Keep Motivated/alx

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Keep Motivated
Contributors Christian Köppe, Thomas de Cortie, Ronald van Broeckhuijsen, Gerard Bosma
Last modification June 5, 2017
Source Köppe (2012)[1]; de Cortie, van Broeckhuijsen, Bosma & Köppe (2013)[2]
Pattern formats OPR Alexandrian
Learning domain

When the group started working on the assignment, they were motivated. The group already did Spread Tasks Appropriately (Spread Tasks Appropriately). They tried to resolve previous conflicts (as in Mediate the Dispute (Mediate the Dispute)). If there has been a lack of knowledge or skills, they did Clear Up Questions (Clear Up Questions) and Fill Knowledge Gaps (Fill Knowledge Gaps). They are either in the beginning, in the middle, or in the final phase of the project.


During the execution of a group assignment, insufficient participation, bad quality deliverables or simply not getting satisfaction from the given tasks can be the result of decreased motivation.

Unmatched Skills. It is important that the assignment is at a level students are able to do or that it is not too easy. If the assignment requires the students to do something above or below their current knowledge, this can cause a serious drop of motivation. The feeling of not knowing how to do certain parts of an assignment, especially if it’s not possible to Fill Knowledge Gaps (Fill Knowledge Gaps), results in that they are unable to finish the tasks properly. This can have the same demotivating effect as if they can do something without any effort.

Too much Pressure. As students are often doing more than one class at the same time, it can happen that these classes will have assignments and deadlines that are not far apart. This can result in an unexpected high working pressure to finish all requirements in a short period of time. If the working pressure is unrealistically high, there is a chance the student decides that he probably would not have enough time to finish the requirements, so he could decide to do nothing at all.

Loss of Interest in the Assignment. When an assignment progresses, it could happen that a student loses interest in it. It can be that the student is not interested in the subject, or sometimes an assignment or course can be a lot less interesting than the student expected in the first place.


Therefore: Try to get tasks assigned which you are interested in or switch (temporarily) to another role in the team. Try to keep everything interesting and help your fellow team members, especially those who struggle with motivation or with their tasks.

There are different forms of motivation, usually those are split in 2 categories: Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Motivation. Intrinsic Motivation is internal motivation, like being motivated by something you like to do, or because you think something is important. Extrinsic Motivation is external motivation, for example the possibility to get a reward for doing some work.

Usually it’s better when people are motivated intrinsically, with this way of motivation it means that the student is motivated by his own thoughts and ideas. He could want to improve his knowledge about a certain subject or is simply just motivated because he enjoys it.

The first thing is to try to find the reason for the lack of motivation, to see if it comes from within or from the environment around you. It is important to know what is causing the problem. Once this has been found, only then it is possible to start working on that particular issue. There are different solutions, depending on the reason behind the lack of motivation.

For example, to regain interest in a uninteresting assignment, a good way to start is to try to have fun with the people you are working with. Celebrate Your Team (Celebrate Your Team) by doing activities together, switch tasks often and try to get the tasks that you enjoy. If you see one of your team members is struggling with motivation, ask the person what she would like to do and try to motivate her when you can. Another possibility to make things more interesting is to switch the working location. A new working environment can make a big difference.

There are times when the working pressure is very high, the best solution for these situations is to make sure to Spread Tasks Appropriately (Spread Tasks Appropriately), so the person won’t be overwhelmed by the many different things he has to do (as in Eliminate Bottlenecks (Eliminate Bottlenecks)). Also, try to motivate and help each other out when possible.

Another possible approach to get your team or a single team member motivated again is switching tasks and roles. If the students are often exchanging the parts they are working on and the roles they are having in the team, this results in an increased intrinsic motivation as they would be spending less time working on uninteresting parts.

Take breaks often and remember why you are doing the assignment; make sure to remember you have some clear goals that are worth working for.

Once one finds out he is losing motivation, he has to explain this to the rest of the team as soon as possible so they can think along how to prevent further motivation loss and altogether start working to stimulate each others motivation. Also, set some short term goals that you can complete without too many problems. Completing tasks is much more motivating than having one big thing dragging on for too long.

Keep everything as fun as possible, but also try to regain focus; reward yourself for finished work by doing something fun and encourage your team members whenever you can.


A group of students had to work on an assignment. As they progressed with this, some of the group members were a bit disappointed in the course. They had high expectations to learn a lot, but in the end things turned out to be different. They were managing fine, until at one point there were a lot of different tasks that had to be done at the same time. As the working pressure rose, the lack of motivation started to show. At group meetings they had problems to focus and they all wished the course was over. They decided something had to change fast or otherwise things would go wrong. The group leader came with the idea to do a small survey to see how motivated the others were. He asked them to grade their own motivation and if they graded their own motivation low, they would have to explain why it was low.

After that, they went to discuss the reasons behind their low motivation. They came to the conclusion that the assigned tasks needed to be switched more often and that the fun in working on those needed to improve. They started by doing activities together and help each other out whenever they could. And as a change, they decided to work on their assignments at one of the team member’s places. Working in a different environment already improved the atmosphere a lot. There they split up the tasks in a way so all had the parts they found interesting. The team continued with this approach and finished the assignment with a good grade.


  1. Patlet first mentioned in Köppe, C. (2012). Learning patterns for group assignments: part 1. In Proceedings of the 19th Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (PLoP 2012). The Hillside Group.
  2. Pattern published in de Cortie, T., van Broeckhuijsen, R., Bosma, G., & Köppe, C. (2013). Learning patterns for group assignments: part 2. In Proceedings of the 20th Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (PLoP 2013). The Hillside Group.