Mimio Educator

Using the ARCS Model for Motivating Your Students

Posted by Melizza Cuizon on Wed, Feb 24, 2021

ARCS Model blog

Have you hit your rhythm with lesson planning, teaching, meeting with students, and grading assignments? Are your students excited each time they walk in the classroom or turn on their web cameras for a live virtual lesson? Do you wake up each morning with so much energy that the cup of coffee you pour is really unnecessary? If your answer is ‘Yes’ to the previous, Kudos to you! (I’d also like to interview you for my next blog.) For the rest of you, there may be moments of ‘Yes’, ‘Sometimes’, and ‘I wish’ for each of these questions and that speaks to your hard work and effort to make learning an enjoyable experience for all.

Many of you have a variety of technology tools such as document cameras, interactive flat panel displays, and software that is designed to help you create interactive lessons to engage every student in your class whether in-class or virtually. Of course, all the tools in the world won’t help if you’re not sure how to use them or what really motivates your students. As we approach the one-year mark of a worldwide pandemic, many teachers may still be trying to find their ‘groove’ in terms of facilitating lessons that motivate their students to keep showing up – physically, virtually, and mentally.*

Whether you are a seasoned teacher with years of experience under your belt, or a beginning teacher who is trying to figure out what works and what works better, the ARCS model of instructional design is worth referencing as you plan your curriculum. The ARCS model, developed by American educational psychologist John Keller who felt that instructional models of his time relied too heavily on external stimuli, focuses on engaging learners by fostering internal motivation and the sense of accomplishment that produces. Let’s take a closer look at how you can incorporate aspects of the ARCS model as you plan your (amazing) lessons.


Engage students through the element of surprise or presenting conflict. This will spark and hold their interest, especially if they are actively involved. By presenting with and expecting student use of a variety of media, student enthusiasm grows and creative juices flow!


  • STEM: Pose a real-world problem that students have to solve, such as creating more eco-friendly areas in their neighborhood or community. Students will be expected to plan and design the areas with accurate data to support the change and measurements of the possible area.
  • Language Arts & Social Studies: Role play a current issue – local, state, country – that is affecting them or people they know. Integrate brainstorming, creative writing, collaboration, and time management.


By using analogies, examples, language, and stories that students can relate to, they will better connect to the information. When students see and feel that content relates to them and their experiences, their motivation is increased because they will see the learning as applicable to their own lives.


  • Math & Social Studies: Create a household budget and track expenses for a week (or longer). Discuss the difference between Needs and Wants and have students create a set of connected story problems related to budgeting.
  • STEM: Research different STEM careers (accountant, computer programmer, mechanical engineer, etc.) and have students create a visual summary of their research (infographic, slide presentation, video).


Students should feel and believe that they can apply new knowledge and skills learned. Goal setting and scaffolding certainly come in to play, giving students a sense of ownership over what they’re learning. Thoughtfully designed guidance (class-created rubric, lesson objectives posted clearly) and consistent feedback that helps students see their progress is critical.


  • Language Arts: As a class, develop a rubric for an upcoming writing activity that is concise and easy-to-understand. Try not to overwhelm students with the minutiae of a standard or set of standards that the students are trying to meet. Focus on key, achievable goals.
  • STEM: Challenge students to ‘think outside the box’ (or classroom walls) by researching a problem relevant to them and designing solutions that they can actually apply now.
  • All Subjects: Provide opportunities for students to show evidence of learning through a variety of means versus the traditional essay, worksheet, or test. This can include charts, collages, dioramas, infographics, screen casts, shadow boxes, slide presentations, and videos. By giving students choice on how to show their learning, they will start to discover who they are as learners and individuals.


Ultimately, students should feel proud about what they’ve accomplished and achieved. Much of this satisfaction comes from their seeing the relevance of what they’ve learned, how it’s helped them to grow as learners and problem solvers, and the consistent and effective feedback they’ve received. Satisfaction can also lead to a desire to continue learning and putting in the same or more effort in new learning experiences.


  • STEM: After working through an experiment or designing a solution, have students apply their process to a new challenge. They can compare processes, identify what worked and what needs improvement, and share discoveries with peers.
  • All Subjects: Create post-unit feedback surveys so that students can share their thoughts on the activities they experienced. This can foster feelings of belonging and being a contributor to instructional plans. Every person – teacher, student, parent – could benefit from these types of surveys, strengthening relationships and class community.


As with anything new, take small, manageable steps when incorporating elements of ARCS into your plans. Take some time to check out what other teachers have done and how these components helped to change their practice and their students’ view of learning. It’s never too late to boost motivation, including yours.


*For more on social-emotional learning, read these blogs:

Supporting Social Emotional Learning in Remote and Hybrid Classrooms

Social-Emotional Learning at Home


To learn more about Boxlight education technology solutions, including MimioStudio™ classroom software and MimioSTEM solutions, please explore boxlight.com.

Topics: Student Engagement, tips for teachers, student learning


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