It has been eight intense weeks for me. I’ve learned a lot and have a deeper appreciation for learning theories and their role in the process of learning and instruction. I think the biggest surprise over the period was how the new information changed my view of how I learned. When initially asked to diagram my learning network I honestly thought it would be small. As I started to list my connections I realized how extensive my network was and how truly dependent I was on it. I found that my conviction on which theories best explained how I learn was easily swayed once I was exposed to new theories such as connectivism and adult learning theory. I am now certain that no one theory explains how I learn, they all collectively explain the learning process and in some cases seek to build on existing knowledge about learning. Even more surprising was the role that motivation plays for the adult learner.
Schunk, Pintrich, and Meece (2008) defines motivation as “the process whereby goal-directed activity is instigated and sustained”. There are two types of motivation: intrinsic (within the learner) and extrinsic (external factors). Before starting this course, I erroneously had the view that all I needed was intrinsic motivation. ARCS motivational design process put forward by Keller (1987) provides a systematic approach to incorporate motivation in an online course design. Keller focuses on four areas: Attention, Relevance, Confidence and Satisfaction. “Research has demonstrated that each of these elements promote learner persistence and ultimately, mastery of e-learning content” (Marshall & Wilson, 2013). My rocky road with this module proves Keller right. Initially I was upbeat and eager to learn, as my intrinsic motivation waned I believe the motivation designed in the course took over. When the bulk of work left me feeling like I was about to drown, I didn’t. I found that extra push to complete each assignment. When the final week came and I was presented with ARCS I was completely lost, I was interacting with this for the first time and for the life of me after reading the assigned literature I just did not get it. I spent countless hours researching and reading more on the approach until I could final say “yes, I think I have it now”. I cannot identify one particular thing that kept me going, but the fact that I’m at the eighth week and doing this reflection suggests that I made it through.
My experience has taught me the importance of motivation in the courses I will eventually design. As Marshall and Wilson (2013) stated so eloquently: “learner motivation is an important element of any instructional endeavor”. Ormrod, Schunk, and Gredler (2009) reveals that motivation increases an individual’s energy and activity level; directs an individual toward certain goals; promotes initiation of certain activities and persistence in those activities as well as affects the learning strategies and other cognitive processed an individual brings to bear on a task. The authors further explains that students who are intrinsically motivated, as opposed to extrinsically motivated, perform better in the learning environment. Despite this, they maintain the importance of extrinsic motivation and further explains that a particular motivation can be both instrinsic and extrinsic. There may be cases too where extrinsic motivation results in intrinsic rewards.
This course has further taught me that learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation have a symbiotic relationship. While each stand independently, they all rely on each other to work in a learning environment. If I consider adaptive learning technologies (educational technology) as an example, they rely on learning theories (constructivism, cognitive learning theory, behaviorism and connectivism), information is usually presented using varying styles (text, graphics, audio, video and music) and motivation (extrinsic and intrinsic rewards) is built into the design to assist learners with mastering the content.
My future as an Instructional Designer will most certainly be shaped by what I’ve learned these past eight weeks. The creation of effective instructions must consider what the learner outcomes are. One must bring to bear on the design the various learning theories and how best to structure the lesson for best retention. I will also include a variety of media and activities to aid the learner with understanding and understanding in a way that is meaningful to them. My design will also incorporate motivational tactics to gain the learner attention and keep them attentive throughout the course, demonstrate course relevance and build their confidence all in an effort to ensure their success.
Marshall, J., & Wilson, M. (2013, October). Motivating e-Learners: Application of the ARCS Model to e-Learning for San Diego Zoo Global’s Animal Care Professionals. Retrieved from http://www.jaidpub.org/: http://www.jaidpub.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/JAIDOctober2013MarshallWilson.pdf
Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition ed.). New York: Pearson.
Schunk, D., Pintrich, P., & Meece, J. (2008). Motivation in Education: Theory, Research, and Applications. Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall.