Motivation of learners is spurred by a need for a challenge or variety, for the enjoyment of learning something new as well as recognizing the need to keep current with new technology and methods. Interestingly, learners did not report that this impetus for utilizing new learning in the work environment was for monetary reward or the possibilities of upward mobility. Although one workplace instructor suggested an in house reward system as appropriate recognition for informal learning, the workers failed to comment on this. A spoken message of thanks from co-workers and managers was the immediate and unanimous response from all learners, when asked about the appropriate ways to be recognized for a job well done. This is seen as far preferable to monetary reward. As one leaner expressed:
“If it is a gift, or monetary, then the focus is the gift, not the goal.”
A sampling of learner responses from the ELLI survey upholds the above stated need for challenge. For example, responses to those questions targeting imagination and creativity by and large indicated a connection with learning a new task through their own reliance on free thinking skills and optional ways to approach a task. The questions focusing on dependency elicited responses that were in keeping with this attitude as well, with workers minimally dependant on others when tasked with figuring out a solution to a new problem. Respondents saw challenge as a positive thing when they indicated their preferences in the “growth” questions category. They also identified success by having the confidence to question, modify or change for the sake of improvement. Is this ability to do their jobs in creative and solution-focused ways underpinned by confidence gained in other successful learning situations at the workplace? It would appear so.
Two of the three learner interviewees agreed that outside of work they have ample opportunity to practice their new skills in their volunteer work such as in the United Way writing for donations, on a health and safety committee, and in dragon boat fund raising. The ability to access information from the Internet, open discussion with co-workers and supervisors, technical manuals and attendance at meetings were cited as very beneficial. The process of accessing information has also sharpened writing and speaking skills. As one learner believes, he is
“…more specific in my communication skills. I ask more specific questions and get what I need…. communication is our biggest breakdown – now I am more precise.”