UCF professor's book teaches students to self-motivate
With busy schedules demanding students' time, it can be hard to push forward and keep motivated throughout the semester. But with the right mindset, motivation doesn't have to be a struggle.
Bobby Hoffman, a UCF associate professor who teaches Motivation in Learning and Performance at UCF's College of Education and Human Performance, has written a book that details how to overcome motivational challenges through self-awareness and practical strategies.
"Motivation is about knowing yourself. If you know yourself, you can make changes," he said.
When Hoffman's students started complaining about the technical journals they were assigned to read in class, he came up with the idea of writing a practical, nonfiction book written in a conversational tone, titled Motivation for Learning and Performance.
The book is geared toward students and learners interested in leadership, as well as psychology majors and readers of nonfiction who want to increase their self-awareness. Hoffman said students can benefit from his book because it will allow them to know the biases they possess and help them overcome these misconceptions. If they don't, he said they may wind up in a pattern of motivation that's not productive to them as an individual.
"The most prominent aspect is the fact that students in particular tend to self-handicap," he said. "Those are strategies that people use to mask who they really are, and conceal to the general public their motives. Procrastination, for example, is a self-handicapping strategy."
Students may experience self-handicapping when they are overloading on courses, setting unrealistic goals, taking easy classes or blaming a housing situation or the end of a relationship for lack of focus. Hoffman said these types of self-handicapping serve to hide the underlying fear of failure, which is the most frequently supported motive behind procrastination — not the fact that students work better under the pressure of a looming deadline.
In an effort to make his book stand out from other assigned reading in school, Hoffman interviewed people who he thought readers would be able to connect with on a personal level, including motivational leaders in public professions, ranging from music to sports and business to Hollywood.
Hunter Douglas, a senior psychology major, said a book like this can benefit even the most motivated of people because everyone runs into roadblocks, and this book could serve to prepare them for possible problems in the future.
"Motivation is never a bad thing. Finding out what motivated others could serve to motivate me in similar ways," he said.
Hoffman's goal for his book was to transform scientific principles into useful knowledge that could help people to become more successful in their lives and to see the real-world application and support of his research through his interviews.
With a Ph.D. in educational psychology — the study of teaching, learning and motivation — Hoffman said he was well-equipped to begin working on his book in 2013, and was willing to accept help from everyone he knew, including students and family. Through such connections, he had access to influential individuals whom he considered motivational leaders.
Hoffman said the interviewing process taught him a lot about what it takes to be successful, and he said all his interviewees had four main commonalities — they all believed they controlled their destinies, thought mistakes were opportunities to learn and grow, had access to a mentor or support system and expressed receptive attitudes toward constructive criticism.
Evidence gathered in the book comes from different fields, such as business, education, athletics and neurobiology. Hoffman said the incorporation of neurobiological evidence adds to the uniqueness of the book, teaching students the theory behind the information and the practical application of that knowledge.
Although the book may be able to help some, junior creative writing major Veronica Stewart said she would prefer a speech on motivation rather than a book.
"There's a lot of passion in voice and tone that gets lost in the translation of writing," she said. "I would prefer to be vocally rallied into action."
With this in mind, Hoffman said he plans to host podcasts to reach a wide variety of students.
For more information on Motivation for Learning and Performance, visit findingMO.com.
Alissa Smith is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.