Motivation Understood In Terms Of Individual Willing Education Essay

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Motivation can be understood in terms of individual willing to make a particular level of effort towards their objective, while committing themselves for a particular time period in the direction of working towards a predetermined objective (Steven et al., 2005). Motivation is therefore a set of positive forces that cause individuals to behave in certain manners and practice certain behaviours that enable them to achieve their objectives. Motivation determines the individual's performance level and success. There has been an array of theories that attempt to understand the concept of motivation in individuals, study the need for motivating in order to achieve better results.

It is only natural to find that there can be different and various reasons for students undertaking a master's degree and they are driven by students' personal needs, wants, desires and objectives in future life. Thus there are a range of motivations for which an individual choses to join Masters Education programme. While some individuals may be motivated towards postgraduate level of education because they wish to enhance and widen their knowledge and expertise in a particular field of study or a subject, some may be tempted to improve their employment prospects in the tough job market, some for improving their lifestyle and status by increasing their current salaries and some for moving up the ladder in their organization. In a study- "The Taught Postgraduate Student Experience" by The Higher Education Academy in January 2008, the topmost motivations for a postgraduate programme were as follows:

Enhance chances of better employment

Progressing in their career path

Personal interest in the education and subject

Requirement for specific skilled professions

Enabling themselves for higher qualification and education

Another important aspect I put-forth is that initially no matter what motivation factors work for a postgraduate student, some of us are highly motivated in the beginning but the same level of motivation is often difficult to maintain as the studies progress. It is essential that we maintain the same motivation level throughout the Masters Programme duration. To be successful in our motive, we need to keep our motivation intact. There might not be any immediate results and rewards and we may feel that the feedback provided to us is nothing but criticism. This should not limit our efforts and we should continuously strive to improve ourselves and accept challenges positively. Initially I had been experiencing problems with the content and assignment write-ups, however I am trying to improve and manage it more effectively. In the next section I am mentioning two of the motivation theories which explain the motivation and to which I can relate my personal motivations for joining Masters programme at Bangor University.

Self-efficacy theory

We can understand self-efficacy as to how and to what level we estimate our personal effectiveness in a specific situation. It is our belief in our own capabilities to organize our approach and perform accordingly in order to achieve the results we wish to. Therefore I believe in my own capabilities as a Masters student and I plan and execute on the basis of determined motives and desired results.

According to Bandura (1997) who proposed the self-efficacy theory, the concept of self-efficacy has two interrelated constituents- the actual capabilities and the perception of our own abilities. Thus it measures competencies on two levels- actual and perceived. I believe that I am capable of pursuing a Master's programme on the basis of my estimates of my own capabilities and then there are actual required competencies which test my beliefs. Thus, my perception motivates me to believe and perform to required levels. If I remain motivated and believe in my own strengths, abilities and skills it will be extremely helpful to move on with a positive attitude.

Components of Self-efficacy- Process of goal realization

Bandura (1992) found that students who possess a higher level of self-efficacy are persistent in their efforts and maintain the interest in learning and it significantly improves their performance. This is because if I believe in my competencies in a particular subject and programme, I will make better decisions about my course of actions to achieve the desired results. This is even more important in the situations where the desired results are not achieved. I must believe to succeed in similar situations in future. Self-efficacy doesn't only help us to form a positive perception of my own abilities but also compare them against the required competencies which are needed to pursue a Master's degree. I possess the pre-requisites for carrying on with Master's programme. Bandura (1982) also found that in the event of failure high esteemed individuals are capable to cope in better ways.

Expectancy theory

Vroom proposed the "Expectancy theory" which says that different individuals have their own personal goals and objectives and are motivated as they have certain expectations. This theory doesn't focus on the internal needs; instead it focuses on the results or outcomes. Vroom concentrated on the importance of our efforts towards a plan, and these efforts are a result of our motivation which causes us to perform and achieve the desired outcomes. Put simply according to Expectancy theory "motivation" is the degree of eagerness to achieve something and what are the probabilities that we can achieve that something successfully and in the way we wish to. That something in this case is my Masters education at Bangor University. This theory is built upon three variables called Valence, Expectancy and Instrumentality. Their relationships are following:

Rewards-Personal goals relationship=Valence.

Efforts-Performance relationship=Expectancy.

Performance-Rewards relationship=Instrumentality.

Vroom's Expectancy Theory

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On this Master's programme at Bangor University, my efforts are driven by the expectation of receiving a Postgraduate education and gaining the most from an international exposure and a completely different system of education. These expectations help me to perform while being motivated to do so. When my efforts are well-directed, I perform in improved ways and I achieve my academic rewards which in turn help me to attain my personal goals and objectives.

Postgraduate students also influence motivation through factors such as desire, values, and beliefs that make them act. Postgraduate study is a goal-oriented venture and value is attached to it (Wilkinson 2006). In considering issues such as family relationships, grades, career, aspiration, achievement status, money, and social life, the postgraduate student gradually understands motivational needs. Goals and desires grow from values and beliefs.

Motivation is related to commitment. Postgraduate students must be committed to good study habits and staying motivated. Activism and some aspects of social life may have to wait, even if these are part of students' values, beliefs, and pleasures.

Maintaining Motivation and Goals

Postgraduate students must realize their strengths and weaknesses. Informal assessment of ability should be done, along with reflection on lectures and discussion with lecturers and fellow students. Reading and writing skills should be self-assessed and critiqued. This prevents under-estimation or overestimation of one's skills and helps in attaining goals. The establishment of both short- and long-term personal goals is crucial. Postgraduate students often aim toward a particular project, degree, graduate program, and professional career.

These can be supported with goals such as living a healthy lifestyle, maintaining personal integrity, and working hard. A short-term goal can support or lead to long-term goals. For example, a postgraduate long-term goal to become a university professor might start with series of short-term goals related to good study habits and commitment to academic activities.

Pursue a subject you enjoy: The pursuit of knowledge for knowledge's sake can be very enjoyable and motivating. A great deal of personal satisfaction can be gained from sharing ideas with other like-minded individuals who share your passion for a subject. Postgraduate study can also provide an intellectual challenge and research degrees in particular can allow you to make a real impact in a specific research area.

Competitive edge: although not essential for many areas of work, a postgraduate qualification can provide a distinct advantage for job applicants, particularly when competition is fierce. A postgraduate student with specialist knowledge differentiates themselves from other graduates and may be more attractive to an employer.

Improve career prospects: a postgraduate qualification may increase long-term earnings, although it may not necessarily enable a higher starting salary than a graduate.

Necessary for chosen career: some careers require a professional qualification for entry, for example teaching, law, social work and librarianship.

Change to a new career area: conversion courses can allow those who have studied general degrees to take a vocational direction, e.g. law or psychology. They also allow a move from arts to sciences or can add additional skills, such as IT, to improve employability in your target job area.

Specialisation: a postgraduate qualification can help to develop a deeper understanding of a specific subject area that is related to your first degree. This may help you to pursue a specific career.

Showing commitment to a chosen career: Further study can demonstrate determination to succeed in a chosen career area and may improve employment prospects.

Transferable skills: you can develop transferable skills through postgraduate study, such as project management, critical thinking, research skills, time management, presentation skills and teamwork (from working with others on projects). Employers look for these skills on your CV as well as specific qualifications.

Networking: you can greatly improve your employment prospects by building up a network of useful contacts. Postgraduate courses put you in touch with people in the industry and work placements can lead to possible work opportunities.

Entry to academic careers: a Master's degree or PhD is in most cases a necessity for entry to academia or research positions.

Expense: you must take into account that there is less funding available for postgraduate study than for undergraduate courses and many students have to either find sponsorship or fund themselves by working part-time or by getting a loan.

Which theories of learning are relevant to your Masters studies, and why? Please select two and relate them to your personal experiences.

Social Learning Theory (Bandura)

People learn through observing others' behavior, attitudes, and outcomes of those behaviours. "Most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others, one forms an idea of how new behaviours are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action." (Bandura). Social learning theory explains human behavior in terms of continuous reciprocal interaction between cognitive, behavioural, and environmental influences.

Necessary conditions for effective modeling:

1. Attention - various factors increase or decrease the amount of attention paid. Includes distinctiveness, affective valence, prevalence, complexity, functional value. One's characteristics (e.g. sensory capacities, arousal level, and perceptual set, past reinforcement) affect attention.

2. Retention - remembering what you paid attention to. Includes symbolic coding, mental images, cognitive organization, symbolic rehearsal, motor rehearsal

3. Reproduction - reproducing the image including physical capabilities, and self-observation of reproduction.

4. Motivation - having a good reason to imitate. Includes motives such as past (i.e. traditional behaviourism), promised (imagined incentives) and vicarious (seeing and recalling the reinforced model)

Bandura believed in "reciprocal determinism", that is, the world and a person's behavior cause each other, while behaviourism essentially states that one's environment causes one's behavior, Bandura, who was studying adolescent aggression, found this too simplistic, and so in addition he suggested that behavior causes environment as well. Later, Bandura soon considered personality as an interaction between three components: the environment, behavior, and one's psychological processes (one's ability to entertain images in minds and language).

Problem-Based Learning (PBL)

Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is a pedagogical approach and curriculum design methodology often used in higher education and K-12 settings.

The following are some of the defining characteristics of PBL:

* Learning is driven by challenging, open-ended problems with no one "right" answer

* Problems/cases are context specific

* Students work as self-directed, active investigators and problem-solvers in small collaborative groups (typically of about five students)

* A key problem is identified and a solution is agreed upon and implemented

* Teachers adopt the role as facilitators of learning, guiding the learning process and promoting an environment of inquiry

Rather than having a teacher provide facts and then testing student's ability to recall these facts via memorization, PBL attempts to get students to apply knowledge to new situations. Students are faced with contextualized, ill-structured problems and are asked to investigate and discover meaningful solutions.

Proponents of PBL believe that, as a strategy, it:

develops critical thinking and creative skills

improves problem-solving skills

increases motivation

helps students learn to transfer knowledge to new situations

Referring to relevant theories, what have been the advantages of working in a group?

What were the disadvantages and how did you deal with these?