Thursday, 20 December 2012

9 golden rules for motivated learning

You can 'rev up' the engine of training as much as you like but until you engage the gear shift of motivation no learning progress will take place.

Here are nine golden rules of motivation which will help you achieve this.

Rule 1

Setting clear objectives:

As trainers we should always try to appreciate the viewpoint of a learner. From the outset, we should change our thoughts on the material for a session from ‘what do I need to tell them?” or “ What do I as a trainer know about this subject?” and turn it into objectives from the delegates point of view. It is useful to write down such objectives so that the learners can appreciate what they are going to learn and how it will help them in their work.

e.g. to learn…, to be able to…, to appreciate…,  to understand…, to acknowledge…,

Rule 2

Every learner has motivation hot buttons

For those familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs we can adapt the five levels to the learning environment.

As trainers it is important not to overlook each stage of the hierarchy of needs.

Sometimes they can have an overriding importance e.g. the basic physical needs such as meals, breaks, refreshments. In terms of security and safety needs, these would encompass such things as fire regulations, safety at work, timings for the course, explanation of the measurement of trainee reports and evaluation of both trainer and content.

When it comes to social and belonging needs we can work with groups, and teams, group exercises and team briefings  also in any follow up-up e bulletins, newsletters and ' extra mural'  activities.

Recognition needs of your learners can be met through justifiable praise from the trainer and keeping learners informed of their progress.

The top level of Maslow  (selfactualisation) is achievement and fulfilment . Trainers  help learners attain this by setting challenges that are achievable . Trainers also need to delegate responsibility to members of the group  as well as the group as a whole, to take charge or their own training and development.

Trainers should remember that all learners have motivational ‘hot buttons’, but remembering to be pragmatic, few trainers will have time to dig out hot buttons for every single delegate at every level of the hierarchy of needs.

Rule 3

Participation motivates:

Most trainers work their sessions through three phases.

1.       An EXPLANATION of the material to be covered.

2.       A DEMONSTRATION of the material

3.       PARTICIPATION of the material by the learners.

Most delegates learn by doing. They do this through exercises , role plays , group discussions, group assignments and individual exercises.

The level of participation has to be decided by the trainer. It can range from a lecture which has high instructor control through to delegates reading material.

However it is important to include some form of active group work and hands on exercises.

To add spice and variety to  your training courses it may be useful to deliver material in different presentation methods from step to step discovery to interactive role play and video.

Rule 4

Motivation requires recognition and acknowledgement:

A point of view worth considering is this. “ Learners don’t really learn from their mistakes- they learn by doing it right.”  With this the trainer has an active responsibility to remember ‘ any fool can criticise and most fools do!”

Trainers must give justified praise and encouragement to learners. They can also give praise by encouraging other team members to acknowledge and feedback recognition of colleagues’ work.

By awarding prizes, photographs and certificates trainers do not only appeal to learner's recognition needs but also their achievement needs.

It is a good habit for trainers to actively seek out opportunities to congratulate their learners.

Rule 5

Motivation once established- does not last.

However good our motivation technique is , it may not necessarily last the  entire session.

Trainers should strive to keep learners’ interest and attention by constantly developing new and fresh approaches.  It is worth remembering learners can only take a certain amount of ‘into syndicates’ in any one training course !

Rule 6

Challenges only motivate if you can win.

Challenges range from skillful use of questioning to setting particular tasks for individuals or groups to complete. They must be positive and they must be achievable in the time allowed.

Take a lead from those copy writers who write questions for TV 'Quiz' shows. The Chase , Eggheads, University Challenge Pointless even Prime minestr's question time in Parliament etc. If the level of the question is too technical  for example “ What are the principles of hypo static union?” – most of us would change channels quickly. Similarly if the question is too banal “ and how old are you my dear ?” ( canned applause), we will switch channels because the challenge is too easy.

As Learners / TV  quiz watchers, we want questions that stretch our mind a bit but stimulate us to come up with the correct answer ( so we can show off to the family or friends who are watching with us.)

Similarly it is not enough for trainers to know the mechanics of open and closed questions etc – they must make sure the design and content of their questions are sufficiently challenging to motivate, but also that the learners have a fair chance of getting the answers correct. Good questioning should be purposeful, clear and precise and relevant to the training objective ( See Rule1). Your questions are best limited to one idea, but can then be directed to the whole group or distributed at random.

Trainers should avoid using, catch, leading, irrelevant, pumping or ambiguous questions since these tend to demotivate.

 Rule 7

Course group belonging motivates

Team challenges work well.

There are a number of methods to encourage group bonding. Popular is the use of energisers for both the mind and the body.

Energisers are activities which increase the energy level of the of the participants. They help to activate a readiness for learning.

They can promote an excitement and anticipation before a training experience  and they can counteract the effects of drowsiness or tiredness.

Simple team energiser using flipchart paper bowls
 and zoned points mat. Help to reveive energy levels
Energisers often employ some gentle physical exercise. The simplest is to have the whole group stand up, stretch out their arms and shake their legs. Even a shared gentle shoulder massage  between delegates works well!! Energisers are often playfully competitive. They often require delegates to use their imagination. This leads to more open minds which are ready to receive new ideas and information. This in turn stimulates and increases creativity. Wherever appropriate ,the trainer should partake themselves in energisers. This help bond trainer with delegates as well as keeping the trainer mentally and physical fit.

 Rule 8

Seeing yourself progress motivates.

Because we know motivation does not last, each of our delegates should feel they are individually progressing closer to meeting the objectives of the learning session. One of our chief roles a trainers is to  observe and give feedback  on how learners are progressing.  This gives them increase self esteem  and that important sense of achievement.

For those trainers involved in role play exercises you can give learners feedback and suggest what actions learners might wish to take to further improve and involve learners into thinking through how to apply such new skills learnt  to the workplace.
Rule 9

Trainers have to be motivated to motivate.

It is not enough to have some knowledge  and experience of working practise to exhibit the golden rules above trainers have to ensure their enthusiasm infects all delegates. Enthusiasm is the strongest training asset in the world. Single handed  the enthusiastic trainer  dominates where an army of academics would scarcely raise  a tremor of interest.

“An enthusiastic trainer tramples over prejudice  and opposition, spurns inaction, storms the citadel of their object and like an avalanche overwhelm and engulf all obstacles”

Motivation is a key responsibility for all trainers. Sometimes we as trainers are not too motivated ourselves so it is useful to remember

“ being miserable is a habit, being happy is a habit the choice is yours!”

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