Physical lectures, Bouwpub, stale machine coffee and small talk in the bike shed made room for browser issues, quarantines, muted educators and Zoom showers. Concentration problems, motivation loss and lack of interaction are at the order of the day. In case you haven’t managed to lose your study motivation over the past near-year just yet and would like to join the lament, or when you find yourself being demotivated and are in need of some proper reverse-psychology* to get remotivated: this article might be exactly what you need.
1. Start doubting your academic ability. Let’s be honest: you didn’t end up getting accepted into this masters’ program because you’ve spent years and years of studying, examining the world around us, developing yourself, understanding the principles of research in an IE related field and mastering the art of earning ECTs. It was all a mere combination of paying thousands of Euros on tuition fees and stumbling upon an enormous amount of questionable luck that got you here. Assigning your current academic position to your intelligence or past efforts is sheer nonsense. In case you feel capable, make sure to avoid talking with novices/laymen about the courses you take, and looking back at previously taken hurdles or conquered challenges. Start the day by looking in the mirror while telling yourself that you’re dumb and end the day with a disparagement to boost your self-doubt.
2. Drop the towel. Aside from doubting your academic ability, be skeptical of your capacity to exert efforts at all. Studies show that students’ beliefs about their academic ability and capacity for effort are inherently linked to academic withdrawal (Legault et al., 2006). Past exams, papers, presentations and especially your bachelors’ dissertation all passed themselves and didn’t require any planning, efforts or coping strategies from your side. The last thing you’ve done during your pre-IE epoch is build muscles to make putting your shoulder to the wheel ever be fruitful. It’s hard to even throw in the towel when you don’t have any muscles, so just drop it. Scrap any new-course resolutions you might have and show the world your finest study flight behavior. If you’re not ready to scrap your resolutions just yet, start setting the bar way too high to make sure to disappoint yourself. Motivation is influenced by the perceived marginal value of progress (Heath et al., 1999), so stop celebrating small successes and complimenting yourself on taking any kind of effort because they have a strong potential of relighting your fire.
3. Grow antipathy towards the program. Do what you dislike, and dislike what you do. When tasks are perceived as uninteresting, uninspiring, monotonous or dull, they can severely temper students’ enthusiasm (Legault et al., 2006). Assume your teachers choose the most tedious types of assessment just to bully you, and pick the most boring topics for your assignments. Avoid interest triggers and choose electives that sound either utterly boring or extremely complicated for people with your bachelors’ background. Devalue course objectives and depreciate any of the insights you’ll gain. Burn your motivation letter, and never talk about the relevance of our field and what you hoped to achieve by registering for this degree. Reflecting on your choice of masters’ is ok, as it might make you realize that it’s probably best to drop out. By all means avoid sparking your interest or making course elements ‘fun’, and kindly request instructors to stop using Kahoot.
4. Avoid social interaction or seek discouragement. If you have roommates, try finding a place for yourself or lock your door and pretend you’re never home. Strengthen your isolation by being a jerk to others. In case you’re already on bad terms with your roommates it’s alright to roam around them so that you can occasionally pickup some negative vibes. When finding yourself in a social situation, stick to chitchat and abstain from sharing how you feel. Disable your webcam and microphone when attending lectures or group discussions. If you’re in a Shift committee, step out to upgrade your feelings of disengagement.
Although the presence of motivation isn’t necessarily related to academic achievement, it does lower distress while studying (Baker, 2004). Definitely something worthwhile pursuing in these home-bound times. Reverse-psychology doesn’t always do the trick but hopefully at least I managed to make you either smile or cringe. If not, I hope you know that we’re all in this together (a.k.a. you’re not alone) and that (re-)connecting with fellow Shifties is bliss.
By Esther Bliek
*= Is reverse-psychology not really your cup of tea and was this article of no use to you? Here are 5 ways to make yourself study when you have zero motivation.
Baker, S. R. (2004). Intrinsic, extrinsic, and amotivational orientations: Their role in university adjustment, stress, well-being, and subsequent academic performance. Current Psychology, 23(3), 189-202.
Heath, C., Larrick, R. P., & Wu, G. (1999). Goals as reference points. Cognitive psychology, 38(1), 79-109.
Legault, L., Green-Demers, I., & Pelletier, L. (2006). Why do high school students lack motivation in the classroom? Toward an understanding of academic amotivation and the role of social support. Journal of educational psychology, 98(3), 567.