Students motivation and approach to learning

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What has motivated me to study a Master's degree at Bangor?

Motive is "an inner state that energises, activates (or moves) and directs (or channelizes) the behaviour towards certain goals."[BURLESON and STEINER, (1964)]

Globalisation and social obligation symbolize my professional goals and are critical components of my career.  I really respect and believe in the concept of a double bottom line, or the potential for all projects to hike both assets and a social return.  

My background makes me capable of understanding the value of management with in an organisation and its potential to impact economies, regardless of scale (as my father works as the General Manager in the State Industries department Government of Uttar Pradesh, India). In the short run, I am here to learn in the field of business management. While pursuing my MBA in management at prestigious Bangor University, I will be able to improve my general management skills and gain hands-on-experience in the international business community. Ultimately, I would like to serve as the head of an Organization within a developing economy. I plan to collaborate with other professionals in my field who are also committed to fostering global entrepreneurship.

As I was an active member of my college student's community, I learned how to effectively manage large groups of people with diverse backgrounds. In these public speaking roles, I learned to market the school and solicit funds in a strategic and enthusiasm.  Similarly, furthering an enterprise in a developing country will assuredly require such skills as financial investments which play a fundamental role in any start-up.

The MBA (MANAGEMENT) will allow me to make a smooth career transition from consulting on a corporate basis to consulting in developing countries. Applicable in the field of development in emerging economies, the MBA will serve as a stamp for others to know the professional skills I possess, and will make me competitive worldwide.  

My search for an appropriate alma- meter started on the day when, highly influenced with my learning capabilities, my pre- university's head of the department proposed me to opt for overseas education to enhance my managerial skills. He did not want to undermine the abilities of Indian scholars but as the matter of fact United Kingdom is far more superior to India in terms of Business Management and technology. I consulted with Education Links (a premier consultancy in India responsible for overseas education) and got with a large number of universities across the globe including UK, USA and Australia. The keynote which attracted me most to pursue my higher education in United Kingdom was a very similar plain of education system in United Kingdom as shadowed in India which almost fulfilled my queries associated with education and kept me away to seek education other than United Kingdom i.e. USA and Australia .

The School is a great fit, to say the least, for my professional and personal goals.  Here, I am very excited about the immense resources available to me while studying within the Business Management curriculum. I see it as a champion in Management area, and now in love after becoming the part of a program of such calibre. I know the school will provide me access to countless opportunities in the field of social impact management.  Second, Now I am looking forward to complementing my undergraduate curriculum with a top-tier program in general management.  The School does not just provide a small component of management classes but a rigorous core of management experiences that I feel will challenge me on many levels. Finally, I seek to attend the School for its emphasis on global participation and community.  The School attracts students from rich backgrounds, creating a collaborative environment filled with motivated, and aggressive, yet social, students.  As many students come from an international background, it is incredibly valuable to me to contribute my own experiences to the classroom and gain knowledge from diverse classmates. All the while, the School will cultivate my inherent leadership qualities. I have come here with the very excitement of the prospect of forming relationships with other students who have a love for learning and members of the incredible alumni base who share similar career goals.

What is your approach to learning?

"The one who does the talking does the learning"- Thomas Angelo

Learning is a process which is continuous in nature and brings fairly lasting change in human behaviour that arises as a result of our experiences. Learning cannot be seen but it can be felt as a changed behaviour in human being and the way he responds in a specific situation. Learning is the difference between initial and final levels of performance on cognitive task (Glaser, 1967; McGeoch, 1942; Woodrow, 1946).

Many of the recent researches have shown the importance of students learning approaches as a major factor of academic performance and acquisition of knowledge which focuses on three important approaches of learning which can be "deep", "surface" and "achieving" (Duff, 2003; Duff, Boyle, & Dunleavy, 2004). Biggs (1987, 1992).

Some students may opt for surface learning approach where they are not interested in the task or work but their main aim is to learn the minimum amount of material and pass the subject or task. A deep approach to learning is the motivation which comes inherently and makes the individual to engage with the subject and learn it whole heartedly and theirs a desire in an individual to know everything about the subject or the given topic. The last approach to student learning is "achieving" where learning involves the students perspective and characterized by individuals goal oriented learning strategies and they are highly oriented towards and inspired by high grades and good results. These approaches can be further divided into motive and strategy because same approach may or may not describe the student's behaviour towards goals and their strategies to achieve the goal (Biggs, 1987).

My idea of learning is deep learning only where an individual focuses on the qualitative changes rather rote or content learning and has a deep analysis of the topic at the end of the learning process as I have tried my level best to analyse the whole content in this individual work assignment, I believe learning should involve more processing through certain discussions, reflections or any other activity which stimulate the body responses to solve the problem. I always focus on the next level of learning but one thing I always do is to relate previous knowledge to new knowledge and learning becomes more interesting and goal attaining. Deep learning is something which is intrinsic in nature and comes within an individual which helps the whole content to organize in a better structured way.

Deep learning is something which is as exciting and as challenging because it is an experience in itself which is not easy to forget. Motivation is good but when it comes from external sources again and again, it might force the brain to fight and chose to study to get good grades but then it becomes grade learning which is not fruitful in the long run.

Deep learning provides me a sense of control in learning as it provides relevance, where I see the information and learn it that way that it might be useful for me in the future. It facilitates my whole learning process and provides me a choice in my life. It makes my life more meaningful as I care about my learning. Deep learning challenges my abilities that how much you can retain in your mind and can use it in a more meaningful way in the future.

I think that students who adopt deep learning approach and its strategies give themselves the good opportunity to comprehend and apply new learning. Deep learning incorporates the ability of understanding ideas & concepts, solving problems and then applying the preceding knowledge to develop new links with new material to attain something out of that knowledge.

What issues do I anticipate in the group work?

A group can be said when two or more people are connected to one another due to social responsibilities and relationships (forsyth, 2005). The significant small group work is a major component of academic leaning where it has strong theoretical and empirical support through which its cognitive and motivational benefits are achieved (Dillenbourg, Baker, Blaye, & O'Malley,1996). These work groups lead to creative engagement in peer interactions, collective reasoning and construction of knowledge again and again through which the cognitive gain are achieved (Barron, 2003; van Boxtel, van der Linden, & Kanselaar,

2000) and therefore the group learning is an effective tool for higher level learning (Amato & Amato, 2005). There is proof that when students participate in group work their performance is enhanced (de Vita, 2002). Eventually there are many potential benefits of group work in academic learning yet there are many literatures written where students have negative perceptions while working in a group (Pauli, Mohiyeddini, Bray, Michie, & Street,

2007; Volet & Mansfield, 2006). The students experience various socio-cultural and socio- emotional challenges (Burdett, 2003; Garcia-Prieto, Bellard, & Schneider, 2003).

There can be various potential problems for students while working in groups which includes peers who are not motivated (Bourner, Hughes, & Bourner, 2001), language barriers and communication difficulties (Salomon & Globerson, 1989), the students are not able to manage the workload effectively (Feichtner & Davis, 1985) and that's why working and learning in small groups can result less fruitful process for the participant's to achieve positive outcome.

The issues in workgroup can be so many and there may be serious disagreements over needs and goals among team members. As I have worked in groups during my undergraduate programme through various assignments where we as student had to form group on our own or the groups were made but I am anticipating some different issues over here in Bangor university group works.

Cultural diversity and group work- This issue has been investigated by many researchers (Hobman, Bordia, & Gallois, 2004; de Vita, 2002; Watson, Johnson, & Merritt, 1998) and I strongly believe the findings have been remained unconvincing where one group of researchers found that homogenous groups are more happier and the motivation and success level is also high where conflict is also less Robbins and Fredendall (2001) whereas Banks and Banks in 2005 have found that the culturally diverse group work have positive outcomes.

For example: A research has been carried out in English speaking countries like United kingdom, USA, and Australia where majority is of International students and has shown that local and international students form their own group of similar ethnic background, they study and learn most of it from their own group rather exploring other cultures and groups formed with diversity in it (Ledwith, Lee, Manfredi, & Wildish, 1998; Trice, 2004; Volet & Ang, 1998).

Some of the researches have also provided empirical work to support that participation in diverse cultural group may prove beneficial and the students in diverse group outperform the group of individuals having similar ethnic origin because they stretch their knowledge, experiences, beliefs and understandings which have some differences and that's why they ask more question to each other and hence provide necessary aspect of productive collaborative learning environments (Cohen, 1994; King, 1992).

Attitude of each individual towards group work- The idea of attitude regarding group work does not represent only one dimensional construct but it is multi-faceted and interrelated dimensional approach for learning in a group. Therefore the attitude of each individual towards group work should be taken into account but the dimension should not be specific such as assessment (Gatfield, 1999), motivational conclusions (Boekaerts & Minnaert, 2006), but the most important aspect is to gain some valuable experiences while working in group combination (Volet, 2001).

Lack of communication or no communication- Conflict can easily arise when people speak different languages or even different dialects and therefore communication cannot be preceded in smooth manner which leads to misunderstanding in the group work. This lack of communication can be dangerous for the group motivation and its task, this can happen due to lack of attitude & motivation in the group, Absenteeism, not returning the phone calls, meetings not held on time which leads into deteriorating quality of work.

Absenteeism- When working in a group one of the most important feature is to be there all time whenever an individual is needed and Absenteeism leads to demotivate the other members in the group as the work pressure become enormous to meet the deadline.

Misaligned goals- In the group work where individuals have differences in value or political aspects which prevent them to pursue and reach mutual objective.

Poor time management in group work- Some individuals in group are working whilst other sit idle and not do work and if they do then not on time, this blocks the whole production process.

Coordination problems- The inherent quality of group is that it's different from individual performing task because there is need to coordinate in order to manage and succeed in the group work to achieve success in the group (Van de Ven, Delbecq. & Koenig, 1976). Therefore process of coordination takes effort which can be focussed towards direct production and hence success. Coordination is one of the extra activities which must be performed by the individuals when working in a group to achieve common goal over and above what they must do to achieve the goal individually ( Malone and Crowston, 1994).

Motivational Problems- when an individual works in a group, it may enhance or reduce the motivation level of an individual. The group norm may be to work hard or slack off which depends on the history and background of the individuals, the explicit goals are set up for the group (Locke & Edwards, 19xx), the members of the group can be directly participated or the group norm force them to participate in common goal setting (Coch and French, 1964). Social loafing is one other determinant in which the motivation of group members is degraded.

Synchronization Barriers- In a group work when individual presents one output to a group which does not meet the inputs needed by other group members at that time because they are wrong or presented at a wrong time.

Lack of leader and leadership qualities- Whilst working in the group, leader should emerge and take responsibility to make all team members to work as one productive unit through its leadership qualities.

Not completing work on time and the quality of the work- It's the responsibility of each and every individual to complete its given task on time with quality in it but this can be only possible when everyone in the group feel motivated.

Hoarding useful information which can be beneficial for the group- When acting in a group, then there is no use of hoarding useful information which can be beneficial to all other group members and hence your group work will succeed.

How will you attempt to address these?

It's not easy to fully resolve the issues which I have anticipated while working in group activity but through keeping certain things in mind and acting on those things, most of the issues can be resolved easily by acting actively with creativity in mind.

Calmness- When working in group where various differences may arise and leads to Conflict which generally creates strong feelings and even anger but this situation should be managed with calmness in each individuals attitude and the scene should be created where a compromise can be made and further work in the given activity may succeed.

Showing respect is necessary- It doesn't matter how much you disagree with someone on one point or other, its duty of all members to show respect to everyone and attack the argument not the as Nelson Mandela elucidated in his autobiography "Long Walk To Freedom": "I defeated my opponents without dishonouring them".

Assigning the work- Each and every individual should be assigned their specific task in a certain group activity and it's the responsibility of each member to act actively and give work on time and if it doesn't happen the group as a whole should ask the team member about any problem he is facing that can be resolved just by discussing or debating.

Discuss or debate- It is often that various issues arise during group work but is of utmost importance to discuss or debate the topic rather than making assumptions on other person's perceptions or ideas. Talking and communicating is an important aspect in it because many issues can be resolved just by talking, communicating and sharing the information, feelings and problems.

Acknowledge emotions- it's a fact that if you acknowledge other persons emotions and perceptions, various issues can be resolved then and there only. Always use some phrases like let me try to explain the fact the way I see and why this is so important for all of us.

Be precise- its duty of all group members to be precise and make it easier and clear for all group members in the group or in other words try to be simple that everyone in the group can understand and focus on the group activity.

Think creatively- It's one of the most important parts of the assessment where many issues can be resolved or redirected in such a manner that group can focus on the group activity and accomplish the goal. Group should do work with graet creativity in it so that it can be differentiated and has some unique selling proposition or U.S.P in it.

Compromise- Compromising is eventually good for all members of the group which is often neglected. If you are not able to choose between a city holiday and beach holiday than try to have a two centre-break.

Seek reconciliation- it's really necessary to seek a third party who will normally be able to propose a third way, and the settlement can be done, when no other way is left to proceed in the given task and achieve success in it.