A formula for motivation to learn

When you were at school, the learning you were offered was probably broad and diverse in its content and style. If you ever asked why you were learning something, unless you had one of those special teachers who took the trouble to relate the learning to your needs, the answer you were probably given was a version of "just in case" or "because it's in the syllabus." Consequently, you learned things that you have probably never used since. In some cases that may have felt wonderful. For example, some people recall learning Latin with great pleasure, even though it has only enabled them to be a little more certain now about the meaning of certain French or Spanish words. Others might say that they did not enjoy and have found no subsequent use for the ancient languages they learned at school. It is all a matter of opinion.

In today's world and as an adult lifelong learner, you will probably be much more likely to adopt a "just in time" approach, learning things as and when you need to.

I want to suggest a way of looking at motivation to learn. In developing this, I have been particularly influenced by two British researchers, Andrea Spurling and Jim Smith, authors of Lifelong Learning: Riding the Tiger, through working with them on research into this area for the Campaign for Learning. Consider the following formula:

♦ R is the amount of readiness to learn, as described in Chapter 2.

♦ V is the anticipated value of the learning. This could be financial, social, or cultural.

♦ P is the probability of the learning being successful. This will depend on previous experience, on your perceived effectiveness as a learner, on the degree to which the learning you are being offered matches your learning style, and on your likely ability to overcome any barriers along the way.

♦ I is the likely impact of the learning on your life. This could be in terms of the opportunities it will create, the likelihood of dealing with some external change, or the degree to which, if you can acquire the learning, you will be markedly more fulfilled as an individual.

♦ M is the amount of motivation you have toward a particular learning opportunity.

So, if you were really ready to learn, if what you were planning to learn was extremely valuable to you, if you thought you were likely to be able to do it, and if you also thought that the learning might significantly improve your life, you would be well motivated.

In reality, you will feel different degrees of motivation about different learning options. You certainly do not go round calculating this mathematically; nor should you. But, if you are serious about becoming a competent learner, you may find this formula useful. It may at least help you to explain why you are feeling motivated or not. The formula also gives you a way of working out the relevance of the learning to your particular life stage.

Or, to put another way, it determines the WIIFM factor, the "What's in it for me?" element. This is Charles Handy's "proper selfishness" in the quotation at the start of this chapter.

Apply the motivation formula to something that you are thinking of learning. What does it tell you about your motivation? Use the chart below to help you do this:

Readiness

+

Value

+

Probability

+

Impact

=

Motivation

Put ticks or a rating out of ten under each of the first four headings and then see how many ticks or how close your number is to 40 in the last box.

How To Accomplish More In A Fraction Of The Time

How To Accomplish More In A Fraction Of The Time

The pace and intensity of our lives, both at work and at home, leave several of us feeling like a person riding a frantically galloping horse. Our day-to-day incessant busyness too much to do and not enough time; the pressure to produce and check off items on our to-do list by each day’s end seems to decide the direction and quality of our existence for us.

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