In the spirit of this chapter, I want to start off with a story and a question. In one of my graduate courses in Adult Education one of our professors took us on a field trip to visit the WISH Foundation, an organization that that “works to improve the self, safety and well-being of women who are involved in Vancouver’s street based sex trade.” For me this experience connected adult education in the community with social justice and helped me understand why adult learning mattered. This one moment helped motivate me for the remainder of my program.  This example connects with how Lang looks at motivation, in particular his discussion of the importance of “self-transcendent purpose.” In this post I will focus on the role of purpose in motivating students.

Take a few minutes now, think about and share a significant experience in your learning that motivated you? What was the experience? What impact did it have on your studies? To what extent  does it fit with how Lang connects emotion, purpose and motivation?

Emotion and Motivation

In this chapter Lang focuses on the role of emotion in motivation. At the outset of this chapter he suggests that this focus on emotion is complimentary to research on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and that the reader should, “Consider emotions as a motivating force that have the power to drive both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated learners in the right circumstances.” (Lang, 2016, p. 104) He describes three key elements of research on emotions:

  1. Emotions can help capture the attention of our students
  2. Infuse learning with purpose, especially self-transcendent purpose
  3. Emotions are social and that by connecting students


The idea of infusing our learning with a sense of self-transcendent purpose really resonated with me as a teacher and a learner. In my own experience when learning activities  are connected with changing the world in a positive way, it can be incredibly motivating for learners. One example of have seen of this is action is courses or programs that have students create or edit articles for Wikipedia in-order to improve coverage in areas such as female artists, Canadian female scientists and indigenous authors. It is incredible to see how motivated students often become when completing assignments assignments that are so strongly liked with the public good.  In addition, to transcendent purpose,  Lang suggests a number of different ways of ensuring our classes are purposeful including

  • Mentioning the purpose behind different assignments and approaches we take in our courses
  • Reminding yourself of why your discipline does matter and including this in assignments, syllabus etc.

Enthusiasm, Social Connection, Compassion

In this post I have mostly focused on purpose and emotion. Lang also shares ways that the teacher can increase motivation by enthusiastic, fostering social connection and showing compassion. The approaches included the following:

  • Share your enthusiasm for the subject or topic
  • Tell great stories or even frame your lesson with a story or big question
  • Connect with students and find ways to make help them connect with each other
  • Show compassion towards students


What are some ways that you infuse your classes  with a sense of self-transcendent purpose? How can we balance compassion with fairness in the classroom? Is Lang’s approach to motivation sufficient to increase motivation in our classrooms?

Please discuss in this week’s forum: Chp. 7: Motivating and join us for the live web conference meetup on Friday, November 1st at 11:00am.
See How to Participate.

Follow Up

I wanted to follow-up the virtual session with my slides and a resources about Digital Hubs that Laura shared with us

Digital Hubs to support social learning

Virtual Discussion Slides