A heuristic approach to motivation

I’ve been pondering more about curiosity and ‘making it meaningful’ and how we might work on motivation to make learning truly meaningful. I’v come up with a rough cut. So, here’s a proposal for a heuristic approach to motivation.

As I mentioned, the desired true intrinsic motivation may be a goal too far. When possible, perhaps in a deeply specialized field, I’d go for it. In fact, that’s my first recommendation:

1. If there’s a surprising answer to a question that’s directly relevant, use it

I’ve seen folks do this by asking questions that the audience is likely to choose one answer, and it’s counter-intuitively wrong. Here, it has to be directly relevant to the question! For instance, asking in a ‘how to do multiple choice right’ class what they think is the right number of choices (turns out: 3). This is close to true intrinsic motivation, because folks interested in the topic might be surprised about the result, and therefore inquisitive. Surprise is great if you can get it!

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