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Tampere University Student's Handbook

Study motivation

Study motivation

Motivation is an internal force that energises and guides our behaviour. Students who are motivated take responsibility for their learning. They are keen to learn and committed to making effective progress towards their degree. Learning always takes work, but motivation will help you stay interested in your studies. While working towards your degree, it is inevitable that you will occasionally come across assignments that you are not that interested in, but you still have to work your way through them. What if you feel that you have lost your motivation?

Motivation is not a requirement to begin working as it will arise naturally when you start working on an assignment. Give up the idea that you need to be motivated or wait for the ideal mental state before you can start working. You can increase your motivation through goal setting. It is important to ask yourself what you want and what you are looking to achieve. How do you prioritise your goals? What will it mean for you to achieve your goals?  You should set goals that are clear, specific, measurable, scheduled, realistic and personally meaningful and important, so that you feel they are worth pursuing. Split your long-term goals into a series of intermediate goals. 

Clear and tangible goals will enable you to schedule the required action and your studies. By keeping track of your ability to stick to your plans and schedule, you can assess whether the goals you set are realistic. If you repeatedly set the bar too high, it can stir up unpleasant emotions (such as anxiety, fear of failure, and feelings of inadequacy and guilt) and negative thoughts, which may cause you to feel stressed and lead to increased procrastination and avoidance of tasks. There is a variety of strategies that we people use to manage our negative thoughts and emotions. One of them is procrastination, which means the act of postponing or avoiding an unpleasant task. To break the procrastination cycle, you should identify personally meaningful sources of positive reinforcement to maintain your motivation and make it easier for you to get started on your tasks. You should preferably use positive reinforcement in the form of rewards than negative reinforcement (punishment for unwanted behaviour). The rewards do not have to be anything major, but usually concrete and immediate rewards work best.


Tips for building motivation:

  1. Set clear goals. 
  2. Reflect on your goals. Consider what makes your goals personally important and meaningful.
  3. Divide tasks into intermediate goals.
  4. Create an action plan and schedule for reaching your goals (study plan according to the Smart model).
  5. Act rather than wait for motivation. 
  6. Monitor your progress and how well you are able to stick to your schedule.
  7. Create a mental image of your success. Envision yourself achieving your goals and celebrating your accomplishments.
  8. Generate social pressure to follow through on your goals. To keep you committed, tell, for example, a friend or a teacher what you are working to achieve.
  9. Develop and embrace a growth mindset towards learning.
  10. Acknowledge your achievements and reward yourself for your progress.

If you need help for brushing up your study skills, contact the University’s counselling services or study psychologists.

Published: 27.2.2019
Updated: 19.4.2024