How To Tap The Power of Learner Motivation

The Power of Learner Motivation
Summary: Everyone wants employees to be engaged and interested in learning, but what impact does motivation actually have on learning? It turns out that the mindset you approach a task with greatly influences your performance. Discover how you can intrinsically motivate learners and optimize performance.

How You Can Intrinsically Motivate Learners and Optimize Performance.

We all like to believe that we can't be persuaded by advertising or external attempts to influence how and what we think. While I certainly wish this were true, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence supporting the opposite view. A slight difference in how something is framed can greatly influence your reactions and how you process things. When it comes to eLearning, how you frame the course might be just as important as the content within the course. A study from 1995 provides us with a great example of this.

Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson conducted a study in which they sought to measure the impact of people’s initial mindsets on their performance in certain situations. They had African-American and European-Americans take the Graduate Record Examination and divided them into two groups. One group was told that the test would measure intelligence, while the other group was told the test was non-diagnostic of ability. 

The results showed that the European-Americans performed about the same when told the study was a measure of their intelligence and the African-American students, primed by stereotype threat, performed significantly worse when told the test would measure intelligence. The African-American students, when told the test was a measure of intelligence, feared they would confirm a negative stereotype, thus their initial mindsets created a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The study, as well as several others similar to it, prove that the mental attitude that you approach anything with makes a difference. As this applies to eLearning development, it's not enough to create great courses and content, but you also have to frame the course in a way that motivates leaners toward optimized performance. 

How To Tap Into Intrinsic Motivation

  1. Create desire
    You need to sell the problem before you offer the solution. To create desire in the learner, show them what they'll be able to do once they complete the course. Will one of their current tasks be easier to perform after the training? Will they be able to use new software that will make their job easier? Showing the end result opens up a gap in desire. It's the same concept weight-loss commercials use.
  2. Set proper expectations
    At the start of every course, it's important to properly frame the course. If you present the course as being really fun and easy to complete when in reality it is neither, you'll lose credibility and find yourself with disengaged learners.Learning does not always have to be fun, but it always has to be useful. If the course is supposed to be difficult and a challenge, learners should be aware of that. Knowing that struggling with the material is normal can help minimize anxiety and work toward reducing the emotional barriers in learning. 

These are only two of the many ways to intrinsically motivate learners. For additional ways to keep your learners engaged and intrinsically motivated, download the free resource: 5 Ways to Intrinsically Motivate Learners (without rewards).