How to stay motivated in an online class
As human beings, our behaviors and our goals are bridged by many factors, a major one being motivation. In essence, the more motivated we are, the more likely we are to act towards the goal. Similarly, as motivation diminishes, so does performance.
In the context of online learning, sustaining motivation is vital in committing to the assignments as well as optimizing the learning experience.
As students identify motivating factors, their willingness and eagerness to tackle the classroom will likely follow accordingly. Research also shows the importance of motivation in the dynamic relationship between cognitive, emotional, and behavioral engagement.
As a student, this means that staying motivated is a key element in not only completing coursework, but also in advancing your learning.
However, while the unique nature of the online learning environment provides flexibility and accessibility, it can also pose barriers to sustaining motivation. Students who are accustomed to regular in-person lectures, discussions, and reinforcement may find it difficult to have little to no in-person interaction with classmates or instructors. As a result, it can be challenging to maintain enthusiasm without the social energy of a traditional classroom setting.
Sustaining the fire – how to stay motivated
As an online learner, instead of allowing your motivation to diminish, it’s important to proactively establish ways of sustaining the fire that drove you to the classroom in the first place.
Here are a few ways you can stay dedicated to your pursuit:
1. Elevate your motivating factors.
Of course, grades are important. However, if you want to gain a more meaningful experience that promotes relevant learning, consider aiming for intrinsic motivation rather than just extrinsic motivation.
For example, extrinsic motivation, like good grades or earning credit hours, is certainly motivating as it provides a concrete reward. These aren’t typically aspects to be overlooked. However, intrinsic motivation, like understanding the learning material as it relates to your life or achieving mastery of the subject, can help you stay on track eagerly.
As your curiosity increases, it is likely to affect your overall motivation to invest in the content, which can lead to improved learning.
2. Participate in the online community.
Connect with other online students to foster encouragement and incentive through discussions and feedback. The online community is filled with students, so connect with classmates to share experiences.
For example, take advantage of the “study lounge” feature in Blackboard. This provides students with a designated support forum as an opportunity to communicate with one another, discuss course content, post questions, and offer and receive support.
If you feel you need assistance beyond the study lounge, you can always contact your instructor for content related questions or your student support specialist with questions regarding program policy, course materials, and how to proceed through the course.
Even though you’re remote, you’re not alone.
3. Use visualization.
Use visualization as a constant reminder of your goal. Imagery can help you recall information quickly and effectively, so if there was a specific catalyst to your learning pursuit, display it for immediate prompting.
For example, print a picture of your motivation and hang it wherever you do the bulk of your work or write daily quotes in your agenda. Some students also find it helpful to create a vision board using magazine cut outs, online pictures, newspaper clippings, etc. It’s a fun exercise that also helps you paint the bigger picture for your goals.
These ideas will help you literally keep your eye on the prize.
What does success look like?
Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out, so commit to staying motivated along the journey. If discouragement surfaces, ask yourself how you can sustain the level of motivation that was the spark for you in the first place.
This will help you not only complete the work, but also apply higher levels of engagement and leverage all that your learning experience has to offer.