Friday, April 2, 2010

Keller's ARCS Model

As I mentioned in a previous post, motivation is an important part in the learning process. Learners can be motivated by something a trainer randomly does, but relying on this is not even a calculated risk. Asking a trainer to take sole responsibility for learner motivation means that you are relying 100% on their ability to: identify the need for motivation, devise a motivational strategy, and execute the strategy. All this of course is happening at the same time the trainer is presenting content. Another approach is to think about motivation during course design. To do this, it would be helpful to obtain some form of learner analysis. To help us build motivational strategies into learning design, John Keller developed the ARCS Model of Motivation. ARCS stands for:

o  Attention – Gain and keep the learners attention
Relevancy – Make the material relevant to the learner
Confidence – Find ways to make the learner confident that they are “getting it”
Satisfaction – Make sure the training is satisfying and rewarding to the learner

Keller (1987) suggests using a systematic process for applying his model to instructional design:

  1. Classify the motivational problem.
  2. Conduct audience analysis.
  3. Prepare motivational objectives.
  4. Generate potential motivational strategies.
  5. Select motivational strategies.
  6. Develop motivational elements.
  7. Integrate motivational strategies into instruction.
  8. Conduct developmental try-out.
  9. Assess motivational outcomes.

These are examples of questions you should ask during Step 6: Develop motivational elements:

Categories Strategies
Process Questions

·  Sensory Stimuli
·  Inquiry Arousal
·  Variability

·  How will you gain the learners’ interest?
·  How will you arouse curiosity in the learners’?
·  Once you have their interest, how will you maintain it?

·    Tell an interesting story. Show a finished example.
·    Pose Questions or problems.
·    Humor, multi-media, and games.

·  Goal Orientation

·  Motive Matching

·  Familiarity

·     How will you meet the learners’ needs?

·     How will you ensure that the learners’ are learning what they want?

·     How will you related new information to prior knowledge and experiences?

·     Design obvious achievements into the learning event.
·     Allow learners’ to pursue their own learning path. Make sure they know what’s in it for them (Wii-FM).
·     Explain how learners’ will use existing skills. Ask them to share their own experiences.

·  Learning Requirements

·  Success Opportunities

·  Personal Control

·     How will you make learners’ feel like they can learn the material?

·     How will you provide learners’ with opportunities to build their confidence?

·     How will learners’ know that their success depends on their efforts, rather than luck?

·     Help students’ project success by providing performance requirements and evaluation criteria. Provide feedback on their success.
·     Scaffold the learning design. Make sure each task is just within their limits. Then grow the learners.
·     Give learners’ a degree of control over their learning and assessment.

·  Natural Consequences

·  Positive Consequences
·  Equity

·     How will you provide learners with meaningful opportunities to use the content?

·     How will you reinforce learners’ success?
·     How will you help learners’ feel good about their success?

·     Provide opportunities to practice in realistic situations (conforms to Thorndike’s Theory of Identical Elements).
·     Provide Feedback and Reinforcement.
·     Provide opportunities to display their work. Develop a certification.

As I’ve mentioned before, Keller’s ARCS model can be used with Gagne’s 9 events of instruction. During each of Gagne’s events, ask yourself how you will design motivation for learners.


Keller, J. (1987) Development and use of the ARCS model of instructional design. Journal of Instructional development, 10(3), 2-20.