Does motivation matter in distance education?

Does motivation matter in distance education?

Distance Education Issue (Lack of Motivation) and Its Significance

Evidence suggests that learners’ motivation, beliefs, and attitudes play a critical role in their academic success along with social background and school behaviors. Studies indicate that there is a significant rate of drop out in distance education than in on campus studies (Willging & Johnson, 2004). Some facts about distance education are, about 30-50% students drop out before finishing and about 27.3 % is due to lack of motivation and contact.

Factors involved in the drop out in distance education include socio economic status, grade retention, parental involvement, student engagement, lack motivation, academic performance (Smith, 2014). Out of these as an educational guide and facilitator, a teacher could do much in motivation and student engagement (Visser, Plomp, Amirault, & Kuiper, 2000).

Though technologies offer interesting, efficient, effective opportunities for learning it is found the lack of attention given to fact of motivation. The blogger selected lack of motivation as student’s issues, further discusses its significance in distance education, strategies to improve motivation, and the role of the nurse educator. The writer believes motivation matters and educators have their own role in motivating students.

 What is motivation?

Motivation can be simply defined as an internal drive that activates behavior and gives direction to behave.

Types of motivation

Two types of motivation intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is when you do something because you find it interesting and love to do that, and extrinsic motivation refers to behavior that is driven by external rewards such as fame and praise.

Factors influencing motivation:

Course design, degree of interaction available, facilitator role, lack of skill in identifying less motivated students, social support and isolation, negative emotions such as anxiety, sadness, depression, and lack of technological skills are mainly considered as the factors influencing motivation (Morrison, 2012).

Strategies to improve motivation.


According to Vermont learning is not automatic it depends on the strategies. First, improve communication with students is the priority to improve motivation, anxiety that is the fear of the unknown and uncertainty leads to lack of motivation and leads to drop out. Beginning period is the most crucial period due to lack of technical skills as well fear of unknown (Visser, Plomp, Amirault, & Kuiper, 2000)

As an educator, how could we improve those situations?

In order to ease student’s text based communication and respond to students frequently are recommended, if not, at least in as short message for example “received” would be helpful to decrease and ease anxiety. The instructor could spend additional times with students during the beginning period. Reinforcement, additional support from instructors assist students to feel confident. According to motivational theorists allowing students choice and control their learning activities enhance their learning intrinsic motivation (Willging & Johnson, 2004).

So, developing a communication instrument is important at the same time it may not be necessary to be highly sophisticated technology. Development of motivational message and its ongoing evaluation is necessary to develop valid, practical, and effective motivational strategies. For examples, motivational text messages and motivational emails are a form of motivational support (Morrison, 2012).

Collaborative Approach

Another important factor is that the distance student’s retention will always depend on less technology rather than more on personal human support. Lack of support and isolation could lead to lack of motivation and finally drop out.  Students counselor and educators play an important role in human support, student counselor could make calls and send emails very often and ask for support and direct them to technical support especially in the orientation and the beginning period (Morrison, 2012).

As a facilitator, an educator could provide a collaborative learning environment and encourage and facilitate socialization, interactivity and engagement with peers and in the learning forum. Finally, the group task accomplishment enhances self-esteem as well diminish the status of social isolation in learners (Morrison, 2012).

Course Design

Another factor influence motivation is the course design. Evidence suggest that organizing short, self-contained segments, summaries and contents has more practical value (contents which are transferable into daily life) are more motivating. Providing a proper study guide are equally important in motivational strategies. As discussed earlier adequate and immediate feedback from facilitators, presence of site facilitator, understand motivational principles by course designers and instructors are some of the other motivational enhancing technique (Crotty, 2013).


The big truth is that the students are in control of their learning, such self-regulated learning students monitor their own behavior. Even though its self-regulated, recognition and motivation of their work are inevitable in their learning process. The teacher should teach students to set short term goals, about self-discipline, teach through examples, and provide positive feedback (Crotty, 2013).

Guidance and Support

Organization, critical thinking, time and study management, self-regulation, effort regulation, help seeking are some of the learning strategies assist with success. Out of those, organization, critical thinking, self-regulation is the main positive predictors for the success in distance learning (Morrison, 2012). Instead of unnoticed and undetected, as an effective educator, distance educators need to be skillful in identifying those who lack the positive predictors as well give proper direction, guidance in the early stage itself could solve the issue in the beginning and retain the learner. Interest, early submission, completion of work on time or before are considered as the indicator of success candidates

Knowledge of Educator

As instructors, they must know the learning strategies, motivational theories, motivational factors, and its importance in student’s success and should give proper guidance and instruction could lead students to succeed in their educational journey. This could start from the orientation period itself. Proper orientation, how to learn through electronically, 24 hours’ technical support, use of mentors are some of the other institutional support (Morrison, 2012).

Per Devon Hanie, news editor, administrative and faculty agree that student required more discipline to succeed in distance education than on campus, if the learner hasn’t had that ability the chance to drop out is increasing (Haynie, 2015).  Those who understands the benefits and pitfalls of education in the early stage itself will retain and continue. As conclusion, I would say that facilitators as nurse educators and student’s counselors have an imperative role in guiding and motivating the students of course, motivation is of matter.

Students will come and join the program will they succeed and retain?


Crotty, J. (2013). Motivation Matters: 40% Of High School Students Chronically Disengaged From School. Retrieved from

Haynie, D. (2015). Experts Debate Graduation Rates for Online Students. Retrieved from

Morrison, D. (2012). How to Motivate Students in the Online Learning Environment. Retrieved from

Smith, C. (2014). Extrinsic Motivation. Retrieved from

Visser, L., Plomp, T., Amirault, R., & Kuiper, W. (2000). MOTIVATING STUDENTS AT A DISTANCE: THE CASE OF AN INTERNATIONAL AUDIENCE. Retrieved from



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