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Top Motivating Factors for Adult Learners

The UK National Adult Learning Survey (2010) noted that adult learners are more motivated than other groups to further learning. However, researcher Olusegun Agboola Sogunro (Ph.D.) pointed out that not much is done to motivate adults in the classroom.  

In his  2014 study, “Motivating Factors for Adult Learners in Higher Education,” Sogunro collected data from 203 graduate students at Central Connecticut State University. The research findings revealed the following top motivating factors.

Five Top Motivating Factors for Adults

1. Quality of Instruction

Over 95% of the interviewees stated that they pursued higher education due to the quality of instruction. Therefore, Sogunro recommends efficient organization and technology use in the classroom. Furthermore, the researcher emphasizes using instructors’ best attributes, such as humor and respect. Doing this will keep learners interested and motivated.

2. Quality of Curriculum

Over 80% of interviewees confirmed that the quality of the curriculum was a significant source of motivation. As curricula are prepared before classes begin, Sogunro advises instructors to make them flexible. They can then incorporate learners’ needs and expectations during the semester.

3. Relevance and Pragmatism

According to Sogunro, “Relevance connects learning with reality.” To adults, learning is a way to achieve specific goals. In other words, adult learners are intrinsically motivated to learn since they have a practical reason for it. Thus, rather than focusing only on theories, Sogunro suggests that instructors include problem-solving and hands-on activities.

4. Interactive Classrooms and Effective Management Practices

In Sogunro’s study, 92% of the participants considered interactive classrooms and effective management practices motivating. Based on the responses, learners feel more driven when they can express themselves, ask questions, share ideas and problem-solve together.

5. Progressive Assessment and Timely Feedback

Assessment and feedback are two major influences on learners’ drive to learn. Over 90% of interviewees and participants stated that a fair number of assessments, along with prompt and effective feedback, is motivating. Sogunro notes that each assessment should have clear criteria. Additionally, feedback should be honest and respectful.

Wrap Up

Sogunro’s findings emphasize the need for instructors to continue developing their andragogical skills. The fact is that learners with low motivation tend to achieve lower academic success. On the contrary, increased motivation leads students  to successful learning.

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