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Increasing Learners’ Motivation with Austin Welch

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Episode summary 

In this episode, Robin chats with Austin Welch about how to increase learners’ motivation. In the podcast, Austin shares how the three key ingredients of intrinsic motivation can be applied to create educational and compulsory training videos that are informative, yet entertaining and engaging for the audience. 

About Austin Welch

Austin is the co-founder of Sage Media, a company focused on producing training and development content that is captivating and engaging for the learner audience. He combines research from behavioral psychology, cognitive science, and adult learning theory to create educational films that resonate with the audience and drive behavioral change. Through a combination of learning strategy, story design, and video production, Austin is revolutionizing the way that companies train and connect with their employees. 

Key Takeaways

“We must create environments in which learners can find their own intrinsic motivation.” - Austin

The three key nutrients for intrinsic motivation include:

  1. Sense of autonomy: allowing free will to guide your decision making
  2. Sense of mastery: feeling good about your skills and what you do
  3. Sense of relatedness: how we relate to the world and the people in ours
  • When creating a mandatory course for employees, you can still create a sense of autonomy by giving them options such as what order they flow through the course or being able to choose when to take the course.
  • A sense of mastery can be encouraged when you ask them to bring their own life experiences and lessons into the course.
  • To boost relatedness, you can create message boards and forums where learners can bounce ideas off each other and connect around the content they’re learning
  • Deductive learning is the traditional approach where you’re provided information, examples to reinforce it and are quizzed on it later. Inductive learning is where a learner is provided with examples and then they’re asked what they can infer from it, really tapping into the critical thinking element. This taps into their autonomy, mastery, and relatedness.
  • Research supports that using traditional pen and paper workbooks while learning helps commit the information to memory and behavior.  Workbooks provide an opportunity for exploration while reinforcing learning concepts and ideas. They help leverage the mastery/competence and autonomy factors.
  • We should shift our mindset from checking if employees are completing the training just to check a box to whether they’re demonstrating the results of the training. This will tell us more about whether an employee is a good fit, whether the training is effective, and if adjustments need to be made.
  • When creating a training on sensitive topis such as anti-harassment, language like “don’t do this or this will happen” tends to feel accusatory and divisive but rather, find ways to create a sense of relatedness between the learner and the content. For example, asking “As a leader, how can you step in to create a culture that feels safe for your staff?” focuses more on building relationships and fostering a healthy company culture than the laws and regulations of harassment.

To learn more about learning motivation, Austin recommends reading research on intrinsic motivation and self determination theory. 

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