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While your teachers and supervisors can try to motivate you, nobody can actually make you engage with all the learning opportunities that come your way. Being motivated is an essential ingredient in achieving good learning outcomes in any learning environment. However, it needs to come from within you. It is an attitude that can be difficult to learn if you are not naturally motivated. Being a motivated learner involves being planned and purposeful in your learning on the placement to ensure you maximise every learning opportunity.

Motivational learning habits

Motivation in the practicum setting is demonstrated by the following habits. If you are able to practise these, you will gain a lot from your placement:

  • Be prepared for the placement with clear ideas of your learning objectives and some background knowledge about the work of the organisation or project.

  • Be prompt with appointments and completing tasks.

  • Ask questions.

  • Volunteer to do extra tasks over and above those stated in your learning agreement.

  • Contribute to the maintenance functions of the team within which you are placed, or the staff in your area. These functions are the ‘social’ things that are done to ensure the smooth running of the team, such as offering to take your turn on the team roster to bring morning tea, volunteering to take notes at a meeting or participating actively in workplace meetings.

  • Be enthusiastic and positive about your placement and the opportunities it has to offer. If you are motivated and enthusiastic, you can expect others to be more responsive to you, resulting in a more rewarding practicum experience.

  • Care about the learning that is taking place and show a desire to learn material over and above what is ‘required’ for you to pass.

You may be surprised at how powerful motivation can be in helping you achieve your desired learning outcomes. This story about how an American student’s motivation got him an internship at the Oakland Raiders illustrates this.

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