Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

Motivating the Reluctant, Novice Learner: Principles of Macroeconomics

Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

Motivating the Reluctant, Novice Learner: Principles of Macroeconomics

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Most instructors recognize the correlation between student motivation and academic learning and achievement. This is supported by literature not only establishing the link, but also work that includes myriad strategies for affecting multiple aspects of motivation. As a result, instructors who may desire to improve student motivation in their courses, but are unclear about how to address this vague, but important concept can seek out indications of how they can begin. A specific model (ARCS) was developed by John Keller (1983) to help instructors operationalize the important elements of motivation so that they could improve the impact of their instruction. The ARCS model--by examining the motivational constructs of attention, relevance, confidence and satisfaction--provides a practical framework for faculty to design instruction that increases student motivational perceptions. This paper describes how the ARCS model can be used to design and improve instruction in the economics classroom. Strategies are presented for increasing student perceptions in four motivational constructs. Specific economics examples and instructional ideas are offered to give practical applications of the model. Finally, a Principles of Macroeconomics course redesign is described and evaluated in terms of increasing elements of interest consistent with motivational constructs.

INTRODUCTION

Every time college instructors walk into a required introductory level class, they face the unique challenge of motivating reluctant, novice learners. Meeting this challenge is important because most college instructors recognize there is a direct correlation between motivation and academic learning and achievement. Certainly, the instructor has the goal of meeting learning objectives set, and if instructor enthusiasm for his/her chosen field were sufficient to motivate students, there would be no challenge. But motivating students requires more than an instructor's passion for the subject taught. So the authors have been faced with a series of questions: how does an instructor proceed in seeking to increase student motivation overall, how does this apply to introductory required courses generally, and how does this apply to introductory economics courses specifically? The authors suspected that a key factor in motivation was in demonstrating to the student why particular course content was important in that student's learning and life. They also believed that it was paramount that students believe they were capable of using/applying the material beyond the classroom setting for it to be meaningful. This led to further questions. Beyond intuition and dedication, is there a more systematic way of addressing student motivation in the authors' courses in particular and courses in general? Is there a practical way to address student motivation in designing and delivering instruction?

Fortunately, extensive work has been done in motivation of learning research. Exploration of the literature reveals a wide variety of factors to be considered by the instructor seeking to improve the motivation to learn, including those of particular concern to the authors: making material relevant to students, and helping students master application of the material. Based on the foundation of learning motivation literature, John Keller created a model for systematic inquiry into motivating students with particular attention to the authors' desired areas of inquiry. Keller (1983) developed the ARCS model to help instructors operationalize the important elements of motivation so that they could improve the motivational impact of their instruction. The ARCS model provides a practical framework for faculty to devise motivationally designed strategies to increase student effort toward instructional goals. This paper: 1) explores the literature regarding motivation and learning, 2) explores the potential use of the ARCS model to design and improve instruction in economics courses in general, and 3) applies the ARCS model to a Principles of Macroeconomics course redesign, targeting the relevance and confidence subscales. …

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