An important means of increasing motivation is to create interest in a particular learning task or topic. Unfortunately, this may be easier said than done. Methods for creating interest will vary significantly according to personal preferences, personal experience and background, and subject matter. Seven suggestions for adding or creating interest in a task are listed below. For additional information, refer to the Changing Attitudes section of this page.
Get motivated to complete an ordinary or mundane task by adding a little novelty to it. Do the activity backwards. Use a partner or role reversal. This strategy is particularly useful in the initial period of presentation of a task or topic.
The task of learning minerals or rocks for geology lab provides a good example of the use of novelty. Students assemble into groups of three to five. Each student in the group is given a different rock and he/she thinks of a name for the rock. Then the students, speaking for the rocks, engage in a conversation that emphasizes the rocks' characteristics. "Hello Bonnie Basalt! You are really dark in color and have small minerals." "That's true Granny Granite. You are much lighter in color than me and you have larger minerals. I really like the pink feldspar in you."
Another strategy is to obtain information about the task from a variety of sources. Different perspectives on a subject often help to generate interest. A topic may not seem interesting as it is presented in a book but may be interesting in another format.
Don't rely solely on text books or lectures for information, but supplement them with magazine articles, newspaper articles, television shows, radio programs, conversations with students, conversations with other experts or knowledgeable people, museum exhibits, etc. For example, to learn about the major battles of a war one might read novels, watch movies, attend reenactments, or talk with participants or their descendents.
A third strategy is to recognize how the task is relevant to one's personal experiences and knowledge base (see the Relevance section of this page for more information). Tasks often become more meaningful when one ties them to existing information. Meaningful tasks enhance motivation.
For example, relate math geometry equations to your summer job as a construction worker or your experience in ordering carpet or wallpaper. Apply new knowledge about sibling relations from psychology to your own family experiences. Relate geology landscape studies to your farming knowledge.
Making new information personal helps to create interest in uninteresting subjects. Try relating the new information to matters of personal concern.
For example, relate what is learned in history class to current political issues with which you are concerned. Relate what is learned in biology class to your opinions about abortion or euthanasia. Relate new sociology information to personal family issues.
Actively Use Knowledge
Make active use of new knowledge in order to develop and maintain interest in it. Ask questions of yourself, your classmates, and your instructor. Anticipate the next steps in the course. Talk about the new information with friends, family, and classmates. Think about it during that extra free time while walking to class or waiting in line. Write about the new knowledge in a journal, or make up a story using the information.
Create interest by applying new knowledge learned in one course to another course. Apply new knowledge from school to your job, or new knowledge from your job to school.
For example, apply knowledge from chemistry class to the study of rock and mineral composition in geology class. Apply information from history class to a political science course. Information from persuasion may be applied to a marketing course.
Work with Others
Form study groups or less formal meetings with classmates to discuss new information. Other students often are able to offer new perspectives on information that may be more interesting to you than those presented in class. Other students may share personal experiences related to the new knowledge that you find interesting.
For more on study groups, see the Study Groups section of the Group and Cooperative Learning page.