Applying Motivational Design Principles to Create Engaging Online Modules

Publication Date

Spring 3-2016

Document Type



In a classroom setting, levels of student engagement vary widely, but instructors can adjust the lesson based on the perceived level of student engagement. However, in an online environment, instructors cannot spontaneously prompt students to motivate their engagement. When developing asynchronous modules, using a motivational design model and appropriate technologies allows one to replicate a dynamic, active learning classroom environment. When applying Keller's ARCS model approach to motivational design, the goal is to engage students and keep their attention. For instance students may watch short videos based on real conversations, which are followed by practice activities. Then students might be prompted to answer a question and receive immediate, formative feedback before they move on to the next video. The repetition of consuming information followed by practicing and interacting requires consistent attention, and initial student comments/feedback indicate that the tutorials keep their attention. Motivational design strategies improve asynchronous instruction when one can provide engaging content, guided practice, and immediate, formative feedback. Examples of other assignments that would benefit from the motivational design approach include STEM topics and exercises that link to interactive simulations (ex.https://phet.colorado.edu/), business or ethical case studies, and media arts and design students practicing photo editing.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License