The Four Contexts of Motivation

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Malcolm Knowles’ research in adult motivational learning produced four “distinct contexts”; Practical, Personal, Experiential, and Idealistic. The Practical context is motivated by a direct desired benefit result received from the learning such as a specific employment position, for financial wisdom and gain, or to apply the learning towards greater competency and confidence in making life decisions in situations anywhere from family to work, or even building that dream house that may have previously thought to be unattainable. The Personal context involves motivation directed by self fulfillment goals to overall better oneself and therein the quality of life. An adult student may for example want to learn in this context to increase self worth. Experiential learning differs from the other contexts in that one draws from real-life and past experiences motivated by a desire for renewal by consolidating with more current and forward ideas with the goal of improving and refreshing their experience. The final Idealistic context motivation attracts those who just desire to continuously learn for the sake of the ongoing discovery of knowledge and new ideas throughout their lifespan. Learning wine tasting may be a venture for this type of learner. My learning motivation is Experiential. Professionally I have experienced a long career in the Human Resources field and held BA degree positions despite the fact that I did not have one. I do have my PHR but have learned mostly in a hands-on context. I have experienced both successful and unsuccessful situations during my career. I started my college education years ago and have procrastinated about returning for many years. I finally came to the realization that I need that degree and everything it offers in order to become more competent and confident in my business decisions. The unsuccessful situations I have experienced were due to my lack of a solid educational background. When I lacked the...
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