Factors motivating adult learners
Education psychology has taught us for long that motivation is indispensable ingredient of learning. The current research acknowledges the role of motivation in adult learning. The primary focus of the study is to investigate the factors that motivate adult learners: mainly the university of Nairobi library staff. The study sought to add to available literature on motivational factors that describe reasons for adults participating in learning programmes. Consequently, institutions, policymakers, as well as educators would benefit with the findings which would help them in improving provision of adult education. Findings would also benefit adult learners in their lifelong pursuit. More specifically it set out to proof the hypotheses: that there is a positive relationship between adult learning and career! work advancement: that there is a relationship between adult learning and personal fulfillment; adult learning provides escape/stimulation. The first phase of the research led us to examine research production around the themes of adult motivation to learn, participation in adult education and adult learning. On the theoretical side, this research project was grounded in an interactive view of human motivation, considered as a "hypothetical construct used to describe external and internal forces that explain the start, strength, direction and persistence of action" (Vallerand & Thill, 1993). According to this view human motivation assessment must be regarded as a "snapshot" of the relations that establish themselves, in a given context, at a given time, between a person and his/her environment, or a part thereof. Literature reviewed indicated that motivation of adults to seek learning has been researched extensively in the recent past. Yet, the question namely 'what motivates adults to take part in and complete courses in continued education and competence development?' continues to be asked by educators, policymakers and employers. Hence, the engagement of the researcher to have a second look at the field of motivation and action within the realm of adult education and learning. The present research was designed to face these issues in a theoretical and empirical mode. The University of Nairobi was selected as a case study for the research. The sample was limited to the library staff, enrolled in adult education programmes either full-time or part-time. The Education Participation Scale (BPS)was used to construct the interview schedule. The six motivational factors identified by Morstain and Smart were used in the study. A total of thirty members of staff were interviewed. Factor scores were calculated by summing up individual responses to each of the items that had shown a high factor loading for that factor. The factor labels and sample items were: Social relationships, "To make new friends", external expectations, "To carry out the recommendation of some authority", social welfare, "To improve my ability to serve mankind", career! work, "To secure professional advancements", escape/stimulation, "To get relief from boredom", and cognitive interest, "Just for the sake of learning" Descriptive statistics were used to identify the proportions of motivational factors utilizing the six motivational factors as the dependent variables, with age, gender, entry qualification and academic qualification as the independent variables. The study found out that adult motives for participating in adult education have three major characteristics which are: plural, Changeable and contingent upon the individual's life context. However, they seem to follow four major orientations, derived from Houle's (1961) initial vision and organized on two axes: oriented towards intrinsic versus extrinsic orientations; oriented towards learningversus participating. The study further proved the stated hypotheses to be true. There was a positive relationshipbetween adult learning and career/work advancement, there was also a relationship between adult learning and personal fulfillment and also that adult education did provide escape. The study was also able to identify the factors that deter adult from participation in adult education programmes which are dispositional, situational and structural barriers. If such barriers are removed adults will be naturally motivated to educate themselves. In view of the findings, it was recommended that, if adult learners are to be adequately served institutions charged with the responsibility of provision of adult education must access the learners' needs and motivation factors and make appropriate adjustment in their administrative procedures, programming and if! the teaching-leaning process. In conclusion the researcher suggested that adult educational theory could benefit from wider analyses of the reasons why adult seek learning. Comparison of results obtained in variety settings could enlarge the vision of adult motivation to learn and develop. More research is needed to explore many other facets of adult leamer, in addition to motivation. Such dimensions as cognitive, emotional and moral development, and their relationships to learning motivation, should have implications for how adults learn in a higher education environment.
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School Of Education, University of Nairobi