Online instructional strategies that affect learner motivation
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Online Instructional Strategies that Affect Learner Motivation. Albert L. Ingram, Ph.D. Ruth Watson, Ph.D. Kent State University. Online Learning. Increasing agreement on the importance of active and interactive strategies for learning Student discussions Cooperative learning

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Online Instructional Strategies that Affect Learner Motivation

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Online Instructional Strategies that Affect Learner Motivation

Albert L. Ingram, Ph.D.

Ruth Watson, Ph.D.

Kent State University

Online Learning

  • Increasing agreement on the importance of active and interactive strategies for learning

    • Student discussions

    • Cooperative learning

    • Collaborative learning

What about Motivation?

  • What makes students want to continue to learn?

  • Special problems with online motivation

    • How does instructor know?

    • What can instructor do to affect motivation?

Do instructional strategies affect motivation?

  • Focus on strategies emphasizing interactions among students

  • Four strategies

    • Small group discussions

    • Role playing

    • Brainstorming

    • Interviewing

Small Group Discussions

  • Build on group experiences

  • Formulate ideas

  • Build relationships

  • Students take responsibility for own learning

Role Playing

  • Real world problems

  • Small groups

  • Perspective-taking

  • Online role playing reduces self-consciousness, anxiety


  • Creative problem-solving

  • Small groups

  • Idea generation

  • Suspension of criticism

  • Analysis comes later


  • Bring people together

  • Cultivate relationships

  • Independent activity for students

  • Learners must develop and ask questions

Learning Styles

  • Assumption that independent learners do best in online learning

  • Spread of online learning means that people with variety of styles will be in online courses

  • How do we teach styles other than independent?

  • How are different styles motivated?

Grasha’sSocial Learning Styles

  • Independent

  • Dependent

  • Competitive

  • Collaborative

  • Avoidant

  • Participant

Styles and Motivation

  • Competitive motivated by teacher-centered activity

  • Collaborative prefers working in small groups and may have difficulty working alone

  • Avoidant does not like teacher-student interaction

  • Participant enjoys discussing with others; may place the needs of others first

  • Dependent prefers teacher-centered instruction, do only what is required, and want clear instructions

  • Independent prefers to learn what is important to them

Measuring Motivation

  • Keller’s ARCS model

    • Attention

    • Relevance

    • Confidence

    • Satisfaction

  • Instructional Materials Motivation Survey (IMMS)


  • Participants

    • 6 instructors

    • N=64 students

  • Procedure

    • GRSLSS

    • Baseline IMMS

    • Participate in learning activity

    • IMMS


  • Interaction style X Strategy

  • Motivation is dependent variable

  • Interviewing (n=9), role play (n=25), brainstorming (n=31), small group (n=48)

Hypothesized Changes in Motivation Following Different Online Instructional Strategies


  • Self-test into Social Learning Style categories

    • four categories represented: Collaborative, Dependent, independent, Participant

  • Different instructors used different strategies

Baseline Motivation - Total and Subscales

Styles - Motivation Baseline

  • Collaborative -- lowest baseline confidence score

  • Participant learners -- highest total baseline motivation score and highest scores for attention, relevance, and satisfaction

  • Dependent learners -- lowest total baseline motivation scores and lowest scores for attention, relevance, and satisfaction

  • Independent learners -- highest baseline confidence score

Effects of Strategies on Motivation

Effects of Styles

Total (ARCS) Results

Discussion - Styles

  • Most online learners are not independent

  • Collaborative learners motivated by all strategies

  • Participant learners motivated by all except interviewing

Discussion - Styles

  • Dependent learners motivated by small group discussions and interviews, not by role playing and brainstorming

  • Independent learners motivated by brainstorming, demotivated by small group discussions, unchanged by interviewing

Discussion - Strategies

  • Interactive strategies increase motivation

  • Interviewing showed most increase

    • Followed by brainstorming and small group discussions

  • Role playing lowered motivation overall

  • Results varied according to ARCS subscales

Discussion - Interactions

  • Many of the hypothesized interactions between style and strategy were confirmed, but not all

  • There were clearly many such interactions, however.


  • Sample size: not enough individuals in all style categories

  • Teaching/learning strategies depended on implementation by independent teachers

  • Learners may test high in more than one category PLUS categories are not fixed

  • Activities may be compatible with different styles for different reasons


  • “Learner-centered” strategies and online learning are increasingly popular

  • Choosing good active learning strategies can lead to higher student motivation

  • Especially important for high-level goals and objectives

  • Explicit attention to motivation will help

  • Effects will vary for learning styles


  • Importance of studying motivation for learners of all social learning preferences

  • Majority of online learners may not be independent

  • Larger samples may find learners in all categories

  • More strategies can be studied


  • Multiple use of the GRSLSS instrument after each online instructional strategy

    • Which strategies help learners migrate from one category to another

    • Learning styles not fixed

    • We can improve online learning experience

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