Three Levels of Motivation in Instruction: Building Interpersonal Relations with Learners

By Cao, Katy Xinquan | Distance Learning, July 1, 2005 | Go to article overview

Three Levels of Motivation in Instruction: Building Interpersonal Relations with Learners


Cao, Katy Xinquan, Distance Learning


As teachers and instructors, what role do you think you should play in students' lives? Take a minute to think about it: did you have a professor who helped shape your life (in a positive way)? On the other hand, was there a professor to whom you never went back again? The teacher's goal should not simply be to teach the items in the curriculum, but also to be an example as a person and a respectable scholar for students. What kind of scholar you are and what you offer in your instruction are important motivators for students, and will impact their lives tremendously. The ties between teachers and students are loaded with emotions and responsibilities.

This article proposes a model that identifies three levels of motivation (3LOM) in instruction. It suggests that motivation can be addressed at three different levels: inclusion, entertainment, and edification. It looks at motivation from the perspective of social interaction. The focus of the model is to describe the teacher's role as an active party in the process of teacher-student interaction. The assumption is that ideal instructional interaction in class, as with any other types of social interaction, should attend to, and indeed give priority to, the students' certain needs and desires. Otherwise, it will turn into a bad experience that the participant does not want to repeat.

The following are the values underlying this model:

* The purpose of instruction should serve the positive needs of society and promote the development of society.

* The instructor should first of all have sufficient expertise and good qualities or standards that are acclaimed by the majority of society.

* The process of instruction and learning is one type of social interaction that should be carried out accordingly.

* The instructor should seek to understand the needs of each student.

* The instructor's first priority is to teach the things listed in the curriculum.

* If he or she can, the instructor should explore the learner's potential and provide guidance for the learners to achieve their potential.

* Learners have free agency. The instructor is not to force changes on them but cater to their individual potential and ambition.

An important stimulus of the model is Maslow's hierarchy of needs. The way that the three levels are organized as a hierarchy follows exactly Maslow's hierarchy. The highest level, edification, is the educational equivalent of Maslow's ideas of self-actualization and selftranscendence. Other references to literature in instructional design principles, motivation, and good practice in classroom have also contributed to the development of the three levels in this model of motivation.

MASLOW'S HIERARCHY OF NEEDS

The 3LOM model developed its framework from Maslow's (1943) hierarchy of needs, which stated that "human beings are motivated by unsatisfied needs," and "certain lower needs need to be satisfied before higher needs can be satisfied."

In the hierarchy, Maslow included general types of needs (physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization). He argued that these "needs must be satisfied before a person can act unselfishly." He called these needs "deficiency needs. As long as these cravings are satisfied, human beings will move toward growth, toward self-actualization. Satisfying needs is healthy; blocking gratification makes us sick or evil" (Maslow, 1943).

"Needs are prepotent. A prepotent need is one that has the greatest influence over our actions. Everyone has a prepotent need, but that need will vary among individuals" (Maslow, 1943). An actress may have a need to feel that her change of image is liked by the audience. A prisoner will need to satisfy his cravings for freedom and will not worry about his appearance. In a school setting, a professor may need students' respect and attendance in class. A student may feel that he needs to keep up with the rest of the class. …

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