Learning Motivation

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Learning is a process that permanently changes behaviour with the result of experience. (Cherry, 2009) Alternatively, it can also be defined as knowledge or skill acquired by instruction or study. Learning, from an individual’s personal experience, can be summarized as a lifelong insatiable process that drives the inner self to absorb anything and everything that one hears, sees or reads for personal growth to make a better person and conducive living. There are five different ways of which learning can be studied. Learning as a quantitative increase in knowledge- it is a form of acquiring information. Learning as memorising – storing of information that could be used for reproduction later on. Learning as acquiring facts, skills, and methods that can be retained and used as necessary. Learning as making sense or abstracting meaning – it involves relating parts of the subject matter to each other and to the real world. Finally, learning as interpreting and understanding reality in a different way which involves comprehending the world by reinterpreting knowledge. (quoted in Ramsden 1992: 26) (Smith, 2012).

A question was raised, ‘What makes a human acquire knowledge? What makes a human want to learn?’ The answers varied from it being a necessity, for competition purposes, or simply, the act of curiosity. It may also be of positive motivation from the surrounding environment, but what caught my attention was of it being an instinct upon birth.

If learning changes behaviour permanently, what then is motivation?

Motivation is defined as a process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviour. In our everyday life, motivation is used to define our actions (Cherry, 2012). As an example, motivation drives an individual to resume a pursuit in higher education after a certain succession of time away from the field. Motivation may be delineated specifically into three major components. Primarily, activation initiated the behaviour in an individual to re-enrol in university. Consequently, persistence, a continuous effort that an individual puts in order to overcome obstacles such as to complete tasks assigned before respective deadlines. The final delineation would be intensity, which is viewed as the concentration that is put in to achieve the goal.

Motivation can also be branched out to Extrinsic or Intrinsic (Cherry, 2012). Drawing from personal experiences, when an individual is asked to perform weekend duties at work, the said individual is motivated to complete the said task due to the reasoning that he or she would gain double monetary compensation for that day of attendance. This would be an apt representation of extrinsic motivation due to the external factor of monetary compensation or rewards at the end of the day. However, if the said individual is asked to complete an assignment, it is not purely for the sake of completing the said task, but due to the nature of curiosity within encouraging the need to obtain more in depth knowledge for personal gratification.

With the understanding of the definition of ‘learning’ and the two branches of ‘motivation’, we study the motives of five different perspectives of which psychology extends a say in ‘learning motivation’; psychodynamic, behaviourism, humanism, cognitive and biologically.

Psychodynamic, the first and foremost study in the field of psychology, is the study of the unconscious mental forces (Cliff, 2011). Based on the original theoretical standings of Freud, a psychoanalyst whose theories are clinically derived, a technique called free association to replace hypnosis was developed. He directed his patients to relax and report anything and everything that came to their mind, regardless of how strange it sounded. He collected data based on what was reported to him during therapy and formulated a theory that a human behaviour and feelings are mostly negative flashbacks from...
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