Motivational Matrix for Educational Games

Motivational Matrix for Educational Games

Athanasis Karoulis (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch432
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The study of the motivational factor in educational games (aka EduGames) has been limited up to now. A former study (Karoulis, 2004) discussed some aspects and proposed the adherence to the ARCS model of motivation proposed by Keller (Keller, 1983; Keller, 1998), which describes the motivation of any educational piece according to four factors: attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction. Present study attempts to summarize the attributes of any EduGame, as they are encountered in the relative literature (including representations) and to match every one of those attributes to one (or more) of the ARCS-factors of motivation. The benefit of this approach is a better understanding of the motivational nature of every attribute of every EduGame and an obvious extension is the evolvement of a set of design guidelines for designers of EduGames and educational software in general.
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Keller’s ARCS Model for Motivation

Motivation is the most overlooked aspect of instructional strategy, and perhaps the most critical element needed for employee-learners. Even the most elegantly designed training program will fail if the students are not motivated to learn. Without a desire to learn on the part of the student, retention is unlikely. Many students in a corporate setting who are forced to complete training programs are motivated only to “pass the test.” Designers must strive to create a deeper motivation in learners for them to learn new skills and transfer those skills back into the work environment.

As a first step, instructional designers should not assume they understand the target audience’s motivation. To analyze needs, the designer should ask prospective learners questions such as:

  • What would the value be to you from this type of program?

  • What do you hope to get out of this program?

  • What are your interests in this topic?

  • What are you most pressing problems?

The answers to these types of questions are likely to provide insight into learner motivation, as well as desirable behavioral outcomes.

Keller synthesized existing research on psychological motivation and created the ARCS model (Keller & Kopp, 1987). ARCS stands for attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction. This model is not intended to stand apart as a separate system for instructional design, but can be incorporated within Gagne’s events of instruction (Gagne, 1985, 1987; Gagne, Briggs, & Wager, 1992).

  • Attention: The first and single most important aspect of the ARCS model is gaining and keeping the learner’s attention, which coincides with the first step in Gagne’s model. Keller’s strategies for attention include sensory stimuli (as discussed previously), inquiry arousal (thought provoking questions), and variability (variance in exercises and use of media).

  • Relevance: Attention and motivation will not be maintained, however, unless the learner believes the training is relevant. Put simply, the training program should answer the critical question, “What’s in it for me?” Benefits should be clearly stated. For a sales training program, the benefit might be to help representatives increase their sales and personal commissions. For a safety-training program, the benefit might be to reduce the number of workers getting hurt. For a software-training program, the benefit to users could be to make them more productive or reduce their frustration with an application. A healthcare program might have the benefit that it can teach doctors how to treat certain patients.

  • Confidence: The confidence aspect of the ARCS model is required so that students feel that they should put a good faith effort into the program. If they think they are incapable of achieving the objectives or that it will take too much time or effort, their motivation will decrease. In technology-based training programs, students should be given estimates of the time required to complete lessons or a measure of their progress through the program.

  • Satisfaction: Finally, learners must obtain some type of satisfaction or reward from the learning experience. This can be in the form of entertainment or a sense of achievement. A self-assessment game, for example, might end with an animation sequence acknowledging the player’s high score. A passing grade on a post-test might be rewarded with a completion certificate. Other forms of external rewards would include praise from a supervisor, a raise, or a promotion. Ultimately, though, the best way for learners to achieve satisfaction is for them to find their new skills immediately useful and beneficial on their job.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Multimedia Representations: Chunk of educational information depicting selected aspects of the depicted world by means of multimedia modalities.

Attributes: Characteristics of an entity, clearly contributing to its utility.

ARCS Model: A model describing motivation by means of the four factors of attention, relevance confidence, and satisfaction.

Educational Games: Computer-based electronic games with high educational value. They usually adhere to the constructivist theory of learning.

Classi fication: A taxonomy according to dominant characteristics of some entities.

Motivational Matrix: A table combining the motivational characteristics with the attributes of other entities.

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