Refer & Earn

Ways to build motivation in learners

Ways to build motivation in learners

Vivek Jayaraman
30th Jan, 2022

The word motivation has been derived from the Latin word, movers which mean to move. When it comes to learning, motivation always takes center stage. It is the core and heart of the learning process and associated behaviors. Motivation is a form of arousal that provides interest. Motivation gives birth to interest, and interest gives birth to learning. When it comes to education, motivation accelerates the learner's behavior, and learning becomes impossible without motivation. 


Not every learner is a fan of mathematics, yet some learners solve mathematical problems more quickly than the rest of others. If you check with them, they enjoy doing it or find it rewarding and equally fascinating. Each learner has a varying amount of energy to attain their goals. The difference in the amount of energy invested in working towards things they want is in motivation levels. 


Enormous research and studies were conducted in the past half-century on motivation by educational psychologists and various scientists. Different researchers gave different definitions for motivation based on their research. 


"Motivation is school learning involves arousing, persisting, sustaining and directing desirable behavior" - B.F.Skinner (1947)


"The self-actualization tendency is growth motivation. Self-actualization is the development of personality that frees the person from the deficiency problems of growth. Motivation is constant, never-ending, fluctuating, complex, and that is a universal characteristic of particularly every organismic state of affairs" - A.H.Maslow (1954)


"Motivation is considered with the arousal of the interest in learning and to that extent is basic to learning" - L.D.Crow and A.Crow (1962)


"Motivation is a process in which the learner's internal energies or needs are directed towards various goal objects in his environment." - G.M.Blair (1947)


Terminologies of Motivation used in Learning 

The usual terms are: 

  • Motive - Motives are conditions - psychological and physiological within the organism that dispose of it to act in specific ways. 
  • Drive - A drive is an intra-organic activity that initiates particular action and behavior.
  • Incentive - An external condition can satisfy an aroused motive that elicits an effort to attain that object. 
  • Interest - It is a tendency to become absorbed in an experience and continue it. 
  • Curiosity - is a tendency to investigate and learn more about new objects with no previous experience. 
  • Goal - It is a result that an individual desires.
  • Arouser - It is an energizer of an organism. 

Characteristics of Motivation

  • It arouses a person's interest in learning and helps sustain it.
  • It is all about directing behavior, leading to selective goals. 
  • It leads to self-actualization in learning through energizing and initiating activities that lead to learning. 
  • It releases the tension and helps the learners in satisfying their needs.
  • It provided the needed energy to accelerate the behaviors of the learner. 

Maslow's Needs and Educational Implications

As per Maslow, an individual's five basic needs must be satisfied to reach the highest motivation level. The needs are:

  • Physiological Needs
  • Safety Needs
  • Love and Belonging Needs
  • Self-Esteem Needs
  • Self-Actualization Needs



Higher needs can be satisfied only when the lower needs are satisfied. Let's look at each of these needs from the learner's point of view.


  • Physiological needs: These are the basic needs of any human being. Basic needs like food, water, and air serve as the primary function of our maintenance. If the learner is deprived of basic needs, intellectual development, learning abilities, and other opportunities can be limited. 
  • Safety Needs: The learning environment should be safe enough for the learners. The dissatisfaction of safety needs can cause a learner to mistrust and insecurity with the learning environment. It hampers learning. 
  • Love and Belonging Needs: The learner needs to connect with other learners and teachers. If the security needs are satisfied, the learner develops relationships. The learner will develop a desire to belong to the classroom and community. 
  • Self-Esteem Needs: The learner develops likeness towards competence and achievements. They perform well in interpersonal situations and have a strong desire for freedom, independence, prestige, and reputation. 
  • Self-Actualization Needs: At this level, the learner realizes their potential and desires self-fulfillment. This level has a special significance in learning. 

Motivating the Learners

Learners of varied age groups need constant motivation from the teachers. In any faculty-based training, the teacher stands at the forefront of motivation. Any techniques the teachers use to arouse motivation will be successful only when the learner's needs are met. Since the learners will be from different socio-economic backgrounds, the teacher should pick motivational techniques. Diverse learners have different needs and will be at varying levels of motivation.

  • Every learner should be led towards their goal.
  • Goals should be within the learner's reach and should be attainable.
  • The learner should be able to measure progress towards the goal.
  • The teacher should not rely solely on a single motivation technique and should be willing to explore more judiciously and scientifically. 

Motivation Techniques for the Learners

  • Attractive Physical and Environmental Conditions: The classroom should have fewer distractions to focus on. Some known distractions are noise, lighting conditions, the temperature difference (either too hot or too cold), and other unpleasant things. These distractions take the focus and interest of learning from the learners. The classroom should have appropriate ventilation, be non-noisy, have pleasant lighting, be clean, and elevate learners' moods. 
  • Manage learner's Impulse: Curiosity, drives, self-assertion, and arguments direct learner's behaviors. Learners are curious when they learn new things. The new & strange things attract them, and they would like to create something they know. Encouragement from the teachers helps the learners create and construct based on new learnings. 
  • Stimulus Variations: Learners cannot always focus on anything for a more extended period. There should be stimulus variations for the learners when it comes to teaching. Teachers should be creative enough to bring in activities, exercises, and other variations to help learners learn. Some classroom variations could be the teacher's movements, gestures, changes in speech, and posture. 
  • Reinforcement: According to Psychologist Robinson Johnson, "Praise, like gold and diamonds, owes its value to scarcity." It means that the reinforcement has to be employed with utmost care. The teacher's positive reinforcement could be a smile, nod, friendly postures, friendly approach towards learners, and providing verbal acknowledgments like, 'Good job,' 'Excellent,' 'Way to go,' etc. Negative reinforcement could be facial expressions showcasing annoyance, pity, contempt, frowns, etc., and verbal comments including 'No,' 'Wrong,' 'Poor,' Not Good,' etc. 
  • Rewards and Punishment: Rewards that act as incentives could be materialistic, symbolic, or psychological that enhance a learner's safety, belonging, and esteem needs. For a reward to serve as an incentive, the learner should perceive them as of value. The rewards themselves won't be of any value if they do not find an intrinsic push for the learning activity. Intrinsic motivation takes place only when the learner feels motivated without external rewards. 
  • Pleasure and Pain: According to psychology, an organism seeks a pleasant experience that gives more satisfaction than a painful experience. This has direct implications for learning. Teachers have to provide a satisfying and pleasurable experience if the learners have to be motivated for education. 
  • Attainable Objectives: Every chapter, every lesson, and topic should have a clear goal. The goal must be clear to the learners. Only if there is a clear goal will the learners be motivated to pursue it. 
  • Taste of Success: Any learning activity will be self-motivated for the learners if there is success. Every learner must have their level of success. The learner should experience some level of success at the earlier stage in learning, and as complex stages approach, the win should continue.  
  • Competition: Competition is an enabler to the learning process. Competition between individuals in learning is threatening, so the competition should be designed between a group than between individuals. 
  • Embracing individual differences: Every learner has their levels of skills, capabilities, interests, and knowledge. Not everyone can be motivated alike. The teacher should find the varying interests of different learners and create approaches that help motivate them accordingly. 
  • The Teacher's motivation: The teacher themselves should be interested in what they are teaching and who they are teaching. If there is no interest or motivation with the teacher, they will not motivate the learners. If a teacher loses interest or gets bored with teaching the same topic for so long, then they need to find varying techniques and activities to teach. 
  • Skills of Teacher: The teacher's skills play a significant role in motivation for the learners. Some of the skills include Socratic questioning, reinforcement, stimulus variations, use of tools, metaphors, facilitating discussions, exposition, different teaching methods, ability to deal with learner's questions, and repetition. 

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