Personal Goals, Attitudes, Class Attendance, Desire to Learn
Personal Goal Chart
The personal goal chart is a strategy for setting realistic goals for studying and carefully evaluating the ways by which those goals will be achieved. It takes into account one's motivations for fulfilling particular goals.
The chart is divided into six parts.
For additional information about setting personal goals, see the Monitoring page of the General-Purpose Learning Strategies main stack.
Attitudes greatly influence motivation. Poor attitudes about tasks often translate into lack of motivation. Similarly, positive attitudes usually enhance motivation. Happily, attitudes are plastic and malleable; they can be changed. The following paragraphs offer suggestions for changing attitudes in order to improve motivation.
Attitudes about Task Content
When one encounters tasks considered to be uninteresting, a red light should go off. Because it is difficult for most people to get motivated to learn things that they don't find interesting, special efforts must be made to increase interest levels. Creating Interest is covered separately in this page, but a basic outline is provided here.
One way to maintain motivation for completing uninteresting tasks is to constantly remind oneself of the long-term and short-term benefits of completing the task. How will it help in achieving personal goals? How will it lead to further successes? See the Value of Information section of this page for more details and strategies.
Other strategies for developing an interest in task content include obtaining information from a variety of sources, tying new information to old bodies of knowledge, making new information personal, actively using new knowledge using new knowledge in other classes, working with others, and adding novelty to mundane tasks.
In addition to disinterest, lack of motivation may derive from tasks whose content triggers strong negative emotions. For example, a student may have trouble completing a geography assignment about a country in which he/she had a extremely negative experience. In this case, one might attempt to break up the event or experience associated with negative emotions, identify positive aspects of it, and focus on those more positive components.
Finally, tasks with morally upsetting content may lead to low motivation levels. This differs from the previous situation in that it involves task content that counters fundamental moral or ethical ideals. For example, it may be difficult to complete a task related to euthanasia if one is strongly opposed to and offended by it. Of the three hindrances to motivation related to task content, this is probably the most difficult to address with learning strategies.
Attitudes about Task Type
Some people consider certain types of tasks distasteful or they may consider themselves inept at those tasks. Consequently, those people may lack motivation for starting or finishing the tasks. For example, some students strongly dislike speaking in public and will avoid courses or assignments that involve this type of performance. Some instructors believe they are not good at writing grant proposals and they avoid the task.
One of the first things to do in this case is to evaluate as objectively as possible individual performance in the specific task(s). It could be that individuals have an inaccurate perception of their abilities to successfully complete a certain task(s). Poor performance may be due to other factors than lack of ability, like lack of preparation or state of health. Set up a mock situation that calls upon the individual to perform the task(s), or use questionnaires to identify mitigating circumstances that may influence one's performance in real-life tasks. For example, a student may feel he/she is a terrible test-taker. This perception may be based on past failures. Use the Exam Debriefing strategy (described in the Monitoring page) to determine if the poor performance on the task is due to lack of ability or inadequate preparation.
Another thing one might try is developing a list of reasons why the task is worthwhile. It is often the case that an individual will be motivated to perform a distasteful task because his/her grade or job depends on it. In other cases it is necessary to relate task completion with long-term goals of graduating from school or getting a promotion.
Something instructors can do is structure courses so that they include a variety of tasks or they provide for student choices among tasks. For example, give students the choice of turning in a written research paper or giving a formal speech to the class. Write exams with a variety of questions, like multiple choice, fill-in, and essay.
Motivation and Class Attendance
It is sometimes difficult to get motivated to attend class when one is tired, when one is uninterested in the course, or when one has an early class and isn't a morning person. The following strategies may help one to get motivated to attend class.
Desire to Learn
To improve one's chances of academic success, develop a driving motive or an intense desire to learn. The following strategies may help to accomplish this.