Your level of motivation affects your chance of succeeding in your studies because academic success is a combination of skill and will. That is, what you know and how you apply yourself. This means the more motivated you are, the better you'll apply yourself.
Students are motivated when their efforts are followed by rewards, such as success in assignments and exams. This results in positive reinforcement. Poor motivation results from negative performance feedback. In other words, if you study hard but don’t get the results you had hoped for you may not feel motivated to continue.
How to increase your motivation
- Talk positively – What do you say to yourself or to others about yourself? Do you put yourself down or make negative comments about your chances? If you find yourself doing this stop, and give yourself positive messages. For example: 'I can succeed.' 'I’m good at …', 'I passed my previous assignment so I can pass this one too'.
- Think about your successes – Make a list of things you’ve done successfully in the past. This could be assessments, exams, getting a job, painting the house. Think about how you achieved those things and use those techniques again.
- Form mental images of working towards successful outcome, such as studying hard and passing. Keep thinking about this, reinforcing the image.
- Revise with a friend or fellow student. Then if one of you is having a bad day, the other can be encouraging and get you motivated again.
Positive Psychology - Dr Aaron Jarden, Open Polytechnic (YouTube video, 3.23 mins, opens in new window)
Set realistic goals
If you feel overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to do, try setting some realistic goals.
- Start by looking at the tasks you need to do.
- Divide them into smaller more manageable parts.
- Then set a mini deadline for each of them.
- Check that your goals are achievable.
By planning, thinking positively and setting goals you are taking control of your studies. But if you find you still aren’t achieving what you wanted to, check yourself and how you’re approaching your learning. Think about what works for you and what doesn’t. It’s amazing how many students continue to use strategies and techniques that don’t work for them simply because that’s what they’ve always done. If you don’t think the strategies you’ve been using work all that well for you, then try some new strategies.
If you realise you have been making excuses for not studying write down the excuses you use. For example, I’m too tired, too far behind, too busy, my children, I have too many other responsibilities, etc. Then look at what you can change for each. For example:
- My kids – you could arrange for a friend or family member to care for them your children while you are studying, promise to return the favour once you’ve finished your assignment.
- Too far behind – see if you can take some leave to catch up with your studies, and get ahead if possible.
- Too busy – maybe make meals you can double up and freeze half so you have extra time some evenings.
You should also look at your study timetable and make sure you’ve included specific times by which each task must be finished.
You can also increase your motivation by providing your own positive reinforcement or rewards. A reward can be big or small, as long it's something that you'll look forward to. For example, a walk on the beach, watching your favourite TV show, going to the game on Saturday, a great cup of coffee, etc.
Once you decide on what rewards will motivate you check your study plan and make sure that you've divided your work into do-able chunks. Plan a reward at the end of each chunk