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The Importance of Motivation: Integrating Flow Theory into Instructional Design PROCEEDINGS

, Marist College, United States ; , Texas Tech University, United States

Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference, ISBN 978-1-880094-33-4 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Chesapeake, VA


It seems a truism but when people are intrinsically motivated to learn, they not only learn more, they also have a more positive experience (Deci & Ryan, 1985). Handicapped by a lack of good theoretical framework, designers often assume that good quality instruction is by itself motivating (Keller, 1983). When motivation is considered, it is often simply seen as steps that must occur prior to instruction, such as "gaining attention" or "orienting the learners" rather than as a central element in the instructional design itself. Traditional instructional design is concerned with different issues from those of motivation. Instructional design focuses on learning, while motivation is concerned with emotional issues. Keller (1983) attempted bridge this gap between instructional and motivational issues. His theory however was limited due to the fact that it devoted little attention to other variables (Snelbecker, 1987). Keller's constructs, nonetheless, provide a good theoretical congruence between Csikszentmihalyi's flow theory and traditional instructional design. Flow is an optimal psychological state (Csikszentmihalyi 1975; 1982; 1985; 1988; 1990; 1994; 1997) in which people become so intensely involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. The experience is so enjoyable that they will do it for its own sake. Keller and Csikszentmihalyi emphasize the importance of five design elements: challenge, goal, concentration, control and feedback. At its most basic, flow theory is simply a description of people enjoying themselves. The goal of this study was an exploratory adaptation of flow theory for designing instructional activities. We explored how to use flow theory and its effects on motivation in a classroom setting, which typically has less than optimal conditions.


Chan, T.S. & Ahern, T.C. (1999). The Importance of Motivation: Integrating Flow Theory into Instructional Design. In J. Price et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 1999 (pp. 780-782). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.


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