Instructional or Learning Design Theories


Other Resources

Learning Environment Design Framework
Instructional Design Toolkit

ISD Concept Map
ISD Concept Map

Learning Concept Map
Learning Concept Map


A Framework for Instructional Design

John Keller's ARCS Model of Motivational Design

According to John Keller (1988), there are four steps in the instructional design process — Attention, Relevance, Confidence, & Satisfaction (ARCS).


Attention can be gained in two ways:

Methods for grabbing the learners' attention include:

The first step, gaining the learner's attention, is normally relatively easy; the key is to then maintain their attention at an optimal level after grabbing them. You have to keep them from becoming bored nor over stimulate them (arousal).


Emphasize relevance within the instruction to increase motivation by using concrete language and examples with which the learners are familiar. They are six major strategies For accomplishing this:


Allow the learners to succeed! However, present a degree of challenge that provides meaningful success:


Satisfaction is based upon motivation, which can be intrinsic or extrinsic.

Provide opportunities to use newly acquired knowledge or skill in a real or simulated setting. Provide feedback and reinforcements that will sustain the desired behavior. If learners feel good about learning results, they will be motivated to learn. Some basic rules are:

Notice that satisfaction is closely related to confidence. If you allow the learners to build confidence, satisfaction will follow if the task remains challenging.

B.F. Skinner had a major influence on ID through behaviorism and programmed instruction. He believed the best way for creating a good learning environment was to identify the desired behavior, then create situations in which successive approximations of the behavior would occur and be reinforced.


Keller, J.M., & Suzuki, K. (1988). Use of the ARCS motivation model in courseware design. In D. H. Jonassen (ED.) Instructional designs for microcomputer courseware. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.