Motivation is a critical factor in the success of learning. When motivation weakens, learning ceases (Gee, 2003). Planning activities that emphasize students’ motivation are able to offer ways to bridge their lack of interest, increase their involvement and ultimately foster learning in the subject area. How can the ARCS motivation model help instructional designers create more fun and engaging learning activities for the learners? 


1. What is it?

2. Attention

3. Relevance

4. Confidence

5. Satisfaction

The ARCmotivation model

Keller’s ARCS motivational model is an approach to solving learning-related problems that are inherent in the poor motivation of learners. This model is especially useful for designers of e-learning programs so that they can develop exciting activities that will boost the educational process.

According to Keller (1979), the father of the ARCS model learners’ motivation can be broken into four elements: Attention, Relevance, Confidence and Satisfaction. These elements when applied by the instructors may encourage the motivation of their students. It is noteworthy that Keller developed the model in response to previous behavioral and cognitive learning approaches that focused too much on external stimuli, not paying enough attention to students’ motivations (Keller & Kopp, 1987).



Learners’ attention can be gained in three ways.

Perception arousal (perception arousal)

In the case of perceptual stimulation, students’ attention will be gained by surprise, doubt, or distrust. Such ways are promoted through:

Examples. The examples given to the students have to be related to the real world and not alienated from it. Therefore those examples need to be specific and given in various ways, such as videos, biographies, stories or images.

Humor. It is useful to have humorous reports that will maintain the interest and give a fun note to the activity / lesson.

Incongruity and conflict. Explanations and claims that go against students’ past experiences should be given, thus allowing the learner to see a completely different perspective in order to have a holistic understanding of the subject.

Inquiry arousal (research stimulation)

To stimulate research, learners’ curiosity is at the forefront and it is possible to stimulate it through:

Active participation. Providing activities such as role playing to trainees for the purpose of engaging in the subject.

Investigation. Presenting questions to the learners that will force them to conduct search and investigate. This way their critical thinking shall be enhanced.


Instructors should use multiple methods and approaches such as videos, discussion groups, lectures as well as opportunities for collaborative learning in order to maintain interest in different types of learners.



Particular attention should be paid to the fact that students need to come into contact with language and that is familiar to them.

Goal orientation

Perceived utility. Teachers have to explain to their students why the new knowledge has the potential to help them immediately.

Future perceived utility. Teachers have to explain how the content will help their students in the future.

Needs Matching

Needs matching. Assess learners to get better understanding of the reason they seek the new knowledge. It is a fact that every person chooses to learn something new by having a purpose subconsciously or consciously through the establishment of this knowledge.

Choice. Allowing students the opportunity to choose for themselves the method they consider best in relation to achieving their learning goal.

This is particularly beneficial to adult learners because adults know exactly what they want to learn and how. They have preferences for specific learning methods or tools that they perceive most effective for them.


Connection with leading experiences. This is important in order to give students a sense of continuity with their previous experiences. This way they will associate the new knowledge with what they already know from the past.

Role Models. Teachers have to present role models, either objects or behaviors that may become optimal guidelines for the learners, for example guest speakers.



If students feel that they are not able to achieve the goals, then this will lead to reduced interest in the lesson. Therefore, it is necessary to instill in them a sense of optimism regarding their future success in the course.

Learning requirements

Course goals and requirements need to be shared with to the students. Students have to know in advance what effort they need to put and what they need to successfully complete in the learning program.

Success opportunities

The personal improvement of the students involved in the program should be fostered, which is made possible through the use of what is being taught.

Provide Feedback (Provide Feedback)

Students should receive feedback according to their deficiencies or progress. Therefore they will realize their status, giving them a kind of self-control while enhancing their metacognitive level in this area.

Personal Control (providing feedback)

It is useful to provide learners with some degree of control over the learning process. This creates a sense of independence within them and at the same time controls their eventual success, associating that success with the effort they have made. In other words, it makes them believe that they are responsible for their own learning.



A successful learning program needs students who feel satisfied and proud of what they are doing within it (Pappas, 2015). This satisfaction comes through:

Intrinsic motivation

Strengthening internal motivation so that students are entertained and continue their learning without expecting some kind of external reward. Moreover, if their internal satisfaction is enhanced, students may realize that the time they spend on the lesson is essential, thereby fostering their will to return to the learning program.

Extrinsic motivation

The instructors should provide positive feedback, awards or praise to the students, which will create a sense of accomplishment. A typical example of boosting incentives, either internal or external, is gamification. You can read more about gamification in the learning process here.


A program must be equitable in relation to the requirements for the success of learning objectives, small or large. Consistency is required regardless the activity. Before evaluating students, the rubrics related to their assessment must be disclosed.


Students should feel that the skills or knowledge they have acquired will be useful to them in the future. This can be achieved by encouraging learners to apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills in a real environment or by engaging them in real problem solving activities.



Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy? New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Keller, J.M. (1979). Motivation and instructional design: A theoretical perspective. Journal of Instructional Development, 2(24), 26–34.

Keller, J.M., & Kopp, T.W. (1987). An application of the ARCS model of motivational design. In C.M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional theories in action: Lessons illustrating selected theories and models (pp. 289–320). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbraum Associates.

Pappas, C. (2015) Instructional Design Models And Theories: Keller’s ARCS Model Of Motivation. Retrieved September, 5, 2019 from