Motivate Your Students to the Max! – Using ARCS Motivation

I was thinking about the ARCS model of motivation the other day and it reminded me of how important the concepts are for any course. Below are a few thoughts on the ARCS (attention, relevance, confidence, satisfaction) model and how to integrate it into course design for online or hybrid courses.  


The ARCS Motivational Model:

Get Your Students ATTENTION

When a student first logs into the course site or LMS (learning management system), is the banner engaging? Do you have an introductory video or prompt that will get them really excited about starting the course? Do they know who you are and why you’re passionate about this topic or course? As you develop new modules, is there an article, a clip, an interactive, or something that quickly pulls them into the topic? Think about the blockbuster movies, within the first 5 minutes they are trying to pull in their viewers to peak their interest and hold them captive. Is there anything you might do in your course to accomplish similar results?

Make What You’re Teaching RELEVANT:

It’s sometimes difficult to remove ourselves emotionally from the topics we teach. As good teachers we’re passionate about our areas of expertise. We live it and we love it! However, take a moment to consider this… Your student may not share that level of passion about the topic and the ONLY way you may infuse it in them is by making the content relevant to them. Does your course leverage surveys and polls? Are there discussion prompts that are thoughtfully calculated to encourage students to “prove” to eachother why the topic is relevant to them?  Are blogs used to help student’s journal and post on topics that are related to the course content while also being of interest to them? Are current events embedded in the lessons so students see that the course is relevant far beyond the next test or even semester?

Build their CONFIDENCE:

Consider the students that often sit silent in class, too embarrassed to respond to questions for fear of being wrong. When students no longer fear failure, they are empowered to try. Online learning allows unlimited opportunities of practice through auto-check review practices. Do you have self-check activities prior to graded assignments or assessments? Why not help them figure out what they need to review even before they submit their assignment. Does the feedback you offer build their confidence? If they are failing in a particular areas of the course,you may reflect on the lessons and assignments in that module. Which modules have the lowest grades for them? Can there be additional material, an alternative assignment, or a web conferencing study session for those problem areas?

I still remember a Geometry class that I loved! I’ve always struggled with Math but there was one class I remember where I really got it. It’s been over 15 years since then but I still remember how great it was to be confident I knew how to complete the assignments. Are objectives clearly listed to help students know where they are headed in your class? Are they encouraged to call you anytime (most of the time)? Do you create an environment through announcements, text alerts, or email that encourages them to call you when they are struggling? These ideas can help students increase both their confidence in learning the topic as well as inspires them to be confident that you are there to assist them as they need it.

Encourage their SATISFACTION:

What reward will your students have after completing a lesson, topic, or course? Have they achieved some level of satisfaction beyond the grade? What types of praise might they receive for doing well and how may it be delivered? Are there formative assessments that you referred to and used to help you adapt your teaching as needed? Do you respond to emails from students within 24 hours with encouraging feedback? Are there built in rewards for reinforcing positive behavior in the discussion boards, assignments, peer review work, or blogs? What might you do for your particular content area that will help students feel satisfied well after they complete a module?


What are some things you have done in your online or hybrid / blended courses that increase student motivation?


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