Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue

  • Home
  •   >  
  • Motivation
  •   >  
  • Increasing My Motivation to Enjoy Studying

Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well.
Philip Dormer Stanhope,
Letters to His Son (March 10, 1746)

Increasing My Motivation to Enjoy Studying

Learning to Control My Motivation

Intrinsic, Extrinsic and Achievement-Oriented Motivation

Research on what motivates students differentiates three main types of motivation:

  1. Motivation is said to be intrinsic when I find pleasure and satisfaction in performing the task. Learning through reading, attending class, imitation and trial and error can be sources of pleasure. This type of motivation is conducive to memorization of knowledge, curiosity, research and creativity. It is generally associated with real and sustainable learning that is oriented towards meaning and deep understanding.
  2. Motivation is said to be extrinsic when it is driven by the desire to obtain a reward that is not related to the task, or by the fear of an unpleasant consequence. Pleasing my parents, having a good job, having a career in a well-paying profession, earning prestige and receiving honors, OR the fear of disappointing or failing and being called a nobody are examples of external motivations to my learning activities. Extrinsic motivation is not conducive to quality learning. It is a superficial learning method that is strictly oriented to passing exams and getting a diploma. Fear-driven motivation is also a good source of stress.
  3. I am driven by achievement-oriented motivation when I wish to demonstrate my mastery of a specific subject.  To achieve high marks, to excel in my field of study and to have the recognition of my peers all help to maintain my self-discipline and support my efforts and perseverance. This type of motivation encourages me to obtain superior marks through quality learning. I gain satisfaction from achieving my anticipated goals, but keep in mind that effort for the sake of effort can be pernicious.
Motivation and Personal Goals

I learn more easily when I enjoy the subject and the way in which I am learning.  I am more likely to succeed when I know exactly what I want (where, when, how and why), when my academic goals are meaningful, when I have a clear vision of my future, when my career choice is in line with my interests and aptitudes, when my studies are my priority in life and when I truly believe that I will succeed.

Since pleasure and passion are better guides than money and fame, it is in my best interest to pay attention to my most fervent wishes, personal dreams and ambitions.

I must make clear and realistic choices in order to achieve my ultimate goal: acquiring specific knowledge about the careers available in my field of study and picturing myself working in one of these careers. Consult available literature and obtain as much information as possible about the explicit and implicit skills that are required for the job by reading about the profession, meeting with people who work in the field and not idealizing the job. I must examine the constraints inherent to the profession, according to my preferences, wishes and tastes.  List the skills I have acquired and then those I still need to acquire. Consult guidance services (they have information and competency tests).

The same applies for my intermediary goals, which include targeting realistic yet ambitious results for each course and choosing an approach that is compatible with my other pre-occupations such as family and employment. Develop a proactive approach to learning and avoid waiting or depending on teachers to schedule study activities. List my intentions and establish my personal learning priorities based on the study program requirements. Come up with a self-evaluation system to test my knowledge and assess my efficiency. Combine intrinsic motivation (pleasure, meaning, passion, interest) with achievement-oriented motivation (quest for excellence). Reduce the extrinsic motivations, particularly those that have a negative impact on my health, such as cigarettes, coffee and alcohol.

Motivation and Attitudes when Dealing with Difficulties

I do not always have the control to shape reality according to my wishes. However I can always change my perception of reality and how I respond to it. Naturally, I have the tendency to avoid unpleasant tasks and problematic situations. I can temporarily ignore them, I can use band-aid solutions that do not really solve them and do nothing more than aggravate the problem, I can continually delay finding resolutions and live with dark clouds above my head, I can complain, feel sorry for myself and have others pity me. But, on the other hand, I have the choice of dealing with my problems and considering them as an opportunity for personal development.

There is always a positive and optimistic way to consider a situation. A boring course: I read instead of listening. A demanding assignment: I find a topic that highly interests me. Failure: I analyze it to identify the cause and to change my study strategy. Too much work: I think about my priorities. Feeling isolated: I work with a team. An intimidating presentation: I concentrate on the clarity of my message.

But most importantly beware of defeatist thinking, self-criticism and guilt.

Web design by Mimi Cummins.