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Factors that Motivate Adults to Learn

Studies show that successful learning depends on the learner’s motivation. Therefore, motivating learners is the key to effective teaching. Unfortunately, little effort is made to motivate adults to learn, according to Olusegun Agboola Sogunro (Ph.D.).

In his 2014 study, “Motivating Factors for Adult Learners in Higher Education,” Sogunro focuses on the factors that drive adult learners. Using mixed methods, he compiled information from 203 graduate students at Central Connecticut State University. Our post, “Top Motivating Factors for Adult Learners,” delves into the five top motivating factors that Sogunro found in his study. The following are three other significant motivators he identifies.

Three Factors that Motivate Adult Learners

  1. Self-Directedness 

Adults tend to have an intrinsic desire to be independent. In Sogunro’s study, 70% of interviewees expressed a preference for autonomy. Thus, they prefer flexible schedules and more opportunities to make their own choices. As a result, the researcher suggests that instructors encourage adults to take ownership of their learning.

2. Conducive Learning Environment

Sogunro found that the learning environment influenced the motivation of 72% of interviewees. Respondents noted that temperature, safety, cleanliness and a well-equipped room have had some impact on them. Moreover, Sogunro recommends that institutions ensure learners have adequate seating space and room for movement. 

A conducive learning environment is particularly important so adults will not be reminded of bad experiences from their earlier school years.

3. Effective Academic Advising Practices

Academic advising involves regularly providing important information to students. It also means helping students choose the best and most appropriate courses. Subsequently, they can then develop a plan to complete the courses to graduate. 

Approximately 70% of participants stated that effective academic advising is essential for their learning. It increases their motivation and results in higher graduation rates. 

Wrap Up

“The reality is that in all teaching and learning transactions, motivation is an inevitable construct that evokes and sustains effective learning.” – Olusegun Agboola Sogunro, Ph.D

Each factor in Sogunro’s study motivates students differently. Therefore, the author recommends that instructors continue developing their andragogical skills. Furthermore, institutions should provide services and environments favorable for adult learning. With increased motivators, learners will then have a higher chance of successful learning. 

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