Monday, February 27, 2012

Theory Basis: Motivational Theory


The blog’s first poll indicated a desire to learn more about motivation.   No doubt this is an important subject.  Understanding motivation is a very complex undertaking because there are many inter-related factors that play within the equation, it isn't a simple cause and effect relationship. Here is what I have found useful as a basis for integrating motivation into instructional design:
Human needs fuel motivation. Motivation directs and meters our mental and physical energies. The amount of mental and physical energies directly influences what we learn and how well we will retain it.  Graphically it would look like Figure 1:
 Figure 1: Needs, Motivation, and Learning
Note: Learning and retention are two different processes; a subject of another post.

From Complex to Simple

I had the privilege to attend a Bob Pike seminar in the early 90’s.  Of the many golden nuggets I took away from that seminar was Bob’s basic principles regarding motivation.  They are (1):
1.   You cannot motivate other people
2.   All people are motivated
3.   People do things for their own reasons, not your reasons
At this point you might be thinking:  OK.  So what can I do?  Although it is true you can’t motivate other people, you can create an environment where motivation can flourish or be squelched.

Human needs are innate and we don’t have to create or do anything to modify them.  Our success will depend on how well you address the learner’s needs.  To do so we need to be broadcasting our content on radio station WIIFM, or What’s In It For Me and our focus should be “learner-centered”.  We are like the throttle for the engine of motivation; influencing the energy output.  Adding our role into the previous graphic would look like Figure 2:

Figure 2: Instructor’s Influence on Motivation
Creating an Environment to Foster Motivation
I am going to assume (“Danger!… Danger ! Will Robinson” (2)) that all of you have some familiarity with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  If not, this link will take you to a Wikipedia Article on the topic.   For the initiated, recall, according to Maslow, one cannot reach a higher level until the needs of the levels below it are met.
The following information will be based on two authors: Malcolm Knowles and John Keller.  Malcolm Knowles is predominately known for his work regarding adult learning theory and John Keller for his motivational ARCS model.
Malcolm Knowles (3) provides a number of qualities the learning environment should have in order to support a motivating environment.  These qualities will address needs at Maslow’s levels of Safety, Belonging, and Esteem:
·     A climate of mutual respect.  Don’t talk down to or embarrass learners.
·     A climate of collaborativeness rather than competitiveness; mutual helpers vs. rivals
·     A climate of supportiveness rather than judgementalness.  Be supportive in your own behavior.
·     A climate of mutual trust.  Present yourself as being human rather than an expert.
·     A climate of fun. Use of spontaneous (appropriate) humor.
·     A human climate. Learning is a human activity; treat learners as human beings not objects.

According to John Keller’s ARCS Model of Motivational Design, there are four categories for promoting and sustaining motivation in the learning process: Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction (ARCS).
·    Attention can be gained in two ways: (1) Perceptual arousal – uses surprise or uncertainly to gain interest. Uses novel, surprising, incongruous, and uncertain events; or (2) Inquiry arousal – stimulates curiosity by posing challenging questions or problems to be solved.
·    Relevance:  creating an awareness of a need to: solve a problem or avoids one, provide an opportunity of increased status, or include professional or personal growth.
·    Confidence can influence a learner’s persistence.  If the learner believes he or she will be successful they will continue to try.
·     Satisfaction:  people are more motivated if the task and reward are defined.
After the instructional content and methods have been determined, it is time to work on incorporating motivational strategies.  I suggest each category can be applied to each learning objective or group of objectives.
A Golden Nugget:   In his article, Development and Use of the ARCS Model of Instruction,  John Keller provides 61 strategies for applying his model.  I keep this article handy whenever I am designing.

Challenge:  One strategy to enhance the learning envrionment is to give them a choice. Review one of your courses and find a juncture to incorporate an opportunity for the learner to make a choice regarding content, methods, or materials.  Share your change in a comment to this blog.
Look forward to your comments,

1.   Pike, R. W. (1989). Creative Training Techniques Handbook. Minneapolis, MN.: Lakewood Books.
2.   1960s’ American television series Lost in Space spoken by voice actor Dick Tufeld. The Robot, acting as a surrogate guardian, says this to young Will Robinson when the boy is unaware of an impending threat. In everyday use, the phrase warns someone that they are about to make a mistake or that they are overlooking something.
3.   Knowles, M. S. (1980). The modern practice of adult education: From pedagogy to andragogy (2nd ed.) New York, NY: Cambridge Press.

Suggested Reading or the One Book on the Topic I Would Have on My Shelf
Wlodkowski, R.J. ((1999) Enhancing Adult Motivation To Learn: A comprehensive Guide for Teaching All Adults. Jossey-Bass. San Francisco, CA.
This book is a great blend of adult learning theory and motivational principles interspersed with over 60 strategies on how to enhance adult motivation.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What Is Instructional System Design?


Welcome. This is the inaugural post for this blog.  I wanted to point out that information about the blog and me (the author) are available on the tabs just under the header.

The Beginning

An old presenter’s adage says, “When in doubt, spell it out.”  So just to establish a baseline for this blog, I will discuss what Instructional Systems Design (ISD) is and the major theory basis that support ISD.

Cj’s definition, Instructional Systems Design is a process that combines the elements from various sciences to aid in creating an experience aimed at helping humans learn.  You can find a lot of other definitions like at Wikipedia, but I’m bringing you mine in from the 10,000 ft. level (read big picture).

Please take a moment and reflect about all the different activities and components of designing and implementing an instructional event.  Now, brainstorm lists of the various science areas (theory basis) that collaborate during the process. 

 I hope you came up with a few of the following; maybe even more:

·       Systems theory (systematic approaches to training)
·       Communications theory (transmitting the message)
·       Learning theory (how people learn)
·       Instructional theory (conditions that facilitate learning)
·       Motivational theory (how to influence what we do)
·       Psychometrics (testing)

Graphically it would look like:

Parts is Parts

Systems theory supplies the interrelationships of a process; a combination of parts forming a complex or unitary whole.  Communications theory shows us how to impart our thoughts, opinions, or information by audio, video, text and/or visuals. Learning theory explains the process of how humans learn providing the basis for instructional theory.  Instructional theory uses the theories of learning and describes how to construct an environment that is conducive to learning. Motivational theory gives us direction on how to tap our emotional energy; so learning becomes desirable. And, psychometrics supplies the methods of testing which provides us with a metric to judge our success.

What’s a Trainer to Do?

There are countless models, techniques, and strategies associated with each supporting area.  Why?  Because none of them work all the time under the variety of possible things we can learn and the conditions we may learn under. One could take a single science area and spend a lifetime or a career mastering all of its nuances. To our benefit, there are some general guidelines for application. So, here is our challenge, to learn enough about all of them in order to be eclectic enough to make reasoned decisions about what we create to help others learn; the main focus of this blog.


You can read A Brief History of Instructional Design by Douglas Leigh.

Your Turn

Your comments, candid and kind, will be appreciated and the next blog posting might depend on the answer to the poll question.  Please take time to answer it.

Best regards,