Themes in ARCS-Related Research

"Man was born to wonder."


The ARCS model has been incorporated in in research conducted in the USA and many, many other countries and in a vast number of contexts including all levels of formal education settings, many government agencies, private sector organizations, medical education, and nursing and midwifery settings. Many of these are reflected in the various reference lists on this website. However, in recent years there are a few themes that tie into contemporary research themes in learning and instruction. A few of them are listed below. Emphasis has been given to dissertations that can provide a more complete model and basis for additional research than can journal articles. ​

ChanMin Kim

Effects of motivation, volition, and belief change strategies on attitudes, study habits, and achievement in mathematics education

The importance of students’ motivation, volition, and beliefs has been recently emphasized in mathematics education. However, despite extensive research acknowledging students’ motivation, volition, and beliefs as critical factors for their attitudes, study habits, and achievement, there has yet to emerge a robust framework encompassing relevant theoretical foundations and empirical evidence. Moreover, much of the previous research has been conducted without an integrative view of the key constructs, and, as a consequence, tends to overlook the interconnectedness among the constructs. Given this gap, this study intended to build a conceptual framework for research on motivation, volition, and beliefs for the improvement of students’ attitudes, study habits, and achievement in mathematics education. The framework was grounded in a review of relevant theories and models as well as empirical studies. This exploratory experimental study focused on the cumulative effects of email messages designed in accordance with the framework, and, as a consequence, it provided an initial validation of the framework in the context of the design, development and evaluation of interventions in mathematics education. Specifically, this study investigated the effects of motivation and volition change strategies and belief change strategies as implemented with targeted email as personal and group messages on students’ attitudes, study habits, and achievement in a calculus course for non-mathematics majors.


Sanghoon Park

The effects of seductive augmentation and agent role on learning interest, achievement, and attitude

Learning interest plays an important role in the learning process, determining what to learn, and how to learn the chosen information. Based on the distinction between individual interest and situational interest, studies on situational interest suggest that a high level of interestingness will lead to a high degree of attention and will foster the readiness of learners to get involved in the learning process, thus will increase the probability of successful learning. The source of interestingness is found in seductive details or seductive augmentations. Studies on seductive augmentation, that incorporated the use of multimedia, have mainly focused on instances in which students interact with a traditional computer screen interface, not with humanlike agents. Several previous studies employed sound as a type of seductive augmentation, but verbal presentation of instructional messages from an agent have not been implemented yet. Consequently, the effects of seductive augmentation in an agent supported learning context where instructional messages are mediated by a pedagogical agent are largely unknown. As a result of this lack of seductive augmentation research in pedagogical agent supported learning, questions remain regarding how to design a pedagogical agent supported learning environment that uses seductive augmentation to promote learner’s interest and further, achievement. Therefore the purpose of this research was to investigate the effects of seductive augmentation and agent role on learning interest, achievement, and attitude in pedagogical agent supported learning. 

Richard Daniel Warren

The effect of adaptive confidence strategies in computer-assisted instruction on learning and learner confidence​

The purpose of this research was to investigate the effects of including adaptive confidence strategies in instructionally sound computer-assisted instruction (CAI) on learning and learner confidence.


Seventy-one general educational development (GED) learners recruited from various GED learning centers at community colleges in the southeast United States were randomly assigned to one of three levels of independent variable: Absence of Adaptive Confidence Strategies Condition (non-adaptive, or NA), Adaptive Confidence Strategies with Program Control Condition (PC), or Adaptive Confidence Strategies with Shared Control Condition (SC).


In the NA condition, learners received instructionally sound CAI that did not measure nor respond to changes in learner confidence during the learning process. In the other two conditions, learners received instructionally sound CAI that did measure and respond to changes in learner confidence by implementing various confidence building and confidence sustaining strategies during the learning process, but that differed in the amount of control allowed to learners.


Implementing the adaptive confidence strategies involved the CAI program collecting learner performance data (e.g., from practice items) and learner self-reported confidence data (from an embedded confidence analysis), interpreting the data using a confidence diagnosis-prescription rubric in order to diagnose the confidence state of the learner, and finally prescribing confidence strategies based on the diagnosis.

Seung-Yoon Oh

The effects of reusable motivational objects in designing reusable learning object-based instruction

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of reusable motivational objects (RMO) and a motivational design aid (MDA) on instructional designers’ performance and attitude. 

Thirty five upper‐level college students who were enrolled in a Mathematics education course were recruited and split into three groups based on their schedule availability. Each group was randomly assigned to one of three levels of independent variable: RMO with MDA condition, RMO Only condition, and Control condition. Participants performed a task of designing motivationally enhanced RLO‐based instruction with given motivational design supports depending on their treatment level. The participants in the RMOMDA condition used an RMO repository and MDA while those in the RMO condition used only RMO repository. The control condition did not use any motivational design support.

Two dependent variables include performance and attitude. Performance was efficiency score in motivational design obtained by the ratio of time spent on task to a product’s score. Participants’ products were graded by evaluators using a checklist. The second dependent variable of attitude was measured with the modified instructional material motivation survey administered online. In addition, two surveys that related to the RMO and MDA were conducted to measure participants’ reactions to them.

Tami Im

The effects of emotional support and cognitive motivational messages on math anxiety, self-efficacy, and math problem solving

Math problem solving has been regarded as one of the major weaknesses in U.S. students’ math performance for many years (Orabuchi, 1992). One of the main reasons that students do not perform well in math problem solving may be due to math anxiety. There has been increasing interest in math education areas on how to reduce math anxiety to enhance students’ math performance. However, there were few empirical studies which examined the effects of various interventions towards decreasing math anxiety. Given the lack of empirical studies on how to reduce students’ math anxiety and to increase math learning, this study examined the effects of emotional support and cognitive motivational messages on math anxiety, self-efficacy, and math problem solving. This study built upon the work done by Shen (2009) by modifying elements of his design and stimulus materials and by introducing a new independent variable: incremental ability beliefs. Thus, two independent variables – one for decreasing affective math anxiety (emotional support) and another for alleviating cognitive math anxiety (cognitive motivational messages) were used in this study. The pedagogical agents were used as a delivering method of a computer based module in this study, but not an independent variable of this study.

E Shen

The effects of agent emotional support and cognitive motivational messages on math anxiety, learning, and motivation

Mathematics plays an important role in everyday life. Math anxiety has been one of the major reasons that students do not like math mathematics. Many efforts have been done to alleviate learner’s math anxiety with respect to curriculum design, math assessment, classroom culture, and teacher attitudes. In this study, math anxiety from the GED (General Educational Development) population is addressed through emotional and motivational support provided by pedagogical agents. There are two reasons to this approach. One major reason is the inherent social nature of learning and research on learners’ emotion and motivation are gaining more and more interest. The other major reason is that the embodiment nature of pedagogical agents have been recognized by researchers and the pedagogical agents become one of the ideal candidates to improve learning and influence learners’ emotion and motivation in a computer-based learning environment.
In this study, emotional support and cognitive motivational messages were embedded in pedagogical agents to promote learning, alleviate math anxiety, and improve leaner motivation. 109 GED students affiliated with local community college participated in this study. This study used a 2 x 2 factorial design. The two independent variables were emotional support and cognitive motivational messages and each dependent variable contained two levels: presence versus absence. The dependent measure of study includes learning, math anxiety, and leaner motivation.

Janine Stockdale

Successful Breastfeeding Promotion: a motivational model of informational design applied and tested

National and International statistics (WHO 2001) demonstrates that it remains easier to  motivate women to initiate breastfeeding than sustain it. Evidence highlights two  motivational factors, women lack confidence and professional support (Avery et al. 1998,  Dodgson et al. 2003, Chezem et al. 2003). It was theorized that if midwives’ instruction was  confidence-building, women’s persistence would increase. The research aim was to develop  and test a motivational intervention using the ARCS Model of Motivational Instructional  Design (Keller 1987).  
Method: Four phases of the ARCS model reflected an Action Research design. Phase one analysed current instruction by applying Sansone and Harackiewicz (1991) goal  conceptualization as a structure for a participant observation study (n=130 women and 20  educators). A second observation study, re-applied the structure to breastfeeding websites  (n=30). Outcomes revealed instructional confidence and relevance deficits. Phase two assessed the motivational effects of the observed instruction. A theoretical  measurement tool was developed to analyze audience motivation. A convenience sample (n=  202) of post-natal women who were breastfeeding consented to complete the questionnaire.  Outcomes of Exploratory Factor Analysis confirmed the validity of confidence and relevance  deficits. 


I know that I need to add dates and other bibliographic information to this page. jmk