Empowering Adult Immigrant Learners Through Systematic Motivation Work in the Classroom


May Olaug Horverak, Birkenes Adult Learning Centre, Norway
Gerd Martina Langeland, Lillesand Upper Secondary School, Norway
Kedir Diary, Lillesand Adult Learning Centre, Norway
Email: may.olaug.horverak@birkenes.kommune.no
Published: November 27, 2020

Citation: Horverak, M. O., Langeland, G. M., & Diary, K. (2020). Empowering Adult Immigrant Learners Through Systematic Motivation Work in the Classroom. IAFOR Journal of Education: Studies in Education, 8(4). https://doi.org/10.22492/ije.8.4.03


This is an action research study investigating how one can work systematically in adult learning centres to support adult immigrant learners to increase their intrinsic motivation and develop strategies to take responsibility for their own development and learning. We have applied what we call a five-step motivation method, where the adult students define and write down what is important to them, their success factors and their obstacles, and choose focus areas and strategies to apply to achieve what is important to them. As part of the process, the students also reflect on these elements in class discussions led by the teacher, which means that the students support each other to find solutions to their obstacles and to find strategies to work towards their goals. The student reflections from the sessions are part of the data collected in this study, and these are complemented by students’ self-reports on the usefulness of the approach. The project was carried out in several groups at three adult learning centres, and the findings show that the majority of the participants were satisfied with the approach. They report that they became better at planning and more motivated to work towards their goals. An element that was emphasised by the teachers was the importance of letting the students use their native language when needed. We conclude that the method we present here may be a useful tool to assist adult immigrant learners to experience intrinsic motivation and develop strategies for mastering learning and life.


adult learning, learning strategies, motivation, self-determination theory, self-regulated learning