Motivating Learners – 17 Steps

On of my fellow Classmates had the topic Motivating Learners as her discussion forum.  She posted the  following 17 steps by Pappas (2013).  I found this helpful for me, hopefully you will too.

Motivating Learners. 17 steps by Pappas (2013). The source can be found in the sources below: for quick and easy access.

  1. Create useful and relevant learning experiences based on the age group and interests of your learners
    Emphasize on the practical knowledge. It is important to design a course that provides immediate relevancy. Learning materials that can be put into practice. Adult learners appreciate more practical knowledge, rather than extraneous facts and theories.
  2. Facilitate exploration
    Even though children are famous for their exploratory nature and curiosity, adult learners, too, sometimes like to take the opportunity to construct knowledge in a way that is meaningful to them. For this reason, you should have all sorts of materials, references, infographics, short videos, lectures, podcasts and free resources available.  In such a perfect learning environment learners are more likely to get inspired or find something that makes them want to learn more.
  3. Build community and integrate social media
    Keep in mind that social media websites are a powerful tool for collaboration, commenting and sharing. You can facilitate group discussions and communities. People will quickly start exchanging knowledge, and will also have fun, social media is fun!
  4. A voice behind the video is not enough
    Add a personal touch. Your course needs to have a face. Make yourself available to people, invite subject-matter experts, authors, professors and other specialists in live online discussions and question and answer sessions.
  5. Challenge through games
    Come up with different problem solving exercises and case studies. Make your learners look for and find solutions.
  6. Use humor
    Humor would work great even with the most demotivated learners on your course. When your students know you are funny, they will listen to your material carefully, cause they wouldn’t want to miss on your witty sense of humor. You can never lose with that.
  7. Chunk information
    Chunking is essential, as it helps people remember and assimilate information. Small bits are easier to process.
  8. Add suspense
    Don’t give out everything your course is about in the beginning. Yes, you need an overview, but keep some interesting points until the time is right. No one likes to read a book if they know what’s about to happen.
  9. Accommodate individual interests and career goals
    Empower learners to work on these goals and individualize the training to suit their needs.
  10. Stimulate your learners
    Encourage them to think by either providing them with brain teasers, or by asking thought-provoking questions.
  11. Let learning occur through mistakes
    According to a German proverb “you will become clever through your mistakes“. Have you heard the famous expression: “Practice makes perfect“? Of course you have! Henry Roediger who started a learning experiment divided his students in two groups. Group A studied natural sciences paper for 4 sessions, while group B studied the same paper for one session and was tested on it three times. According to the experimenter, one week later, students from group B performed 50% better than Group A, even though they studied the paper less. The results clearly support the argument that “practice makes perfect“.
  12. Make it visually-compelling
    Did you know that 83% of learning occurs visually?
  13. Get Emotional
    If you don’t sound inspiring, if your materials are not exciting, how will you motivate your learners? Get them emotionally involved too – come up with controversial statements, tap on memories, add real-life stories.
  14. Get examples of their workplace
    Your learners may not always remember to associate what is learned with its application at the workplace. Sometimes they might need reminders and a clue to help them make that connection.
  15. Be respectful to them 
  16. Ask for feedback
    It is motivating to know that your opinion contributes to the course.
  17. Present the benefits of undertaking the course
    I don’t know why I didn’t start with this one. Sometimes outlining the benefits is all it takes.


VIDEOS and Web Articles


Other References


Barkley, E. (2010). Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. Tips and Strategies for Promoting Active Learning: p.124. Jossey-Bass: John Wiley & Sons; San Francisco, CA.


Summary of Discussion Forum – Essential Questions

Discussion Forum topic; Essential Questions

I have been asked by Doug Mauger to wrap-up my topic with a final summary of key points.  Thank you to everyone who took part for their thoughtful and thought provoking examples and answers to my questions in the discussion threads that I presented.


  • Total posting 41
  • 2 discussion threads
    • 3 Essential Questions on Essential Questions.
      • 39 postings representing 36% of the class contributed
    • Wait Times is an Essential Technique for Essential Questions.
      • 2 postings representing 14 % of the class contributed
      • 2 postings after the close of the Forum Discussion. representing 14 % of the class contributed


Essential Questions are questions not answerable in a single lesson or brief sentence. Their aim is to stimulate thought and to provoke more thought provoking questions. By answering Essential Questions, students/learners are engaged in learning more and thinking more deeply on the topic of inquiry.

Answering Essential Questions allows student/learners to explore their personal experiences of the world and see the connection to the outside world. When Essential Questions are asked to the class it allows students/learners to hear or share others experiences or perspectives on the topic.

  • Implementing Essential Questions. First off it is not easy to create a good essential question. The trick is to find a question that is not too broad nor too difficult. It has to be designed so it can be answered as well as promote further discussion. Designing the perfect Essential Question can take several attempts of asking and getting feedback and then revising.
  • To implement the Essential Question can be done in a Four Phase Process or an 8 Phase Process. The 4 Phase Process is: 1) Introduce a question designed to cause inquiry. 2) Elicit varied responses and question those responses. 3) Introduce and explore new perspectives. 4) Reach tentative closure.
  • Length of Wait-Time is a key effective response strategy to getting the most out of the Essential Questions. The length of wait-time is the period of time of teacher’s silence after posing the question. The longer the teacher waited for students responses the longer the students responses were and their contributions were more relevant. Also the number of next level questions increased and the slower learners and introverts also had a chance to respond.

Essential Questions start students exploring big ideas leading to desired understanding. For each important idea in a unit there should be a companion Essential Question.

The desired behaviour by the end of the course is the students will be autonomous questioners. Meaning they will be askers and pursuers of Essential Questions of every big idea they encounter outside of school without being directed by teachers. Eventually the students will be asking Essential Questions at their work, in their communities and among friends.

Articles (these are all linked to the articles)

Dr. Viktor E. Frankl called Man’s Search for Meaning

For a link to his book click here. Author: Stahl,Robert J. Using “Think-Time” and “Wait-Time” Skillfully in the Classroom. ERIC Digest.


McTighe, J. Wiggins, G (2013) A Four- Phase Process For Implementing Essential Questions, 4, 44-49: Essential Questions: Opening doors to Student Understanding.

McTighe, J. Wiggins, G (2013) Developing Questioning Autonomy, 4, 59-60: Essential Questions: Opening doors to Student Understanding

McTighe, J. Wiggins, G (2013) Response Strategies – Wait Time, 4, 52-53; Essential Questions: Opening doors to Student Understanding


PIDP 3100 Assignment 2 Blog entry under construction

Reflections on Foundations of Adult Education Blog

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Flipped – Pros and Cons

Entry 2 – Reflect on The Power of Introverts

 Objective: One idea that really stood out for me in Susan Cain’s Ted Talk – The Power of Introverts, is Introversion is about “how you respond to stimulation, including social stimulation.” Also that 1/3 to ½ of the population is an introvert.

Reflective: I knew about the difference between Introverts and Extroverts because I have a son who is an introvert and he is very different from my other two children who are more extroverts. I am aware that some students need to have time to come to their answers by working alone or they need to process information by having some time to quietly think about their answers. After seeing this video I feel I can do a better job of allowing the introverts more time to work quietly or alone.

Interpretive: In the video Susan Cain makes a plea to “stop the group work”, so I suppose that the first question for me is whether or not I can stop group work altogether when more than half or half the class works well in groups. Also the job of a conductor does require group work some of the time. The video Collaborative Group Work with the 1-3-6 Protocol.  The  1,3,6  Protocol demonstrates that it is important to have some time for students to work alone on an assignment then to work in a small group of 3 then collaborate with another group to make a large group of 6. This idea may solve some of the introverts needs for alone time and slowly warms them up to people by working with a small group then to moving into a large group.

This notion of introverts vs. extroverts is widely supported. A 2012 study completed by Randy Buckner of Harvard University discovered that introverts tended to have larger, thicker gray matter in their prefrontal cortex — a region of the brain that is linked to abstract thought and decision-making — while extroverts had less gray matter. Buckner concluded that this might be accountable for introverts’ tendencies to sit in a corner and ponder things thoroughly before making a decision, and extroverts’ ability to live in the moment and take risks without fully thinking everything through (which has its cons and benefits, of course.)

I have noticed at the beginning of the program the class is split into three distinctive groups. Extroverts, the group in between Introverts and Extroverts and the Introverts. In the beginning the Extroverts get the class going by engaging the in between group and they tend to be the ones most often answering questions. Then slowly the in between group warms up the introverts as well as engaging the extroverts. The in between group grows more outspoken and the Extroverts grow a little bit quieter. At the end of the program the Extroverts are listening to the Introverts and the Introverts share more of their thoughts and ideas. Their thoughts tend to be deeper thoughts and their ideas are well formulated.

When I pose Essential Questions at the end of the course there does not seem to be any one group more vocal then another and there is more thoughtful calm discussion among them.

Decisional: So, what can I do in my classroom? In Introduction to Industrial Organization there are two assignments. One is a project for 2 students, the other is a project for 4, In the project for 2 I can give the students a choice. Students who would prefer to work alone on a project can and those who would like to work with one other person are welcome to.

In the project for 4, I will let the students know ahead of time when they will be working in groups and I will limit the amount of time they will have to work together. Within the group I can assign each person a task that they can work alone on, then they will bring their work into the group and work collaboratively.

Lecia Bushak (2014) The Brain of an Introvert Compared to that of an Extrovert: Are they Really Different?, Medical Daily

video Kevin I Sevin (2013) Collaborative Group Work with the 1-3-6 Protocol.


Instructional Strategies-Digital Project link

In addition to the link below I would like to expand on the expectations of Teachers and Students when implementing the  4-phase process of Essential Questioning. 

When using this process the Instructors are required to introduce the purpose of the Essential Questions.  I usually start with stating that railways are large complex organizations where owners, managers and employees each play different but key roles. Considering another point of view with an open mind will help you,(the student) clarify and expand your thinking and understanding of each of the different roles.

The instructor will need to prepare for the question with relevant reading material, or a news link for the students to read or watch.  Then the instructor needs to provide a question that will start the students thinking.

The instructor needs to allow for 5 minutes of quite thinking and reflecting before encouraging the students to express their ideas.

Then the instructor will provide new information, or data into the discussion.

The students are expected to openly share their thoughts, past experiences and new ideas on the topic.