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Motivating Students in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) Using the Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction (ARCS) Model


Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) often have low persistence rates, which may be attributed to a learners’ lack of motivation. In this design-based research study, Keller’s Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction (ARCS) motivational design model was integrated into two MOOCs as an initial exploration of how to design effective motivational interventions in MOOC environment. The Instructional Motivation Materials Scale (IMMS) was used to measure learners’ perceptions and reactions to the course components, in terms of the ARCS model, in both MOOCs. The whole design, implementation, and evaluation process was documented and reflected upon to provide practical guidance on designing motivational-enhanced materials in MOOC environments. The results revealed patterns of learners selectively paying attention, drawing relevance for self-determined reasons, having high confidence, and deriving satisfaction from multiple sources.

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Correspondence to Kun Li.

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  1. 1.

    How many MOOCs are you currently taking? What do you think about them?

  2. 2.

    Why did you sign up for our course?

  3. 3.

    Are you still keeping learning the course?

  4. 4.

    What are your overall opinions on our course site design? What about content presentation and display?

  5. 5.

    What do you think about our course emails (if they answered yes to whether they read the emails)?

  6. 6.

    What do you think about our course pages (if they answered yes to whether they check the course pages)?

  7. 7.

    What are some of the connections you can draw from taking our course and other courses you are taking or your job?

  8. 8.

    While taking the course, do you believe you can learn what you want to learn (or perform as you expected based on their goals stated previously)?

  9. 9.

    What would you feel when you accomplished your goals in this course?

  10. 10.

    Do you want to learn more chemistry-related topics in the future?

  11. 11.

    Please make free comments about any topics we discussed today.

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Li, K., Moore, D.R. Motivating Students in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) Using the Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction (ARCS) Model. J Form Des Learn 2, 102–113 (2018).

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  • ARCS model
  • Design-based research
  • MOOCs
  • Motivation
  • Motivational design