Using Design to Increase Learner Motivation

Concurrent Session 1
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

This presentation focuses on increasing student motivation via design, with a specific focus on the ARCS model of motivational design as it applies to the online learning space. Participants will leave with functional, practical takeaways that can be implemented into any course.


Colin Taper is an instructional designer at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. During this 19 years in education, he has worn many hats: secondary English instructor, soccer coach, technology facilitator, and discussion-based learning app developer.

Extended Abstract

Background: Research on motivation suggests that learner motivation is linked to the motivational quality of the instruction they receive (e.g. Cheg & Yeh, 2009; Keller, 1983; Small & Gluck, 1994).  In a study exploring the relationship of specific instructional factors to motivational outcomes, Small and Gluck (1994) found that instructors and/or instructional designers are influential in creating learning conditions that motivate learners and enable them to perform to the best of their abilities. Thus, in order to make instruction as motivating as possible for learners, it is important to identify and provide a comprehensive and systematic range of instructional strategies that enhances student motivation.

Session Outcomes: By the end of the session, learners will be able to:

  • Analyze motivational characteristics of students in a given course
  • Generate student and course-specific motivational strategies

Session Description: This session will focus on the functional use of Keller’s ARCS (Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction) Model for motivational design, with a specific focus on the audience analysis component, in order to identify and then address learner motivational issues as they exist in an online course. First, the session will provide a brief overview of Keller’s ARCS Model. Next, using the audience analysis worksheet designed by Keller, participants will be guided by the facilitator through the audience analysis process, focusing on a course for which they are either the designer or the instructor. Following this, participants will encounter general strategies that address each of the four areas addressed in the ARCS Model. For example, if relevance is determined to be an issue for learner, Keller (2010) suggests providing learners with exercises and assignments that provide opportunities for learners to compete against each other, themselves, or against a standard. Next, participants will be exposed to specific examples of strategies as they exist within an online course. Finally, participants will determine which instructional strategies are the best fit for their course.

Participant engagement: Participants will begin the session with a brief online poll that will capture their perspective on learner motivation and factors that influence it. After analyzing learners in a course for which they are either the designer or the instructor, learners will share their results in small groups. Finally, learners will share the strategies that they deemed appropriate for their course.

Cheng, Y.C. & Yeh, H.T. (2009). From concepts of motivation to its application in instructional design: Reconsidering motivation from an instructional design perspective. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40: 597–605.

Keller, J.M. (1983). Motivational design in instruction. In C.M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional design theories and models: An overview of their current status. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Keller, J. M. (2010). Motivational design for learning and performance: The ARCS model approach. Springer Science & Business Media.

Small, R. V. & Gluck, M. (1994). The relationship of motivational conditions to effective instructional attributes: A magnitude scaling approach. Educational Technology. 34 (8), 33-40.