Motivation is essential to success in everything we do. This is especially true in self-directed learning where an absence of a teacher, peer, or mentor means the learning experience can be a lonely journey. For instance, in my research on the self-directed learning journeys of minority college students, motivation played a key factor. The students decided to pursue and ultimately finish their self-directed learning goals because they were motivated to learn that topic. Self-directed learning can be a long and arduous journey, therefore, making motivation an essential and continuous component to successfully completing our self-directed learning goals.
In his paper, Regulation of Motivation: Contextual and Social Aspects, Christopher Wolters looks at motivation during the self-directed learning process. More importantly, can learners self-regulate motivation? According to Wolters, yes. He views regulation of motivation as a key aspect of being a self-regulated learner. Learners who can effectively manage their motivation for academic tasks are likely to engage and work harder and effectively than those who do not. A learner’s management of their motivation depends on their knowledge, monitoring, and engagement of regulatory strategies. Wolters notes there are three key “facets” for self-regulation of motivation for learners. The first facet is the meta-level knowledge—the understanding needed to regulate motivation. Meta motivation is the learners’ knowledge of the topics, and domains they find interesting or enjoyable. Additionally, beliefs around particular activities and their
motivational level represent task-related metamotivational knowledge.
The second facet is the monitoring of one’s level or state of motivation. The learners’ management of their motivation depends on their ability to observe and gather feedback on their ongoing motivation for an academic task or activity. Learners can self-assess their motivation before a task begins (prediction of motivation), during a task (experience of motivation), or after a task has been completed (reflection on motivation). This assessment is essential for the learner because it helps them highlight when motivation is waning and whether there needs to be some sort of intervention to increase motivation. The third facet is the process or strategies the learner enacts to intervene and control their motivation. This process is the one learners engage in order to manage either the level or nature of motivation.
Are you a self-regulated learner? How do you self-regulate motivation?