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Measuring motivational elements: adapting the M.U.S.I.C model of motivation for e-learning

Wednesday 3 July: 5:30pm – 7:00pm, poster session



Amanda Charlton
University of Auckland, New Zealand

Associate Professor Diane Kenwright
University of Otago, New Zealand



We all want to design lessons that motivate student learning, including online e-lessons. The M.U.S.I.C1  mnemonic  helps instructors remember 5 motivational components.

The student:

  1. eMpowerment – has the ability to make some decisions about their learning
  2. Usefulness -understands why the lesson is useful for their short or long term goals
  3. Success –believes they can succeed if they put in the effort
  4. Interest – is interested in the content and activities
  5. Caring –feels connected to other students and the instructor

These motivational components are evaluated by a validated 26 item survey1 designed to identify the student’s perception of the relative presence or absence of each of these 5 motivational components. To evaluate a short (20 min) online e-lesson, a 26 item survey seems disproportionately long. We needed to balance survey utility with practicality, so we shortened the survey to 5 items.



To determine if there is a difference in student rating of the same motivational elements between the 5 item survey and the 26 item survey.



The 26 item survey contains 5 questions about each of the 5 motivational elements. We shortened the survey to 1 question from each of the 5 motivational elements. We compared the responses from the short and long surveys using the Student’s t test on the same cohort of students after completing the same e-lesson.



The p value =0.5, this means there is no statistical difference. Students give the same rating to motivational elements in both the long and short surveys.



This pilot study showed the short 5 item survey identified the same missing motivational elements to target e-lesson redesign. The short survey has the advantage of being easier to implement and analyse.



  • Learning,
  • Technology,
  • Success,
  • Working in partnership


One of the challenges of lessons and course design is motivating students to engage with the content and activity. We know motivated students have better outcomes. One of the principles of motivation is the student’s belief they can succeed. Motivational theories such as self determination theory and expectancy value theory have informed the design of face to face learning encounters. The change in the 21st century is translating motivational instructional design principles to the online learning environment.  We, as instructors, advocate working in partnership with students by asking for, and incorporating student feedback on motivational elements in the lesson redesign cycle. We as instructors have the opportunity to use existing validated survey instruments to evaluate student perceptions of motivational principles in online lessons, to improve student learning and success. We took the opportunity to change the existing survey to meet the needs of learners and instructors in the online learning environment. 



Jones, Brett D. “Motivating students to engage in learning: The MUSIC model of academic motivation.” International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 21.2 (2009): 272-285.


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Poster session

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