Trends and Roles Discussion and Insights – Reflecting on the question, “How can we motivate students to want to be successful?

Examining the role of the educator working with adult learners and looking at the trends related to that role is the focus of the first post on this blog. In discussion with a learning partner (A link to her blog is here: https://backpackingthroughadulteducation.wordpress.com/about/), we decided that motivation, engagement, inspiration and how to help students want to succeed were all important aspects of the learning relationship that we wanted to examine. Motivation became the theme that interested us both.

We narrowed our focus to ask the question, “What motivates students to want to succeed?”

I found 2 articles to help me support my enquiry, which are posted on my resources page.

Reflections

New Insights:

Adult educators have a huge influence in motivating learners to gain success. The role of educator is varied, and there is a need to be ever-changing and dynamic. I have learned that to help motivate learners to be successful, educators need to strive to make teaching content relevant to the adult learner, and it needs to be taught in a way that makes it seem useful and directly applicable to their profession. (Robertson, 2013). I have learned that the role of educator needs to be reflective, adaptable, and flexible. Instructors need to be able to take a step back from directive and overly detailed instruction and allow students to be more autonomous and become partners in the learning process. (Robertson, 2013) This role adaptability assists in stimulating intrinsic motivation and the desire to succeed.

This review made me consider that continual reflection and evaluation of my role as an educator will hopefully inspire learners to want to succeed. My enthusiasm and adapting content to present in a language that they understand and can apply might spark their interest, want to be present in the learning relationship and engage in what I am teaching. The role of educator as a learning partner for student success was the most meaningful new insight I gained while researching the topic of learner motivation.

Trends:

As I considered that the role of educator needs to be reflective to help motivate students’ desire to be successful, I realized some of the trends in teaching that support adult learners motivation. The trend of ‘mindfulness’ is present in every profession. The definition of mindfulness, according to Google, is “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” I discovered that mindfulness in assisting learners to be successful and motivated to learn, is a current trend in adult education.

Mindfulness technique used at the beginning of each class, and after a break, was shown to be helpful in aiding students focus and attend to course materials. (Crumley and Schutz, 2011) The mindfulness exercise helped to set aside the cognitive and emotional stimuli that can distract adult learners during classroom teaching. Additional focus on what is being taught and being engaged in the content will help motivate learners. It was discussed in the article that mindfulness would also benefit the instructor, providing a more concentrated focus while teaching. If a learner’s intrinsic motivation is stimulated by an instructor making content and teaching styles more relevant, then adopting a current trend like using mindfulness techniques to create focus should also help a learner’s motivation to want to be successful.

I reflected on my teaching and how I engage and motivate adult learners. I would like to learn more about techniques to provide a focused and engaged classroom, and then observe if students feel more motivated…would this lead to greater success in the course?

Web-conference:

The final part of this enquiry of how to motivate learners to want to succeed was to have a web-conference with my learning partner. This was a beneficial experience that gave insight into how two people can research the same question, and come up with diverse resources that compliment our varied experiences and needs. I enjoyed discussing and reflecting on the learning. It was interesting to hear about the articles that she found, and what was most meaningful from each. My learning partner facilitates an on-line course, and my experience is mainly in a simulation lab or classroom, but despite these differences in learning environments, we face similar challenges motivating the learners we are working with.

The one thing that I learned about from my partner was that as an educator for adults, it is important to consider each learner as an individual. One who may have distractions, various challenges going on in their lives, and whose main priority may not be the course that you are teaching. I learnt that there are accessible resources that give practical tips on how to motivate these learners and strategies to stimulate intrinsic motivation. One of the articles she chose, http://info.shiftelearning.com/blog/what-motivates-adult-learners, resonated with me as a resource I might use.

I was impressed how my learning partner was able to take elements of her articles and relate to them from her personal experience. Our discussion encouraged me to think about how my research directly relates to my personal experience, maybe motivating me to success!

References:

Motivating Students with Teaching Techniques that Establish Relevance, Promote Autonomy. (2013). Retrieved April 08, 2016, from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/motivating-students-with-teaching-techniques-that-establish-relevance-promote-autonomy/

Crumley, G., & Schutz, H. (2011). Short-Duration Mindfulness Training with Adult Learners. Adult Learning, 22(2), 37-42. doi:10.1177/104515951102200206

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