Motivation is Not Just for Cheerleaders: ARCS Model

When designing instruction, it’s important to determine the best way to motivate learners because it will have an everlasting effect on the learning outcomes and the learners’ experience.

The ARCS Model of Motivational Design was developed by John Keller. It contains four steps of promoting motivation in learning and presumes that people are motivated to learn when they see the value in the instruction. Motivation also occurs in learning when there is realistic expectation for success.

The ARCS Model consists of four parts: Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction.


The first two parts of the model, Attention and Relevance, are important because Confidence and Satisfaction build upon them.

Attention– Attention is the interest learners’ display of the instructional concepts. Grabbing the attention of learners is the most important part of the model because it INITIATES the motivation. Once learners are interested in a topic, they are willing to spend their time, pay attention, and find out more. Ways an instructor can gain the attention of the learner include:

1. Perceptual Arousal (using surprise or uncertain situations)
2. Inquiry Arousal (offering challenging questions and problems to solve that stimulate curiosity)
3. Variability (using a variety of resources and methods of teaching to meet learners’ varying needs)

Relevance– Relevance must be established by using examples that the learners are familiar with. The goal of the Relevance component is to make the lesson plan or instructional materials as relevant to the learner as possible. If relevance is not conveyed, learners will lose attention.

1. Goal Oriented (present objectives and purpose and specific methods for successful achievement)
2. Motive Matching (match objectives to learner needs)
3. Familiarity (present content in understandable ways that relate to learners’ experiences)

Confidence– Confidence focuses on establishing positive expectations for achieving success. The confidence level of learners is often correlated with motivation and effort in reaching a performance objective. Therefore, instructional design should provide students with a method for estimating their success.

1. Learning Requirements (inform students about learning requirements and assessment criteria)
2. Successful Opportunities (provide meaningful opportunities for successful learning)
3. Personal Responsibility (link learning success to learners’ personal effort and ability)

Satisfaction– Learners must obtain some type of satisfaction from a learning experience. This satisfaction can be from a variety of things such as sense of achievement and praise from a higher-up. This component is where feedback and reinforcement are utilized and learners use their results to be further motivated to learn. Instruction should be designed to allow learners to use their newly learned skill in an authentic setting.

1. Intrinsic Reinforcement (encourage and support intrinsic enjoyment of the learning experience)
2. Extrinsic Rewards (provide positive reinforcement and motivational feedback)
3. Equity (maintain consistent standards for success)

As an instructional designer, it’s important to understand what motivates learners and how those motivations can be used to encourage the achievement of the learning objectives.

Keller’s ARCS Model is one way that can guide the development of motivational instruction. Remember, today’s learners aren’t just interested in being lectured at, but want value from the instruction and in having the value, will be motivated to contribute.


About Julie Tausend Burba

Instructional Designer at Hulu, Ed Tech and Project Management enthusiast. MBA Technology Management, MS Management, BS Communications, Traveler and Cook.

Posted on August 1, 2013, in Instructional Design, Tausend Talks Shop, Teaching Tools and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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