Monday, May 23, 2011

Motivation & SDEL

Self-directed e-learning (SDEL), used in reference to courses utilizing the Internet that typically lacks instructor and peer involvement. Kim and Frick's review of the literature provided beneficial information regarding the three main categories of motivation. The categories of motivation addressed were: internal, external, and personal. Internal factors followed Keller's ARCS model in regards to attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction. Additionally, Clark and Mayer (2003) was noted for their three categories regarding computer-mediated settings (sequencing, pacing, and the availability of learner support). The external factors of motivation revolved around isolation versus community. Using peers as a means for creating a learning community as well as creating a generally appealing environment for students to learn in, were deemed important factors. The section concerning personal factors was conflicted on if an individual learning style has an impact on motivation. Overall, the main components that resulted in successfully promoting motivation circulated around the ability of the learner to pace their own learning while still involving a peer and instructor component.

The study presented by Kim and Frick (2011) focused on SDEL courses, previously defined. Three research questions were proposed. The first question focused on a means of predicting an individuals motivation throughout the duration of an SDEL course. The second question addressed if an increase or decrease of motivation occurs in SDEL courses. The third question focused on what specific factors were involved in motivational changes. The study had a total of 368 respondents to the survey, which was distributed through listservs and by other methods. The survey was comprised of 60 questions, the majority being multiple choice and one final open-ended question.

Kim and Frick (2011) concluded that individuals choose SDEL courses when face-to-face instruction is either inconvenient or impossible. The study also revealed that age contributed to overall motivation in that adult learners were more motivated.

The literature review did not generate surprising information. It seemed to go without stating that those who choose SDEL courses do so because of time constraints or convenience. The surprising finding seemed rooted in the information regarding community building and instructor interactions. Since most of my online experience has been through IU, these things seemed a given. However, as I began reflecting on these factors more deeply, I saw a pattern emerge. While assignments are completed, those courses that have established a strong community provided more motivation and deeper study of issues based on the participants interests and feedback. Along these lines, when considering ARCS model (attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction), all factors are increased by an online community's interactions. The attention to the subject is increased because both individual and discussion over the topic occurs. Relevance is increased through the application of the ideas to our every day lives. Confidence and satisfaction seem to go hand-in-hand in that the back and forth dialogue provided allows increased confidence and satisfaction in the work.

Any Thoughts?

Kim, K. & Frick, T.W. (2011). Changes in student motivation during online learning. J. educational computing research, 44(1). 1-23.


  1. Micah, I agree with your insight on the social aspect of online learning and how it contributes to motivation. My most recent course was a theory-heavy class that I pretty much hated. But my interactions with my classmates on team projects, sharing our experiences with applying the material to our workplaces and the pull to keep up my end in team collaborations are what ultimately brought me value from the class.

    The concern I'm now facing is: how do we add the social element to elearning courses that are stand-alone, completely self-directed and instructor-less? That's going to be a challenge . . .

  2. I think you are right, Mikah. The study seemed to establish what was already known about motivation and its connection to the elements of the ARCS model. I found myself without any deeper insight into tactics to improve motivation. We all want the learner to be motivated but how do we get there?