Applying Keller’s ARCS model to the Gamification course I am auditing, I have identified components from two of the model’s four elements that could be modified to improve online motivation and engagement. The first method comes from the first element of Keller’s model, Attention. Keller asserts “For inquiry arousal, the learners’ curiosity would be stimulated by challenging problems that needed to be solved” (Pappas, 2015). I think that the developers of the Gamification course could have included some difficult problems that the learners needed to solve. Frank Avella would concur: “Inquiry-based learning methods will inherently keep your students’ attention” (Avella, 2018). These problems could have been solved individually or in groups. For instance, each member of a team might be given different information. On its own, the information is useless, however, when collaborating with other group members, the various bits of information fit together and can be used to solve the problem. These problems could have been presented in a gamified form, to increase engagement even further, as learners become active participants in the learning process. Another component of the Attention element is the use of humour. The gamification course could have easily included a few cartoons or short video clips as a way to hook its learners.

The second area of improvement falls under the element of Relevance. Keller believed relevance must be established in order to motivate learners (Pappas, 2015). By simply providing some examples of gamification programs that various teachers have used successfully in the past, the course would be satisfying three relevance strategies. First, perceived present worth, which would inform the learner that successful completion of the course would result in the acquisition of skills required to address current issues in real life. Second, perceived future usefulness, where learners are motivated because they can see how application of the course content will help them in real life in the future. Last, modeling, where the designers could have included presentations from everyday people, who have successfully integrated gamification into their classrooms. Seeing the accomplishments of others, who are utilizing techniques taught in the class, legitimizes the course, and makes it a priority to complete for learners.


Identifying evidence of Keller’s model in the course design of Leading Change: Go Beyond Gamification with Gameful Learning

Attention: Grab and hold the learners’ attention
Category Design elements Rate Evidence in MOOC audit course
Active Participation Games, role plays or other hands-on practice. 1 No evidence
Use of humor Include short humorous stories or light hearted humour in the course to grab the audience. 1 No evidence
Conflict Present statements of facts that might be contrary to what the learner believes to be true. 1 No evidence
Variety Employ a variety of media to grab the learners’ attention. 2 There are only ever readings and videos in each module.
Real World Examples Employ real life stories or examples to show that what is being learned has a practical application. 2 The talk about real world examples in the video clips, however, there is no gamification examples on the site.
Relevance: The course design must establish relevance to be motivating.  Use stories, language to which the learner can relate.
Link to previous experience Help learners’ develop of sense of continuity by realizing they are expanding their knowledge base. 1 There was a very basic questionnaire in the introductory module.
Perceived present worth Believe the course will equip them with the skills they desire to help them resolve a current issue. 2 Again, it would have been nice to see some gamification examples that are being used and possible.
Perceived future usefulness The degree to which learners’ believe the skills will help them later in their real lives. Communicate from the very beginning. 2 In interviews, educators give tips on how to set up your classroom for gamification, but no mention of the specific skills required to create the actual games.
Modeling Offer presentations by those who might present them with a model of success. 1 No evidence
Choice Give choice in learning methods or media that they may find more effective. 4 Learners are given choices between their module topics as well as options within a chosen module.
Confidence: Instill a sense of confidence in learners by helping them see that they can succeed.
Facilitate self growth Encourage small steps and then immediately show progress in the course. 3 The course automatically checks off pages and activities as you complete them.
Communicate objectives and prerequisites Be clear on what needs to be achieved and how learners will be evaluated. 3 The course clearly lists what objectives and goals are to be met in multiple locations.
Provide feedback Provide constructive feedback and ensure learners know where they stand. 2 Feedback is very limited and is composed of mainly your automated quiz results.
Give learner control Provide learners’ with some degree of control over the learning process. 3 Learners can choose which modules they want to study and which activities to do. There are no options, though, with respect to different ways a learner can demonstrate their learning.
Satisfaction: Learners should be proud and satisfied of what they have achieved throughout the eLearning course.
Praise or rewards Present the learners with some kind of reward – can be a sense of accomplishment or praise from the online facilitator. 2 Very little communication from the online facilitator. There is a map that gets coloured in when you complete an activity and module.
Immediate application Encourage learners to apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills in the real world setting or engage them in real problem solving activities. 1 Learners would not be able to apply their new knowledge and skills right away, because they do not have the skills to create a gamification course. They have only learned the theory in facilitating a gamified course.

Adapted from:



Avella, F. (2018, November 20). Student motivation: The ARCS model [Video file]. YouTube.

Charles, B. (2020, November 18). Leveraging learning theories in eLearning. Flare Learning – Training Illuminated – Online Training Courses | Flare Learning.

Pappas, C. (2020, May 12). Instructional design models and Theories: Keller’s Arcs model of motivation.


Leveraging Learning Theories in eLearning

John Keller’s ARCS model, 2020. Source: