Monday, 28 September 2015

Motivation Is The Key to Success

In learning, motivation is the key to success. Students who are not motivated to learn generally do not fare well. But there are various kinds of motivation.
A student can be highly motivated because he is curious or interested in a subject, or he wants to gain the approval of his parents or teachers. If it is the former, he is said to be intrinsically motivated: He acts for the fun of achieving something he really cares for, and not because he is afraid of losing face or being punished.
From birth, humans are generally active, curious and ready to learn and discover. This innate motivation is the key to growth and development, and our self-directed ability to survive. It is this interest in novelty and being creative that leads to success in life.
Motivation can be enhanced or diminished by outside value. One student does his homework because he worries about his parents’ reaction; another wants to do well in school so he can pursue a particular path. Both are eternally motivated, but they are different in critical ways: One does his work out of fear, the other for a goal.
Since most school subjects are not intrinsically interesting, how do we motivate students to value these endeavours?
Positive feedback about competence increases self-directed motivation, whereas negative performance feedback diminishes it. But importantly, good feedback must also be accompanied by a sense of independence in order to result in increased self-directed motivation.
Large-scale studies have shown that tangible rewards and threats diminish self-directed motivation, partly because they are perceived as reducing independence and increasing outside control. Conversely, choice and opportunity enhance motivation by promoting independence.
Classroom studies in schools show that teachers who promote independent thinking catalyse greater curiosity and motivation. Students who are excessively controlled lose creativity and learn less well, especially when learning is complex or requires abstract, creative dispensation. Children of parents who support independent thinking do better in terms of creativity and curiosity.
In the long term, when the reasons for an action are internalised and assimilated by an individual, even extrinsically motivated actions can become intrinsic. A person might get involved with an activity because of, say, a reward. But that exposure might lead the person to develop an interest that by itself provides satisfaction.
Conversely, an individual who liked the value of an activity could lose interest because of a controlling teacher. He could then move back to where the only reason for taking part would be for external reward.

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