What motivates you to learn?

October 13, 2015 by Maja Tomšič Pavlič

Curiosity? Continued professional development? Promise of promotion? Motivation is not necessarily something that adults bring to learning events. They could have problems concentrating due to internal distractions (feeling hungry, tired, having a headache, being concerned about a personal problem) or external ones (others talking, noises outside the room), bad habits, boring lecturers or monotone learning methods.

We try to motivate our participants through a participatory and practical approach because we believe that it easily engages people and gives sustainable results. Its main advantages, which some experts see as motivational strategies, are:

  • Establishing inclusion
  • Developing a positive attitude
  • Enhancing meaning
  • Engendering competence


We encourage activities that establish inclusion and include sharing experiences. Due to different regional background adults are challenged to develop their own solutions. Collaborative learning enables participants and lecturers to mutually construct the solutions. For adults to feel included it is very important to create a safe environment. We do it by encouraging lecturers to listen carefully, speak from their own experience, avoid generalizing, promote social exchange, learn students’ names and so on. In such an environment everyone can feel comfortable and ready to contribute. We are glad that feedback from our participants shows that people feel extremely well during our learning initiatives.

We develop a positive attitude by providing learning experiences where participants feel successful. Setting clear and challenging yet attainable goals, helping people experience success, encouraging them to make choices, and letting them know that the lecturer believes in their success are all great ways to develop a positive attitude.

We pay a lot of attention to the appropriate choice of methodology. Adults are always happy to play simulation games that allow them to face other perspectives. The meaning can be enhanced also by providing a variety of tools, materials and learning patterns.

As a facilitator I always encourage lecturers to give course participants consistent and prompt feedback. It helps them evaluate progress on a given task and makes learning competent. To this end we do daily monitoring. Evidence also suggests that adults more readily engage in skills training if they see it as relevant to the rest of their lives. Our program is therefore based on case studies that are similar to real situations and promotes solving real problems.

Above all the lecturer plays a big role. An experienced and trustworthy person can transform a boring topic into a fun learning experience, so that people become motivated to learn. In other words, introducing a participatory approach without feeling cannot bring the desired results.

Do you agree? Is there anything else that motivates you and that we missed out? Let us know. Your comment is welcome!

We encourage activities that establish inclusion and include sharing experiences.

We encourage activities that establish inclusion and include sharing experiences.


Note: The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the CEF.