Monday, September 22, 2008

Motivation Factors

A friend of mine has just joined a new office, a BPO, where she’s taking voice and accent training classes. And it seems that, most of the training is classroom training. The subject seems so apt for a good blended-learning model, I’m surprised that the organization (a pretty large one at that) has chosen to stick to the traditional model. But, what I found more interesting is that the trainer uses a version of the “reward” and “punishment” motivator. For every mistake a trainee make in class, like mispronouncing a word, using slang, etc., he/she is “charged” a fixed sum. Every error has a “fee” assigned to it depending on the gravity of the error. An account is maintained for these transactions and apparently, if the trainees complete the training successfully, the fund collected will be used to throw a party for the class.

Frankly, initially, I was skeptical about the effectiveness of this motivator. My reasons being:
The trainees are not kids or teenagers; they’re adults, most with some kind of experience in the same or similar industry. This kind of motivation is (to me) a little juvenile for the audience. In the beginning it might seem a fun thing, but I think after a point, they’d stop caring too much about it.
There are punishments for errors, but I didn’t hear about any rewards for good performance. Where’s the balancer then? We need a positive motivator too right?
If we consider the end-of-training party to be a positive motivator, well it gets more interesting. To really have a good party, the trainees should in fact make as many mistakes as possible, deliberately. Because remember, that’s how the party is being financed.

But, then when I thought about it some more, I realized that something like this would probably encourage them to follow the trainer’s guidelines at all times, irrespective of time and place. It could simply be a fun element the trainer wanted to add to the class, which also makes the trainees consciously aware of their mistakes. And that’s how most of the real-world practical learning takes place, through trial and error. If you think about what they’re trying to teach and learn- language, grammar, voice, and other spoken language issues, it seems more likely that the students would learn from their own and others’ mistakes.

What are your thoughts? Do you think this is an effective way to get the trainees involved? Or would you try something completely different?

P.S.: I wonder if the errors are pointed out only by the trainer or does the group also take note of the errors on their own. If the entire class is involved, it might work better.

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