Facilitating learning in practice
Facilitating learning in practice

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Facilitating learning in practice

3 The mentoring relationship and motivation

A recent study by Foster et al. (2014) identified that, according to students, the most frequently valued behaviours in the mentoring relationship are teaching and explaining. Clearly, these two interrelated activities contribute to students’ learning in practice, but are most likely to have a positive effect when the student feels motivated to learn. Understanding the factors that help to stimulate and maintain this motivation will influence the way in which you approach your teaching.

A well-established, tried and tested model of learning motivation is the Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction (ARCS) model (Keller, 2008).

Keller first proposed his holistic theory of motivation to learn in 1983. His comprehensive review and synthesis of motivational literature led him to identify four conditions that need to be in place for a student to be motivated to learn:

  • The learner’s curiosity must be aroused, so therefore the learner gives Attention to the situation.
  • The learner must recognise the Relevance of the situation in terms of achieving desired goals.
  • The learner must feel Confidence that the required learning is achievable.
  • The learner must believe that because personal incentives will be met, Satisfaction will result.

His theory has become represented by the ARCS model of motivation to learn.

Activity 4 The principles of the ARCS model of motivation to learn 

Allow 20 minutes
  1. Watch the video presentation from YouTube by Professor Lisa Johnson, which explains the principles of the ARCS model. Once you’ve watched the video, you can use the model’s principles to plan a learning opportunity for your students.
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  1. Download the ‘ARCS model of motivation to learn’ template [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   and read through our examples on the template. Then use the ‘Your example’ column to identify a learning opportunity that commonly occurs in your own workplace environment around which to develop your own strategies for delivering a teaching session that is likely to motivate students to learn and achieve competence in practice. Write down your chosen strategies in the final column. If you can’t identify anything from your own work environment, think about other areas of your life and how you might encourage others to learn.


The challenge with teaching and learning in practice settings is that specific learning opportunities are difficult to forward-plan and teaching often takes place spontaneously, within the context of that moment in time. However, by thinking through activities that frequently take place within your practice environment, you can develop a range of motivation strategies that you can use when a day-to-day activity also becomes a learning opportunity for your student.

Whilst the ARCS model focuses specifically on the strategies that motivate learners to engage and achieve, there are other useful educational models that combine some of these strategies with other educational principles (Gagné, 1985). Thomas (2012) provides an excellent example of the practical application of Gagné’s ‘nine events of instruction model’, so is well worth reading if you can access a copy.


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