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Keller’s ARCS Model of Motivation

Clearly, attitudes can serve as motivating forces, and (to some extent) motivating learners is a matter of attempting to instill certain attitudes in them [1].

Keller's ARCS Model of Motivation [2] indicated four design considerations for creating motivating instruction. The designer must not only capture attention early in the lesson but maintain attention throughout the lesson. Relevance means showing learners that what they are learning will be important and useful to them.

A- Attention

R- Relevance

C- Competence

S- Satisfaction

Keller identified four practices that increase confidence:

(a) making expectations clear to the learner

(b) providing reasonable opportunities for the learner to be successful

(c) providing learners with a reasonable degree of control over their own learning

(d) helping learners to recognize that learning is a direct consequence of their own efforts and effective learning strategies.

Keller also identified several activities that increase satisfaction by enabling learners to apply what they have learned: (a) providing positive consequences following progress, (b) giving encouragement during times of difficulty, and (c) being fair. The designer can achieve fairness through lesson consistency, activities that align to the stated objectives, and intelligent and consistent evaluation of learner actions.

Keller'sK1 recommendations regarding building confidence are similar to Vygotsky's [3] concept of the zone of proximal development (ZPD)—the difference between the difficulty level of a problem that a [novice] can cope with independently and the level that can be accomplished with [expert] adult help. In the zone of proximal development, a novice and expert work together on problems that the novice alone could not work on successfully [1]. In turn, Vygotsky's theory of the zone of proximal development is closely aligned with the concept of instructional scaffolding. In instructional scaffolding a teacher provides students with selective help (such as asking questions, directing attention, or giving hints about possible strategies) to enable them to do things they could not do on their own. Then, as students become more competent, the teacher gradually withdraws the support.


[1] Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

[2] Keller, J. M. (1983). Motivational design of instruction. In C. M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional-design theories and models (pp. 383–434). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

[3] Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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