Understanding Instructional Design

ARCS Model of Motivational Design by John Keller (Week 2)

on January 11, 2012

ARCS Model of Motivational Design by John Keller

This process would allow you to know and identify the element of human motivation. Analyze their characteristics to determine motivational requirements, select the appropriate motivational tactics. Then applying and evaluating the appropriate tactics.

The ARCS model is a problem solving approach to designing the motivational aspects of learning environments to stimulate and sustain students’ motivation to learn. It provides a good summary of issues to be considered when designing learning materials.

ARCS Categories

There are 4 steps to sustaining and promoting motivation in learning process:





  • Perceptual Arousal
  • Inquiry arousal
  • Variability
  • Goal orientation
  • Motive matching
  • Familiarity
  • Learning requirements
  • Success opportunities
  • Personal control
  • Natural Consequences
  • Positive Consequences
  • Equity

The above table contained descriptions of the theoretical foundation for each of the categories that list the “process questions” for each subcategory.

Applying the ARCS model in Instructional Design

1. Attention: It is essential to grab the learner’s attention.

a. Perceptual arousal: Uses surprise of uncertainly to gain interest. [ The use of sensory stimuli (include uses of sound, animation and video)

b. Inquiry arousal: Stimulates curiosity by posing challenging questions or problems to be solved (giving difficult sums so they will keep trying)

c.Variability: Use of variety (lecture with visuals, group activity, or game) for a change of pace.

*Some ways to grab their attention: Role-play involve with material or subject, having a variety of methods to present material, using visual stimuli or sensory stimuli, and giving questions or problems for learners to solve.

2. Relevance: Establish relevance in order to increase a learner’s motivation. To do so, it is important to use concrete language and examples which are familiar to the learners.

a. Goal orientation:  The outcome of learning such as obtaining a job, reward, etc. or may imply the means of learning.

b.  Motive watching:  Involves learner’s choices about strategies of learning, such as by group interaction, competition, or individual work.

c. Familiarity: Connect to what one already believes and understands such as realistic graphics, people’s names, personal learning experiences.

*Some of the ways to do so is by explaining purpose of content, present goals for learner to select, ask learner to select own goals. Such as letting users have a choice in deciding the content, select the things they would like to see.

3. Confidence: Helping the learners to estimate their own performance, so that they can evaluate and improve on it. Learners should also believe that their success is a direct result of the amount of effort they have put forth. Therefore they will study harder and have more confidence in the subject.

a. Learning Requirements: Provide in the form of clear objectives.

b. Success Opportunities: Provide success opportunities early and often enough to establish the learner’s belief in his or her ability to achieve.

c. Personal Control: Provide personal control over the learning with choices of content, objectives and activities. This relates success to one’s choices and effort.

4. Satisfaction: Making learning rewarding for the learners as well as making it satisfying for them. We could also provide the learners with opportunities to use the acquired knowledge in real life setting, so the learner would feel that it is useful or beneficial. It is good to get feedback and reinforcement. So when they appreciate the  results, they will be motivated to learn, and satisfaction is based upon motivation(intrinsic or extrinsic).

a. Natural Consequences: Increase the use of the content, simulations, projects, real-life activity.

b. Positive Consequences: Intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.

c. Equity: Assure equity of rewards so that they match achievements.

ARCS Design Process

The ARCS motivational design process is a organized problem solving method which needs knowledge of human motivation as well as progresses from learner analysis to solution design. These process include:

  • Knowing and Identifying elements of human motivation
  • Examining audience characteristics to decide motivational requirements
  • Identifying characteristics of instructional materials and processes to stimulate motivation
  • Selecting suitable motivational tactics
  • Applying and Evaluating suitable tactics

It can be tough to do all these as there are numerous elements in a course which can affect motivation. For instance, materials that you use, how a teacher portray him or herself, structure of lessons that calls for different types of actions in the beginning, middle and end as well as the overall of the course. However the above 4 categories of the ARCS Model provide assistance in each of these areas. Each category contain subcategories that are supported by specific psychological concept.





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