By: Xiaoxiao Feng


            John M. Keller’s ARCS model of motivational design represents “Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction” (Driscoll, 2005, p. 333).  The ARCS model of motivational design is “an integrated model for understanding motivation and for systematically incorporating motivational concerns into instruction” (Driscoll, 2005, p. 332). John M. Keller combined the various related information to motivation and assumed that learners’ attention and efforts to learning tasks were influenced by their motivations (Driscoll, 2005).

Strategies for Stimulating Motivation

            John M. Keller also recommended the strategies for stimulating motivation in each category (Driscoll, 2005) and the category was as follows:

  1. Gaining and sustaining attention. Keller recommended that teachers could gain students’ attention through stimulating their curiosities with problems. The teachers also could use novel or interesting instruction to gain students’ attention. Moreover, the instructors also should know how to maintain students’ attention. For example, the teachers can maintain students’ attention by various instructional presentations.
  2. Enhancing relevance. The relevance could be viewed as instrument that could facilitate students to accomplish their personal goals. John Keller also identified “familiarity” as one component of relevance. The teachers could deliver learning contents in terms of students’ previous experiences.
  3. Building confidence. According to the importance of self-efficacy, it is vital for students to build confidence to be engaged in learning. John Keller illustrated three strategies to build confidence in learning: “(1) Create a positive expectation for success by making clear instructional goals and objectives. Alternatively, allow learners to set their own goals; (2) provide opportunities for students to successfully attain challenging goals; (3) provide learners with a reasonable degree of control over their own learning” (p. 339).
  4. Generating satisfaction. John Keller also illustrated three strategies to generate satisfaction: “(1) Create natural consequences by providing learners with opportunities to use newly acquired skills; (2) In the absence of natural consequences, use positive consequences, such as verbal praise, real or symbolic awards” (Driscoll, p.339).

The Steps of Motivational Design

            How to resolve the problem of motivation is a concern for most of professionals in motivational design. John Keller identified four steps of motivational design (Driscoll, 2011):

  1. Analyze the audience. The first step of motivational design is to do audience analysis. The audience profile is recommended by John Keller to facilitate to identify the gaps in motivation. In this step, it is required to rate the audience attitude in terms of the categories of the ARCS model.
  2. Define motivational objectives. From the audience analysis, the motivational needs have been identified. Then, the motivational objectives could be set.
  3. Design a motivational strategy. In this step, it is required to integrate effective motivational strategies into instruction. The ARCS model provided the detailed motivational strategies. While designing the motivational strategies, the designer should consider the audience characteristics and the motivational objectives.
  4. Try out and revise as necessary. In this stage, the instructional designers should try out the designed motivational strategies in the instruction. They could do the pilot study to try out these strategies before the implementation. If the designed instructional strategies could not produce the expected results, the instructional designers should reconsider about the previous steps.


            The ARCS model of motivational design points out the four categories to stimulate learners’ motivation and these four categories ensure the contiguity of learning motivation (Balavan-Sali, 2008). In the natural implementation, the instructor or instructional designers combine their personal knowledge and experiences with this motivational design model to improve the instruction. The ARCS model of motivational design is a powerful tool to promote learners’ motivation (Driscoll, 2005).



Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Psychology of Learning for Instruction. Boston, MA: Pearson       Education.

Balavan-Sali, J. (2008). Design motivational learning systems in distance education.           Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education – TOJDE, 9 (3), 149 – 161.