What drives college students to learn?

I found this article on MindShift and would love to see what you all have to say about this. The author argues that in typical classrooms– students attend a lecture, memorize information, and go home– inhibits the learning process. The primary example leads us through professors’ account of student experiences in physics classes, and how they would take exams but fail to grasp the content conceptually.

Some instructors have tried more interactive methods of instruction, especially with numerous technological developments we have today. I believe this depends on the type of class. In my own educational pursuits, I’ve found that I need to learn materials through a lot of different ways. A “one size fits all” approach would not work for me.

But what about the students? What helps YOU learn best? What drives you? You pay to come to class (or, your education is funded through an institution/other forms of support), but what motivates you? As smart students at Purdue, share your thoughts.

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About Rebecca K Britt

I'm Rebecca, an Assistant Professor. I enjoy research & teaching, and painting. My husband and I love video games and traveling!

9 responses to “What drives college students to learn?”

  1. jhockersmith13 says :

    What motivates me the most to continue with my schooling is the fact that there is something out there better for me than just going to school and after graduation just go back home and work in the family business. I may or may not even use my degree after graduation, but I have learned way more in college that just how to read a text book. I have learn about life, values, the importance of setting goals, respect of various cultures, and I could go on forever. We all have the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness so everyday I look forward to pursuing those rights.

  2. brad5627 says :

    I think the biggest thing with learning is the setting… It is difficult to learn in a lecture setting like physics… I mean truthfully learn, not just rote memorize facts and problem templates to be able to do the hws and perform on the tests. To truly learn, I think it needs to be in a more personal setting where you interact with the teacher on a more one-on-one basis. I know that in my physics class in high school i learned all the content for the physics at purdue in one semester of high school because I was in a class with 6 other students. We didn’t sit in desks and stare at the board… we sat on the counters at the board with teacher and talked about physics. I learned the true fundamentals because i had a one on one environment to learn in… and that helped me so much. And i think that the lecture style classes are hard to learn in because the students aren’t as engaged in their learning as they are in a small group setting.

  3. Chris Gerber says :

    I will agree with this article 100%. In my four years here at Purdue, I really feel like I haven’t learned near as much as what I should have. I go to lectures, memorize items for the exam, then go home and forget it all. This is the way things are for the majority of my classes. For my aviation classes however, I feel like I learn more because things can be very hands on. I learn best in lab environments and sitauations where I have a hands on visual learning. I usually motivate myself to get things done and done well because I hate losing and I treat things like a competion all of the time. Hopefully I’ll learn more in my last year here.

    • Rebecca Ivic says :

      I’m a visual learner, too- I have to see how something is done and then try it. Abstract concepts do not mean a lot to me unless there is a real example behind that concept that I can recall. I remember when I first started learning about classical social science theories and not understanding them until I had to write about them or think about how to apply theory to research.

  4. lopurdue says :

    To be honest, what motives me the most to study is money. This “money” means not only the tuition but also wage that I will earn in the future. I am a Taiwanese and the tuition in the states to Taiwanese is crazy. Normally we pay about 750 dollars for every semester studying at colleges in Taiwan. As an international students in the US, I have to pay approximately 12,000 dollars for one semester. Also, the wage at South-east asia is three times less than the wage in the US usually, so I really cherish everything I can learn here even though some of the classes are pointless. Then I want to get a better job with a better salary in the future, so I truly work hard. My learning style is not to compare with others but compete with myself. This works out pretty well for me at this point.

  5. macupp says :

    Learning a new set of skills motivates me to study. That’s why I’m in school. To have better knowledge of a subject and to be able to use the skills that I gain for the rest of my life. In the majority of my classes there are labs were everything talked about in the lecture is then applied to what we have to accomplish in lab. I’m a hands on learner.

  6. Shelby Foster says :

    For me, I can’t just learn about anything, I have to be interested in the topic. I love to learn new things, and often spend a lot of time researching and learning about random things that fascinate me. However, no matter how much I try, I find it extremely hard to learn calculus or physics, or any other concept I don’t use, not because I can’t, but because I really don’t care to know. The only motivation to continue that education is the fact that they are required to graduate, but in those cases I memorize the facts, and as soon as the test is done I don’t retain any of it.

  7. jlauuu says :

    I really have a hard time getting motivated to learn at times. I feel that sometimes if I am not interested in the topic, then i have zero motivation to learn or let alone pay attention to what goes on. I want to maintain solid grades, and graduate relativley on-time, so I guess finishing college in my motivation to learn. I am a visual learner and that helps me. I like being able to see a topic or concept and associate it with a picture to help me remember. I feel like I attain knowledge im interested in so easily.

  8. Jillian Straub says :

    What motivates me to learn has always been the next step. In high school I had to do good to get into a good college, now in college, I have to do good to get a good job. Knowing this is really the final step, and I cans ee the light at the end of the tunnel it’s exciting to know this can be huge factor in how the rest of my life pans out.

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