10 tips on developing motivation for your learners

Why does motivation play a central role in the process of learning and participation? Motivation to learn drives the need to satisfy an individual’s perceived need. A need in this sense is the discrepancy between the current state of knowledge and the preferred future state regarding a subject: “A discrepancy is an inconsistency between ‘what is’ and ‘what ought to be’.” (Fox and Miner, 1999).

“Motivation is the translation of a person’s basic psychological needs and drives, filtered through their view of the world, toward an action with an anticipated result.”

In any teaching role, understanding and effectively intervening in the realm of a learner’s motivation are important skills needed to effectively facilitate learning and changes in clinical practice
because, depending on the level of motivation, it can be predicted not only what one learns but also how.

Some strategies to increase learner motivation are:


  • Brissette A, Howes D. Motivation in medical education: a systematic review. WebmedCentral Medical Education. 2010;1(12):WMC001261.
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  • Fox RD, Miner C. Motivation and the facilitation of change, learning, and participation in the educational programs for health professionals. J Contin Educ Health Prof. 1999; 19(3):132–141.
  • Knowles M. The Adult Learner: A Neglected Species. 2nd ed. Oxford, UK: Gulf Publishing; 1978.