Academic journal article Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia

An Integrated Model of Multimedia Learning and Motivation

Academic journal article Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia

An Integrated Model of Multimedia Learning and Motivation

Article excerpt

        Evidence from multimedia research is far from being conclusive
        because of producing confounding effects or of neglecting
        parameters. Motivation plays a major role in this shortcoming
        as traditional multimedia theory is mainly based on cognitive
        factors, widely ignoring the fact that motivation significantly
        influences learning resources. Within this article, several
        theoretical models are critically reviewed and an integrated
        model of multimedia learning and motivation is presented, which
        is based on current research in the field of educational
        psychology. The model can stimulate research, as it represents
        an expansion of the popular cognitive theory of multimedia
        learning from Mayer (2001). It integrates additional variables,
        such as mental resources management and motivational processing.
        The model can also provide instructional designers with a
        summary of main factors that have to be considered when
        developing multimedia-based learning environments.


Motivating the academically unmotivated represents one of the critical issues for establishing a multimedia-based life-long learning platform (Hidi & Harackiewicz, 2000). However, multimedia research has not yet faced the motivational challenge. A fundamental characteristic of multimedia research is the fact that research studies testing similar instructional elements show positive effects, others null effects, with some even showing negative effects (see, for example, the meta-analysis from Dillon & Gabbard, 1998 or from Liao, 1999). This is because of many contingent factors (multimedia input, cognitive processing, learner dynamics, etc.) that have been shown to moderate multimedia learning effects. In order to be able to determine multimedia effectiveness, a theory of multimedia learning has to be established. Such a theory should integrate and distinguish as much as possible factors that contribute to multimedia learning, but especially motivational factors (e.g., Jonassen & Land, 2000). At the moment, there are several approaches dealing with motivation in multimedia learning, which have to be evaluated in their capacity to stimulate theory and research in the field. These approaches are widely unknown in the field of multimedia research and come from Malone and Lepper (1987), from a combination of a model of motivation in self-regulated learning and the ARCS-approach (Keller, 1983, 1997, 1999; Rheinberg, Vollmeyer, & Rollet, 2000), from a model of integrated multimedia effects by Hede (2002), and finally from a model of a motivational expansion of Mayer's (2001) cognitive theory of multimedia learning.


Malone and Lepper (1987) identified four major factors: challenge, curiosity, control, and fantasy, which make a multimedia learning environment motivating. To be challenging, activities should be kept continuously at an optimal level of difficulty to keep the learner from being either bored or frustrated. To elicit sensory or cognitive curiosity in activities, one can use audio-visual devices or present information that makes the learner believe that his/her current knowledge structure is incomplete, inconsistent, or un-parsimonious. Activities should also promote a sense of control on the part of the learner, that is, a feeling that learning outcomes are determined by the learner's own actions. Finally, one can engage the learner in make-believe activities or fantasy contexts that allow the learner to experience situations not actually present, but intrinsically motivating.

The approach from Malone and Lepper (1987) represents an instructional design approach which is, to some degree, based on motivational theory, but formulated primarily as prescriptions for instructional designers. These prescriptions are related to multimedia as they include, for example, audio-visual strategies, in addition, they are comprehensive, exclusive, and concern motivationally effective parameters. …

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