Motivating Adult Learners

Table of Content

IntroductionWhile the globalization has accentuated the requirement of more learned adults all across the globe, the problems related to handling a diverse adult classroom has risen ever than before (Dighe). Therefore, finding appropriate solutions for motivating the adult learners remain the main concern in this sphere.

Accordingly many modules of motivation applicable to the above situations have come up to help the educators as well as the learners not only to overcome the cultural or regional differences, but also to exploit such diversity to the process of learning. Therefore, this paper explores a problem in the sphere of adult learning and tries to find its solution by designing an instructional plan for adults based on the motivational framework proposed by Wlodkowski, besides justifying its efficacy.Statement of ProblemConverting cultural diversity in adult learning as a source of motivation for the learners.ObjectiveTo design an instructional plan for adults amid a multicultural environment, where the plan would be based on motivational framework proposed by Wlodkowski.

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Literature ReviewA Brief Take on MotivationA quick summation of the various ideas about motivation can be placed like below:a)      It is an internal state or condition that activates behavior and gives it direction;b)      It is desire or want that energizes and directs goal-oriented behavior;c)      It is an influence of needs and desires on the intensity and direction of behavior. (Huitt, 2001).Adults, in most of the cases, have some reasons or the other to continue education. In this case, according to the study of Cyril O.

Houle, they are driven by any or all three of the following reasons:a)      Goal-oriented learning, where they use education to accomplish clear-cut objectives;b)      Learning with an objective of socializing;c)      Learning to quench the thirst of knowledge (Motivation Styles, 2001).Overall six factors are considered as the guiding forces of motivation in adult learning and they are:i)        Social relationship: To make new friends or to extend the social circle;ii)      External expectation: To comply others’ directives;iii)    Social welfare: To involve in philanthropic activity with improved ability;iv)    Personal advancement: To achieve higher status in any sphere of life;v)      Escape/Stimulation: To escape monotony;vi)    Cognitive interest: To satiate the hunger for knowledge (Principles, 1991).Motivation in the sphere of education is that catalyst which indulges people into learning by imbibing the quest for knowledge and thirst for self-satisfaction. Thus it is an invaluable tool for both the learners and the educators, and resultantly for the society as well, because of its positive impact on the overall development of the society.

In this case, motivation in adult learning from the perspective of globalization turns even more important. Therefore, the core concept about motivation needs to be studied at the outset.The Driving or Guiding Force of Motivation from Wlodkowski’s perspectiveAccording to Wlodkowski (Wlodkowski, 1991), the generators of motivation are:Culture: It embeds its members with traditional values, dominant religion, myths and folklores, political or legal arms, besides the ethnic outlook about the world around. Therefore, it’s the policy of the society that matters in motivating its members – for example, if a society gives children’s education a top priority, then there would definitely be an undercurrent of motivation in all layers of the society regarding children’s education.

Family: It is that functional unit which determines daily proceedings of an individual, and thus its outlook on the various functions and activities of humans and subsequently its priority list on them influences the degree of motivation in its members. For example, if there is a supporting and encouraging ambience of education in a family, the learners there would feel motivated. In Wlodkowski’s words, “Studies of well-motivated, successful students reveal that they come from effective families.”School: School or the learning center holds an extremely important role to motivate its students through an overall supporting, encouraging and indulging environment.

Here Wlodkowski emphasizes on “effective” teachers, whose enthusiasm would propel the spirit of the students to a degree, where they would feel “safe with teachers and know that with effort they can learn and complete assignments”.Learners: Each learner has his/her own slice of world that interacts with the outer world, through which s/he gradually forms the personal outlook and attitude over subjects and functions of life. Thus, this zone contains enough spark-points for motivation and it highly influence the motivation in an individual.Thus it is understood that balance and harmony among all the above four zones can keep one’s motivational flow in good stead, as Wlodkowski says, “If the culture values effort as a necessary part of learning, and the family and school are in total agreement in their support of this value, the learners will know, accept, and identify with this same value.

They will see it as the natural way to be” (Wlodkowski, 1999).With this powerful analysis, Wlodkowski goes on to provide a framework that claims to be equally effective in a diverse classroom of adult learners, which would “align and apply teaching strategies that help all adult learners to be intrinsically motivated to learn” and “it can access the richness that cultural differences can contribute to learning”(Wlodkowski: Creating, 2005).Wlodkowski’s FrameworkIntroduced in 1995, this framework, “The Motivational Framework for Culturally Responsive Teaching” (Ginsberg & Wlodkowski, 2000) has already been widely applied and reported to have provided positive results (Ginsberg, 2001). The basic design of this instructional plan contains four zones where each of them holds a precondition or premise, which needs to be attended to achieve the goal.

1.      Establishing Inclusion: The learning atmosphere should be congenial, inviting and encouraging. Wlodkowski prescribes to settle this issue at the outset by exploring the avenues for creating or affirming a mutually respected learning atmosphere where everyone should feel connected to one another.2.

Developing Attitude: This idea deals with creating or affirming a “favorable disposition toward learning through personal relevance and choice”, and Wlodkowski suggests planning it for the beginning of the lesson to get best possible results.3.      Enhancing Meaning: This idea aims to create an engaging and challenging learning experience that includes learners’ perspectives and values, and this process should go on all throughout the lesson.4.

Engendering Competence: This idea focuses on affirming an understanding that learners have effectively learned certain things they value and perceive as authentic to their real world. This idea is best to apply at the end of the lessons (Wlodkowski: Creating, 2005).ResultStudy of the above brings forth the facts thata)      An instructional plan in the mold of Wlodkowski framework identifies four zones like ethnicity, family, school and the learner as influential elements for motivation.b)      This plan formulates a framework with its four foundational principles that would motivate adults to learn – Inclusion, Attitude, Meaning, and Competence.

The Proposed Plan: “MindSharing”Thus, with the help of the above-cited guidance on strategy and framework, this paper presents its own instructional plan for adults of the following nature:Name of the plan: “MindSharing”Target group of learners: Multicultural classroomCentral Idea: Each teacher and student will have to do an assignment at periodic intervals under the title of “MindSharing”. This assignment would require each of them to narrate a real-life instance of someone’s hard-earned success from his/her native place.  Each of such stories will be added as the comprehensive key to a set of questions, which the students will have to answer at the end of each month. The questionnaire would be set from the perspective of self-evaluation.

Altogether there will be four steps to apply this plan:Explaining the plan to teachers and learners;Creating and implementing a viable schedule for conducting narration sessions;Evaluating the answers of questionnaire;Applying the findings towards the development of the learners.Application of Wlodkowski Framework to “MindShare”Inclusion. The idea of narrating one’s own ethnic group member’s achievement would bolster the spirit of the learner at the outset and s/he would be seeking to earn respect through depicting his heritage. While each one involved in the project would do the same, each one will feel connected at the same plane – such as, all of us are inspired by the achievements of someone very close and thus all of us are in the same boat.

This idea would definitely generate mutual respect for one another, as all members of the classroom will be engaged in ‘meaningful dialogue’, which too forms the basis of motivation. At the same time this idea touches a sensitive zone of influence, i.e., one’s ethnicity.

This would not only bridge the cultural gaps among students, but also serve as a motivation tool for them.Developing Attitude. There are very few elements that can compete with real-life success stories to inspire human beings and to tilt their attitude towards achieving something for themselves. From this perspective, “MindSharing” is bound to lead the learners’ attitude towards a favorable response to the lessons, as its positive and inspiring content would influence the learners to go for positive actions for themselves.

Enhanced Meaning. Meaning is a basic aspect of adult education and here the monthly evaluation attached to the “MindSharing” project comes in handy. As stated earlier, each learner will have to answer a set of questionnaires, where they will have to answer from a single instance of achievement. The questions in them would be set in a manner that they evoke a quest for meaning.

For example, learners will be encouraged to use their native parlance while narrating the instance of success and to explain the meaning of the jargon used. This part will feature in the questionnaire too, along with questions like1.      “Identify the turning point in the life of the person”2.      “What did s/he do to turn around?”3.

“Can you provide a better idea than the one used by the person?”4.      “Do you think you could have done so in less time under the same condition?” etc.Competence. Since it is a known fact that competence is a desire to be effective and adults have a strong, innate desire to be competent, all they need is a boost in their confidence.

And what could be better than the encouraging success-stories from wide spectrum of cultures across the globe to boost one’s confidence? The proposed “MindSharing” project would do this job thrice a month with its two listening sessions and one answering session, where the learners would be able to maintain a cycle of recharging-evaluating-recharging their competence, besides other regulation studies.Therefore, the proposed “MindSharing” plan for adults would follow the framework of Wlodkowski and wouldA.    Establish Inclusion by creating an atmosphere of respect and connection;B.     Develop the learners’ Attitude by creating favorable disposition to learning;C.

Enhance Meaning by creating challenging thoughtful experiences;D.    Engender Competence by creating an understanding of learner effectiveness. This paper presents the following diagrams to further explain the proposed plan, “MindSharing”:Diagram A       Diagram B: RubricMINDSHARE QUESTIONNAIRE: Evaluation SheetConditionsHighEncouragingImprovingRemarksResponseParticipationQuality of AnswersConnectednessDiagram C: Evaluation SheetsINCLUSION: Respect and ConnectednessConditionsNear PerfectGoodImprovingRemarksEnvironmentMutual RespectAwarenessConnectednessATTITUDE: Choice and Personal Relevance ConditionsVery HighHighImprovingRemarksResponse LevelChangesMEANING: Challenge and EngagementConditionsVery HighHighImprovingRemarksPassionChallenge LevelQuestCOMPETENCE: Authenticity and EffectivenessConditionsVery GoodGoodImprovingRemarksTrialsPracticeConfidenceDiscussionAccording to the research document of the University of Florida, “Motivation is important and that adults choose vocational and practical education that leads to knowledge about how to do something” (Motivating, 2008). This is true, as the “intrinsic motivation” embeds the factors like “who the person is” and “what is the learning content” to justify the decision of learning.

Thus, it is to facilitate that individual query, “Inclusion” technique of Wlodkowski looks very impressive.”Attitude”, the second pillar of Wlodkowski, is a proven element in enhancing the motivation of learning. A research on the change of attitudes between the ages of 33 and 42 clearly shows that adult learning has considerable influence on the overall attitude of the learners and most of such influences are positive (Adult, 2004).”Meaning”, the third pillar of the framework in discussion too holds a vital position in the human life itself, as it is associated with cognitive needs, which features in the fifth level of “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs”, created by famous psychologist Abraham Maslow (Maslow’s, 2007).

The idea of “Competence” perfectly suits with the dynamics of adult learning – as it fulfills the preconditions of  “Reinforcement theory”, where it is believed that “behavior is a function of is consequences” (Theories, 2007).ConclusionThe explanation and organization of Wlodkowski’s framework ascertains its efficacy towards motivating a diverse adult classroom. This framework is flexible to accommodate many types of instructional plans, as it shows in the case of the “Mindshare” plan, which, this study believes, would surely convert the cultural diversity in adult learning as a source of motivation for the learners.Ends References”Adult education and attitude change” (2004).

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