How to Motivate Adults to Learn

2 of 8

First, understand that we do not "motivate" learners. Motivation is an internal element unique to the individual. What motivates one person is not the same as what motivates another. Even what motivates a person in one situation is not the same as what would be the motivational factor in another, even similar situation. Motivation for learning is indeed a "not one size fits all" situation. At best we help create an environment in which motivation can occur. Here are some general elements to consider:

  • Refer to learners by name.
  • Clarify expectations and learning goals at the beginning of the study.
  • Be punctual. Begin and end class on time, every time.
  • Be prepared and plan activities, handouts and test presentation tools before the class.
  • Include positive reinforcement to learners. Be careful to not publicly praise learners who might not like such attention but also don't hesitate to applaud efforts and successes as appropriate.
  • Invite frequent feedback from learners regarding course content, materials, activities, instructor, etc.
  • Respond to feedback from learners by answering questions, clarifying expectations, and implementing suggestions whenever possible.
  • Acknowledge your limitations of knowledge, skills, and experience and draw upon the expertise of individuals in the class whenever possible.
  • Provide opportunities for participants to exchange ideas and learn from each other in group activities.
  • Employ a variety of teaching methodologies to appeal to a range of learning preferences.