Model of Motivation: ARCS Instructional Design

One critical factor of e-learning success is the maintenance of optimal engagement of learners with the learning materials. The primary means by which you can meet this factor is by motivating learners to engage. Thus, it is not enough to create excellent e-learning. It is equally vital to consider motivation gaps by identifying the gaps in the potential learners. At the same time, you will need to strive to address those gaps with a learning design.

Thus, motivation designs help to bridge motivation gaps and increase engagement. It will also enable you to drive learning and behavior change. The Arc Model of Motivation is one of the greatest motivational design models you can adopt. With this model you will become a successful e-learning designer.

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About Arcs Model of Motivation

John Keller introduced the ARCS motivational model of instructional design in 1979. The ARCS Model of Motivational Design Theories by Keller states that there are four steps for promoting and sustaining motivation in the learning process. This concept’s flexibility makes it adaptable to the present-day learner. It is also suitable for use in the current world’s learning environments.

The ARCS Model

Keller’s Instructional Model of Motivation is also known as the ARCS Model. This model suggests the engagement of learners throughout the entire learning process results in the most effective learning. Also, it states the strategies that can be put in place to ensure this engagement from start to completion.

The ARCS is an acronym of the strategies used to ensure continued motivation. These strategies are Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction. Below is an explanation of the four components of motivation of the ARCS model.

  1. Attention: 

This suggests that instructors or eLearning designers can attract learners’ attention either by perceptual arousal or inquiry arousal. Perceptual arousal has to do with the use of surprise or uncertain events to gain learners’ interest. Inquiry arousal stimulates the learners’ curiosity to pose challenging questions or problems to be solved.

Some of the methods you use to gain learners’ attention are:

  1. Active participation- the use of various hands-on practices helps to encourage your learners to be active participants in the learning process. These practices include games, role plays and simulations. Their increased engagement in the learning process will increase interest in the eLearning content. With this feature, you can rest assured that the learners will complete the eLearning course.
  2. Variety- another way you can grab the learner’s attention as an instructional designer is through the use of various forms of media. You can use modalities like video, audio, discussion groups, short lectures, infographics, etc., for presenting content.
  3. Humour- another way you can maintain the learner’s interest is by using humorous cartoons and anecdotes in the e-learning course. But, it would be best if you used this strategy with caution.
  4. Incongruity and Conflict– this technique involves using the debate to interest the learners. In other words, it has to do with the presentation of statements or facts that seem contrary to what the learner knows or believes to be true.
    This strategy will heighten the learners’ interest because they will want to learn more about discourse.
  5. Real-world examples- a general belief that learners’ motivation increases if what they learn has a practical application in real life. The use of real-life stories or examples will thus inform learners of the practical use of the e-learning material in their daily lives.
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2. Relevance:


To motivate your learners and have a successful e-learning course design, you must make the learning experience personally relevant or meaningful. Thus, e-learning professionals need to use analogies, stories or language that learners are familiar with. To establish this strategy, you need to consider how the content relates to the learner’s motives, goals, and past experiences.

The following are the relevance strategies:

  1. Link to previous experience- show learners the connections between the new information and their past experiences. This knowledge will enable them to know that they are expanding their knowledge base. The sense of continuity they derive will help to keep them motivated.
  2. Perceived present worth- establishing the immediate usefulness of the content to learners will help increase their motivation.
  3. Perceived future usefulness- as an instructional designer, you should inform your learners how the e-learning course will benefit them in the future. It would help if you communicated this to them from the beginning to keep them motivated throughout the learning process.
  4. Modeling- you should inform learners how to apply the learning. Also, it would help if you allowed people who have successfully used the specific knowledge or skill to become their tutors. Having success models will help them rest assured of the usefulness of the e-learning course.
  5. Choice- another way to increase learners’ motivation is by giving them a choice on how they pursue and organize their work.

  1. Confidence: 

This strategy has to do with helping learners to understand their likelihood to succeed. As an instructional designer, you can incorporate the confidence-boosting instruction in your e-learning course in the following ways:

  1. Provide Objectives & Prerequisites- objectives enable students to know what is expected of them by the end of the learning. Prerequisites empower learners to self-check if they have the requirement. In all, these two parameters help them to estimate their likelihood of success. 
  2. Facilitate self-growth- a successful e-learning course should allow for small growth steps during the learning process. With this feature, students’ confidence and motivation will increase.
  3. Provide feedback- offering constructive feedback and support of internal attributions for success will increase learners’ confidence. The increase in confidence will thus lead to more motivation.
  4. Give learners control- you should give learners some degree of control over their learning and assessment. With this in place, they will feel responsible for their education. This attribute will enable them to make the right choices and put in the necessary effort that will allow them to succeed.

4. Satisfaction: 


This strategy establishes a direct link between satisfaction and level of motivation. Thus, learning should be rewarding and satisfying for the learner. 

Some of the ways you adopt this strategy in an instructional design are:

  1. Praise or rewards- the learning process must offer learners some compensation. This reward may be in the form of a sense of accomplishment or praise from the trainer.
  2. Immediate application- learners will also gain inner satisfaction when they are confident that their newly acquired knowledge and skills are applicable in real-world settings.


In summary, the outstanding motivational design model explained in this article will enable you to start creating excellent e-Learning courses. These courses will have great content. Also, the courses you begin to create after now will engage more learners and sustain learner engagement. Without a doubt, this knowledge will make you into a successful instructional designer

About The Author

Daren Nadav

Daren Nadav

Daren Nadav is the Co Founder of CourseForMe, which is a leading platform to find the best courses available online and delivers inspiring content related to eLearning. Daren holds a B.A in Economics and business management.

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