I have been thinking about my four year old great niece who will be taking part in her pre-school nativity play next week. She found out last week, much to her disappointment, that she has been cast as an angel – again. She wanted to be the donkey. She discussed this with her friend, who was also cast as an angel for the second time, but her friend said that it was alright and that it would be easy because they already knew what to do.
I was interested to know why my great-niece wanted to be the donkey and the reason she gave was this: “Because he’s fun and he gets to lead Mary and Joseph”.
This led me to think about motivation and how we can help to keep learners motivated. My great-niece already knew what it was like to be an angel and obviously didn’t find it exciting enough to want to experience it again. From her perspective the donkey’s role was much more appealing. She learnt about the role from watching the donkey’s performance in last year’s play. The little person who was last year’s donkey would have taken direction from the teacher for the part. The importance of the donkey’s role may or may not have been spoken about, but the performance conveyed the idea that it was and at least one little girl remembered it clearly enough to want to experience it for herself.
How can we as trainers and assessors make the process of learning more appealing, exciting and challenging? Do these things not apply when trying to help keep adult learners motivated? I understand that adult learning is a serious business. The outcomes of learning can affect whether or not the all-important piece of paper is gained, which can in turn affect a job, promotion or salary package.
In the world of Vocational Education and Training where upgrading existing qualifications is expected and inevitable, we are faced with the challenge of how to present learning material, resources, training and support for adult learners who may at best, feel it is just part of being in the VET sector and at worst, feel that they just want the piece of paper and “let’s get it over and done with”.
What would motivate you as an adult learner?