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Motivation in WBL Environments: a ‘winning’ approach. Greg Warman EDUC391X Professor Paul Kim. Why is motivation critical?. There is a crisis in WBL Dropout rates can be as high as 70% to 80% (Martinez 2003) Resultant negative impressions of WBL and its potential

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Motivation in wbl environments a winning approach

Motivationin WBL Environments:a ‘winning’ approach

Greg Warman


Professor Paul Kim

Why is motivation critical
Why is motivation critical?

  • There is a crisis in WBL

    • Dropout rates can be as high as 70% to 80% (Martinez 2003)

    • Resultant negative impressions of WBL and its potential

  • Keeping learners engaged is critical

    • Motivation most important characteristic related to achievement in WBL (Sankaran and Bui 2001)

    • Understanding motivation (what underlies a learner’s willingness to participate in learning) will help with the creation of corrective solutions


General survey of definitions indicate:

Motivation = ƒ {

Incentives / Disincentives,

Individual Goals & Objectives }

Views of motivation
Views of Motivation

  • EmpiricalView (e.g. Skinner)

    • Extrinsic (incentives / disincentives)

    • Rewards & punishments affect an individual’s tendency to respond in the way necessary for learning to occur

  • Cognitive View (e.g. Piaget)

    • Intrinsic (goals & objectives)

    • Individual interest in a domain of cognitive activity drive learning


  • Effectiveness of incentives nonetheless derives from individual goals & objectives

    • Biological in nature: goals reflect what is necessary for surviving and thriving

  • Performance approach - desire to outdo others and avoid appearance of inferiority


  • Learning motivation is a result of need to reconcile differences in our understanding of the world.

  • Mastery approach - desire to learn and understand and avoid misunderstanding

Academic thunderdome
Academic Thunderdome

two theories enter, one theory leaves

Academic thunderdome1
Academic Thunderdome

  • Cognitive view (e.g. Lemper et al.)

    • Research demonstrates that if people are rewarded for things they would choose to do for intrinsic reasons, they will no longer be willing to do them without the rewards

  • Empiricist view (e.g. Cameron et al.)

    • Meta analysis of research shows that with very few exceptions extrinsic motivators do not interfere with intrinsic motivation

Reconciliation avatars
Reconciliation = Avatars

real me

virtual me

real world

virtual world

Reconciliation avatars1
Reconciliation = Avatars

  • Your representative in a virtual world

  • Games: World of Warcraft, Never Winter KnightsVirtual Worlds: Second Life

  • Market size: e.g. Everquest by SONY

  • Can Leverage both Extrinsic and Intrinsic motivators to maximize learning

What defines a virtual world
What defines a Virtual World

Overarching Goal

Incentives for reaching goal

Storyline & Challenges

Development dimensions

Means of development & tools to surmount challenges

Proposed approach
Proposed Approach


virtual me

one world where virtual me becomes proxy for my real learning

Proposed approach1
Proposed Approach

Overarching module










Topic-focused learning modules

By reflecting my real world motivation
By reflecting my real world motivation



Storyline & Challenges



real me

real world

Example educ391x individual projects
Example: EDUC391XIndividual Projects

Enteran active business environmentwith your virtual character…

Select your character


Greg Warman




Example educ391x individual projects1
Example: EDUC391XIndividual Projects

  • Overarching Goal: beat your competitors and win WBL contracts

  • Incentives:

    • Explicit:

      • Contracts provide $$$ = your score

    • Implicit:

      • Bragging rights and avoid humiliation (Performance)

      • Satisfaction of building your character (Mastery)


Example educ391x individual projects2
Example: EDUC391XIndividual Projects


You’re fresh out of undergrad and want to explore a career in WBT. You need to build a knowledge base quickly of WBL design that evidences your worth to buyers.


  • Multiple contracts but multiple competitors

  • ‘Winning’ is a two step process

    • Need to qualify and respond to an RFP (requires base level of knowledge)

    • Need to succeed in the job interview (requires displaying that knowledge)

Example educ391x individual projects3
Example: EDUC391XIndividual Projects

Step 1: Qualify and respond to RFP’s


Project:Build an e-learning course to ensure bridge staff meet safety requirements.Value: $10,000

Requirements:Design Theory = +2Inst. Design = +2Tech Know = +1


STATUS:Lost :-(



Example educ391x individual projects4
Example: EDUC391XIndividual Projects

Step 2: Succeed in Job Interview

How would you go about designing our e-learning course?Select the appropriate responses below:Given it is regarding safety protocol, it is A knowledge we need to build. Therefore we start with B and then move on to C .


= $10,000

A. Cognitive, Psychomotor, AffectiveB. Receiving, Knowledge, PerceptionC. Set, Application, Valuing


Example educ391x individual projects5
Example: EDUC391XIndividual Projects

Development Dimensions:

Design Theory: +3

Instructional Design: +5

Tech Knowledge: +2

Contracts won to date: 0Cash Available: $5,500


Example educ391x individual projects6
Example: EDUC391XIndividual Projects

  • Means for Development:

    • Learning modules on individual 391X topics

      • Must pay to enter these learning modules

      • Must pass whatever assessment exists in the learning module to earn development credits

    • Form networks with others to bid on contracts

      • Leverage each other’s knowledge

      • Learn from one another

Avatars motivation
Avatars & Motivation

  • Empirical: (Extrinsic Motivators)

    • Surmount game challenge

    • Beat your competitors (performance)

  • Cognitive: (Intrinsic Motivators)

    • Proxy for personal development where intangible gains become tangible. Moreover these gains arrive quickly!

    • Enjoy character building (mastery)

Avatars thunderdome
Avatars & Thunderdome

  • Extrinsic rewards (the contract game component) can be removed and the Intrinsic rewards (the character development component) will still ensure motivation.

    Therefore, two theories enter, both leave as friends!