Design-Based Research in MOOCs: Motivational Interventions Based on the ARCS model

Jacqueline Wong

A motivated learner is more likely to be a successful learner. Therefore, enhancing motivation is one of the ways to enhance learning. Li and Moore (2018) conducted a design-based study to examine effective motivational interventions in two MOOCs using the Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction (ARCS) model. A number of potential strategies were selected for the MOOCs based on the ARCS model. For instance, provide past students’ statements on the relevance of the course for them on the course introduction page would enhance relevance and confidence. Use supportive tones in the emails to praise students’ work and encourage them to keep trying would support attention, confidence, and satisfaction.

The findings revealed that the learners selectively paid attention to components of the MOOCs, whereby they browsed course emails and pages without noticing design features such as past students’ statements. However, learners appreciated the clean design that helped them to easily look for information. Therefore, it is important for course designers to keep course pages clean and avoid irrelevant and unnecessary information on the course pages. The findings also revealed that learners’ relevance is self-determined, possibly due to learners’ varied goals. The authors suggested that course materials should balance between being clear and concise and keeping relevance varied for different learners. The findings also showed that learners believed that they could achieve their goals and were rather high in confidence. One suggestion is to include course activities with suitable level of difficulty and with multiple chances to complete the assignments in order to enhance learner’s self-efficacy. In addition, the results suggested that learners’ satisfaction was attributed to different sources (e.g., knowledge learned, capabilities to learn and complete the course, and statement of accomplishment). Therefore, if MOOCs were to remove statement of accomplishment, other alternatives similar to statement of accomplishment, such as reward badges, can be used to maintain the source of satisfaction. 

All in all, the authors have suggested some potential strategies that can be implemented in MOOCs to enhance motivation. However, there are so many different motivational components within one MOOC and the design of MOOCs can be very different from one another. Therefore, studies are still needed to examine the effects of different motivational components using different versions of the same MOOC as well as the effect of a particular motivational component across different MOOCs.

Li, K., & Moore, D. R. (2018). Motivating Students in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) Using the Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction (ARCS) Model. Journal of Formative Design in Learning, 1-12.

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