon to motivate themselves in the learning activity, the Instructor has an obligation to create an environment that maximizes the chances that this will occur.

    One of the things that I was taught going through my Instructor training is that every adult learner tunes into the same radio station when they are told that they will be going for training. That radio station has the call letters of WII FM, as in “What’s In It For Me?”. Part of how we as Instructors/Trainers/Facillitators/Coaches can increase the likelihood of the trainee becoming self-motivated is by answering that question. We can clearly communicate the value of the training. It helps here if, in the process of preparing the material for presentation, the curriculum designer put a “hook” statement that reads something like, “The purpose of this training is to…”

  • Dinesh V Divekar

    Asma Zainab has given following reasons of motivation to learn:

    a) Trainers can Rouse Learners’ Interest
    b) Trainers can Allay fears and Instill Confidence
    c) Internal or Self-Motivation

    Of the above three, I consider (c) as the most important. 90% learning depends on this factor.

    For Michael: – I have little differences with you as far as your “WII FM” theory is concerned. Whenever some training course is declared, in the training course its objectives are also mentioned. Learner is expected to read them and understand value.

    Secondly, here HR or Training department has a much role to play. While nominating some staffs for particular training course, they must properly communicate the importance of the training programme e.g. “The training course is conducted to increase ____ or decrease _____” or “we incur expenses of _____ in ____ department. By taking this course, we expect you to bring down this expenditure by ___ %”

    If the goal statement is properly communicated, then it gives boost to the learning.

    What Asma has not mentioned is mechanism to ensure that the learning is implemented. If this is missing or nobody is there to monitor, then obviously the participants take the learning nonchalantly. Participant must be told in advance that the cost of this training is _____. Of this cost,amount of ____ is apportioned to you. Audit will be conducted after ____ months to check whether you have that amount to company or not.

    When HR/Training department does its homework properly, see the effects of training, whether trainer arouse interest or not!

  • Amanda Boonzaaier

    I have enjoyed reading the article and comments on learner motivation! I would like to add another role player to the success of adult learning in the working envirnment and that is the motivating role of the line manager/ leader. One of the biggest challenges is to go back to a working enviroment after some good training and then face the challenge of implementing these new skills/ attitudes or knowledge in the chaos of reality…

    Where you have a line manager who is actively involved with the learner, re-inforcing the learning principles, supporting the learner in applying the new competency (e.g. by creating opportunities for application) as well as providing positive feedback and encouragement to the learner when the desired (new) behaviour or skill is observed, you will find true learning transfer (ROI), fulfilment and growth!

  • There is a very interesting observation of whether the internal (intrisic) motivation is more important than the external (extrinsic) – my answer is “it depends.” That is, it depends on the invidvidual’s greater attention to (or value they place on) their intrinsic or extrinsic thinking. For example, if they have a higher attention to their intrinsic dimension of thinking, they can be driven by the uniqueness, love, and connection the learning or accomplishment brings. However, if their extrinsic thinking is more dominant, the rewards, recognition, and “what’s in it for me” is more likely to motivate them.

    Therefore the trainer or coach who recognizes the the motivations (values) of their learners/students more succintly will have a greater possibilty to influence and effect change. And to Amanda’s key point, when a manager or supervisor understands the learner’s true motivations, there is a greater possibility for the learner to be successful in applying the new knowledge, skills or ablility with their manager’s influence.

    Of course, the learner’s third dimension of systemic thinking can also play a role regarding the boundaries in which the learning or accomplishment takes place. A time for another discussion perhaps.

  • M. Asif Comboh

    Thank u ALL…..

    All comments are very valid, full of knowledge and making sense….

  • Motivation is a very interesting topic and one that often seems simple on the surface but actually has more complexity when you examine it more deeply. Those who enjoy and derive inspiration and learning from resources like the Ted Talks may already have seen Dan Pink’s talk (or indeed, read some of this books). I mention the Ted Talk because it provides a very approachable and engaging way to start rethinking the ways in which many of us were raised to understand motivation. As he puts it, “we need a new operating system” to improve performance via motivation in the 21st century. (http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/dan_pink_on_motivation.html)

    What Dan Pink expresses as Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose stems from very interesting psychological research in both university and enterprise settings. The Department of Psychology at the University of Rochester is working with research psychologists around the world on an area of work named Self Determination Theory. (http://www.psych.rochester.edu/SDT/index.php) Their site has both introductory level explanations of the theory and its sub-theories as well as a large number of research papers concerning the theory in different contexts. In SDT they speak of Autonomy, Competence and Relatedness instead of the terms Dan Pink uses.

    In short, there is not an “either/or” case for relying on intrinsic or extrinsic motivation in all circumstances, but understanding when and why each approach may be more successful is very important. The work does favour intrinsic motivation in areas where learning is concerned and differentiates the types of activities in which intrinsic or extrinsic motivation may be more useful. Their work states that extrinsic motivation is often used as a motivator for either instrumental tasks or tasks that we would not otherwise do. More useful applications of extrinsic motivation are those that lead to internalization.

    A simple appreciation of what is required to understand motivation differently is easy to achieve. Understanding more deeply how the theories play out in people and organisations, and therefore, one could argue, how we build and deploy systems to support learning, requires more detailed thought and engagement, but has the potential to dramatically change learning in organisations and how we bring both formal and informal learning together.

    I hope this is useful in your discussions.