What Motivates Me to Learn?

23 Sep

Like I said in my previous post, two goals in my life require constant effort—losing weight and learning. While these two are actually part of a bigger life goal (self-improvement) I decided to discuss them separately. This way, I can focus on different instances in my life when I was motivated or totally unmotivated to achieve the aforementioned goals.

Why Do I Study Hard?

Even before I enrolled in this class, my motivations to learn were quite clear. Obviously, I need this certification to achieve my dream of becoming a teacher. I also want to get high grades so that I wouldn’t have a hard time finding a teaching job in the future. While these extrinsic goals push me to work harder every day, I know that they’re not enough to sustain my efforts to learn.

However, getting high grades and finishing this certificate are not my only reasons for working hard in this course. I know that this course will help me become a great teacher someday. If I’m familiar with different theories of learning, I wouldn’t have a hard time practicing my judgment when choosing from various teaching strategies. I would also get a clearer idea of how students learn, so I can easily find ways to ensure greater transfer of learning.

Based on the readings, this is also a form of extrinsic motivation. Identified regulation, which is related to individuals who pursue certain activities because it has personal value, rests in the far right corner of the extrinsic-intrinsic motivation continuum. This theory breaks the belief that there is a dichotomy between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. It also suggests that some forms of extrinsic motivation can actually serve as a buffer against the negative effects of other external constraints (Hartnett, St. George and Dron, 2011).

But these are not my only motivations to study hard. I love learning new things because I know that it contributes to my overall self-worth and self-image. The more I learn, the more I feel better about myself. This is probably why I experience a “constant thirst for learning.” I guess I can consider this a great example of intrinsic motivation.

I’m Not as Perfect as You Think

Photo credit: http://spot.pcc.edu

Photo credit: http://spot.pcc.edu

However, I wasn’t always as motivated to study as I am now. There was this one time in college when I had no motivation to learn because I was simply uninterested in the subject (College Algebra). Plus, Math isn’t really my strong suit, so I had a feeling that I would struggle in this class. This is where Bandura’s self-efficacy theory comes in. Based on my previous experiences in other math subjects, I formed a very low self-perception when it comes to any topic that concerns mathematical equations.

My professor in that particular subject was also known for being a “terror teacher.” The rumors I heard about him didn’t help at all. Every time I’m in that particular class, I felt really anxious and I can’t wait until the class is dismissed. We can relate Carl Rogers’s humanist views on this particular situation. Aside from having a low self-perception with regards to my ability in Math, our professor’s indifferent approach towards us made it really hard for me to perform well in class.

Like I expected, I failed this class. At first, I thought that it was just a case of self-fulfilling prophecy. But this was actually the first and last “singko” I ever received. I had to take the class again because it was a requirement for Statistics, but I guess I got lucky because I got another professor. He was very different from my first Math professor. He’s very supportive of us, he makes an effort to crack jokes during discussions, and he assigns lots of assignments so that we could practice all the new equations and theorems we learned in class.

This proves that my actual performance is not completely dependent on my perceptions about my ability to do something (self-efficacy). Other factors come into play too. I wouldn’t have passed this subject if I didn’t take it under a professor who makes everyone in his class feel comfortable and less anxious about a very technical subject like Mathematics.

Motivation is Complex and Multifaceted

In the same study that I previously cited, the theorists concluded that motivation is complex, multifaceted, and affected by certain situational conditions. Of all the assigned readings in EDS 103, this is actually one of my favorites. Unlike previous studies about motivation, it aims to explain that every person’s motivation to learn is not exclusively intrinsic or extrinsic. From this theory, we can also draw the conclusion that learners can be both extrinsically or intrinsically motivated in different levels.

Obviously, a student’s emotions can also affect his ability to learn from the class. If he’s constantly anxious and stressed, he would find it harder to perform well because an “illusion of incompetence” (Pintrich and Schunk, 1996) dominates his thoughts and actions.


One Response to “What Motivates Me to Learn?”

  1. monetteabalos September 24, 2012 at 12:47 am #

    Nice post. Thanks for sharing.
    Yes, it’s an eye opener to know that a person can actually be both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated. The activity was so helpful for us to understand this case.

    God bless


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