In the field of multimedia learning, although research on cognitive effects and their implications for instructional design is rich, research on the effects of motivation in a multimedia learning context is surprisingly scarce. Since one of the major goals of providing multimedia instruction is to motivate students, there is need to examine motivational elements. In this chapter, we focus on 4 major motivation theories–expectancy-value theory, self-efficacy, goal-setting and task motivation, and self-determination theory–and two motivation models–ARCS model and the integrated model of cognitive-motivational processes–that are derived from multimedia research; review the literature on motivation in multimedia learning contexts, suggest that researchers and practitioners take into account a number of essential aspects to ensure that motivation features incorporated in multimedia learning resources optimize learners’ experience; and point out future research directions in model building, hypothesis testing, examining individual differences, and carrying out longitudinal studies.
It has been almost axiomatic since ancient times even before Aristotle and Confucius that meaningful learning is associated with motivation. However, despite the efforts of some experts in multimedia learning motivation (e.g., Astleitner & Hufnagl, 2003; Gao & Lehman, 2003; Keller & Suzuki, 2004; Song & Keller, 2001), research in multimedia learning at large has not taken motivational issues into account. Instructors may deem that multimedia material and associated operations are more interesting (e.g., text + pictures + sound) or more accessible (e.g., e-learning at the user’s convenient time) than conventional methods. The underlying assumption is that learners who have the opportunity to use multimedia resources should be highly motivated. However, if we scrutinize the literature, we will soon find that multimedia technology together with a certain type of course design may not lead to elevated motivation and superior learning performance. For instance, in a well-controlled study with initial motivational screen and randomization of subject assignment, online evaluation shows that medical students initially with positive attitudes towards computer-based learning (CBL) were not enthusiastic at the end of course, and learning outcomes were significantly affected by students’ prior knowledge but not by their CBL use (Hahne, Benndorf, Frey, & Herzig, 2005). The implication is that CBL may hold too much promise in a curriculum scenario, and that hasty implementation of such curriculum-driven CBL program may carry a risk of deteriorating students’ positive attitude towards CBL.