The most prolific form of a learner is a student enrolled in a formal school of learning to acquire a degree, which extols academic performance. The inherent implication is that a student is an individual who studies what is being taught by way of formal instructions. The inherent flaw is the passivity, which is the bane of the current way of imparting learning.

Socrates (400 BC), a great philosopher had put forward that a student is someone who is responsible for his or her own learning. The Socratic Method is a form of co-operative dialogue between individuals to stimulate critical thinking and ideation. The urge to question, ponder, think, discuss and deliberate is a student-someone responsible for her own learning. Independent students who are capable of learning by themselves are hard to find nowadays.

Normally, most of them would require some motivation to learn; either from their peers, teachers or parents. This is called ‘extrinsic motivation’, which is used in the classrooms round the world and in many cases, throughout the duration of study. This kind of behaviour, based on rewards, works in the short-term but does not create life-long learners. A self-motivated student on the other hand (even in a classroom setting) chooses an activity or a task or a course because of her own interest and willingness. This called as ‘intrinsic motivation’ that creates a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. These self-motivated students with an insatiable appetite for learning will continue to learn throughout their lives without the need for an external reward.

Self-motivation is an ability to do what needs to be done, without influence from other people or situations. Therefore, self-motivation plays a crucial role in the students’ knowledge attainment and academic achievement. It builds a foundation for self-confidence and success. A self-motivated student sets new goals, chases dreams, stays positive, generates new ideas and never gives up. Learning is a journey and not a destination. Even if someone is forcing you to attend school or university concentrate on learning and not just taking classes as the journey for life-long learning has just begun.

Some useful tips for self-motivation:

  • Take personal ownership of your knowledge and learning
  • Create a plan: weekly/daily planners
  • Build a routine: time management for organisation
  • Sleep, eat and exercise: Healthy body, healthy mind
  • Celebrate your achievements
  • Identify comfortable work/study environments
  • Connect with support systems: parents, teachers, mentors
  • Do not procrastinate: Time is a scarce resource
  • Be positive: Believe in yourself
  • Avoid time wasters such as video-games and chats that are time killers
  • Use technology: Internet is a great servant, not a good master
  • Set SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound

Self-motivated students tend to more organised; have good time-management skills and more self-esteem and self-confidence. These tips coupled with student-centric strategy of learning will fuel the self-motivation to improve learning outcomes as enunciated by great philosophers and as enshrined in our scriptures. To elaborate, the Socratic method combined with technology can make learning fun and addictive.

The usage of online platforms such as MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses) provides an affordable and flexible way to learn new skills and deliver quality educational experiences at scale. This pedagogy tool enables a student to learn at her own pace; it encourages the students to interact with the others without geographical or time barriers.

The chat forum enables students to post queries and enter into discussions and/or prompt questions which are the edifice of self-motivation as it encourages independent learning among students. It empowers students to create their own paths based on the personalisation of the learning experience. Increased innovation in teaching method calls for a paradigm shift in education for all the stakeholders and more so for teachers. The teacher has to be facilitator, mentor and a guide to enhance students’ motivational level. The informal method referred to as ‘Education 1.0’ was more personal.

‘Education 2.0’, which took many centuries, was mainly focused on mass dissemination of knowledge and information.

‘Education 3.0’ saw the emergence of Internet and IT and provided a technology platform to learn. The teacher-centric system was paving the way for the emergence of a learner-centric ecosystem. ‘Education 4.0’ puts the student at the centre and empowers her to create a unique learning path that is digital and resource-intensive.

The teacher-instructor can create content, upload content, and encourage co-creation with students by assigning tasks that involve critical thinking in an open atmosphere. The students will become valued members of a learning community. The motivation will happen.

To sum up, motivation is important for teachers and students. Motivated teachers inspire students to focus. And students motivated for learning inspire teachers to teach.

(Inputs given by Timira Shukla, Dean Academics, Jaipuria School of Business, Ghaziabad)