Jul 252018

Motivated learning

First of all, one might wonder if motivated learning is necessary at all. Is is not possible to learn without motivation? At least as far as short-term learning success is concerned, this question must be answered positively: it is possible to successfully learn without motivation. However, the empirical results from our “Zeitlast” (workload) studies also show that such a learning outcome without motivation is usually accompanied by a greater perceived effort and a higher objective time requirement. It may also be assumed that the acquired knowledge content is less accessible – in particular, that the transfer to new situations is disrupted resulting in some inertia of the knowledge thus acquired.

Motivated Learning

Conversely, it can be inferred that motivated learning requires less personal effort, is more time-effective and the resulting knowledge is more universally applicable.

These advantages of motivated learning are directly related to the fact that intrinsic motivation is linked to the self-system “extension memory” already described in the blogpost 1 “Descartes’ Error“. The right hemispheric extension memory accompanies and enables the internalization processes necessary to perform a learning task with intrinsic motivation.

Here, the extension memory has a threefold function:

  1. It allows feeling the fit between learning tasks and the learner and thus creating a first internalization of the learning task. Subsequently, an ascription of responsibility for the learning task can be developed.
  2. The extension memory also accompanies the experience of self-efficacy. In particular, whether a particular learning method or learning strategy really suits you.
  3. In the actual performing of the learning action, the extension memory will assess whether I continue to feel comfortable with the concrete learning processes.

The activation of the extension memory in the learning process is thus the prerequisite for a holistic association of the self with all phases of the learning process. A large correspondence between the self and the learning regulation will trigger the effects of an intrinsic motivation:

  • Learning is easy and time flies by (flow experience).
  • Through a high degree of associations with the self-system many methods can be associated that can be used flexibly during the learning process.
  • A close connection with the self-system also enables a better self-motivation, which allows a constructive handling of setbacks and, if necessary, guarantees a longer study of the subject matter.
  • Finally, strong associations of the acquired knowledge with the self-system result in a more flexible retrieval of the knowledge content in different situations and thus promotes a high retention performance.

The next blog post will explain how a learning environment can be designed in such a way that the highest possible intrinsic motivation for learning can emerge (motivated design).

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