Show Menu

The ARCS Mode Cheat Sheet by

he ARCS Mode
model     motivation     relevance     satisfaction     teaching     arcs     attention     confidence


“Motiv­ation consists of the amount of effort a person is willing to exert in pursuit of a goal” (Keller, 2006a, ¶3), and in the context of learning, “motiv­ational tactics have to support instru­ctional goals” (Keller, 2006b, ¶7). For this purpose, instru­ction can be designed to enhance four learner motivation catego­ries.


Atte­ntion (A) — Arouse student curiosity and interest.
Rele­vance (R) — Relate to student’s experi­ences and needs.
Conf­idence (C) — Scaffold student’s success of meaningful tasks.
Sati­sfa­ction (S) — Build student’s sense of reward and achiev­ement.
Note: Keller (1979) based his emphasis on motivation for the design of instru­ction on a combin­ation of theories, including:
(1) Bandura’s Self-E­fficacy (1977),
(2) Berlyne’s Curiosity and Arousal (1965),
(3) Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy (1954),
(4) McCell­and’s Achiev­ement Motivation (1976),
(5) Rotter’s Locus of Control (1975), and
(6) Seligman’s Learned Helple­ssness (1975) to substa­ntiate motivating factors for learners.”



Arouse student curiosity and interest in three ways:
(1) Stimulate percep­tions (surprise, uncert­ainty, novelty, juxtap­osi­tions).
(2) Engage inquiry (puzzles, questions, problems, dilemmas).
(3) Create variety (different kinds of examples, models, exercises, and presen­tation modali­ties).

Example: incong­ruity, conflict; games, roleplay, hands-­on/­min­ds-on methods; questions, problems, brains­tor­ming; videos, mini-d­isc­ussion groups, lectures, visual stimuli, story-­telling
Refl­ect­ion: How does an instru­ctor’s enthusiasm change attention?


Relate to student’s experi­ences and needs in 3 ways:
(1) Orient students to useful goals (identify goals and explain their purpose, allow students to select or define goals, give examples of goals, explicitly state or show value of goals).
(2) Match student motives (adapt to prefer­ences for what students want to cover or how to cover it, include benefits that match student interests and needs).
(3) Connect to something familiar (use concrete familiar language and commun­ication modali­ties, relate goals to something familiar such as prior knowledge or experi­ences).

Example: paraphrase content, use metaphors, give examples, ask students to give examples from their own experi­ences, use concept map or outline, give students choice in how to organize what they learn, explain how the new learning will use students’ existing skills, explain or show “What will the subject matter do for me today?
Refl­ect­ion: How do teaching models, field trips, portfo­lios, and student choice change relevance?


Scaffold student’s success of meaningful tasks in three ways
(1) Set learning requir­eme­nts (set clear goals, standards, requir­ements, and evaluative criteria).
(2) Create success opport­uni­ties (give challe­nging and meaningful opport­unities for successful achiev­ement within available time, resources, and effort).
(3) Encourage personal control (show or explain how the students’ own effort determines success — how personal respon­sib­ility connects directly to achiev­ement).

Example: allow students to choose goals, allow small steps for achiev­ement, give feedback and support, provide learners with some degree of control over their learning and assess­ment, show that success is a direct result of students’ personal effort, give confir­mat­ory­-co­rre­cti­ve-­inf­orm­ati­ve-­ana­lytical feedback rather than social praise,
Refl­ect­ion: How do clear organi­zation and easy to use materials change expect­ations for success?


Build student’s sense of reward and achiev­ement in three ways
(1) Support intrinsic and natural conseq­uen­ces (learning applied in real world or simulated context with conseq­uen­ces).
(2) Provide extrinsic and positive conseq­uen­ces (feedback after practice to confirm, analyze, or correct perfor­mance).
(3) Apply equity in learning and assess­ment (consi­stent conseq­uences for meeting standard consistent evaluation criteria).

Example: Avoid over-r­ewa­rding easy tasks, give more inform­ative feedback rather than praise or entert­ainment value; use practical examples related to students’ interests; award certif­icates for mastery of skills; provide testim­onials from previous students about value of the learning; give evaluative feedback using equitable criteria
Refl­ect­ion: Why does social praise not work as well as inform­ative feedback in creating satisf­action? How do rubrics change satisf­action?

Download the The ARCS Mode Cheat Sheet

2 Pages

PDF (recommended)

Alternative Downloads

Share This Cheat Sheet!



No comments yet. Add yours below!

Add a Comment

Your Comment

Please enter your name.

    Please enter your email address

      Please enter your Comment.

          Related Cheat Sheets

          Conceptual Database Design Cheat Sheet

          More Cheat Sheets by Davidpol

          10 Little-Known Rules in the Art of Listening Cheat Sheet
          The Twelve Steps of QAPI Cheat Sheet