Blended and online courses can require more student self-regulation than traditional in-person courses. Instructors and course designers can support student motivation and self-regulation in a variety of ways, such as by including motivational strategies in the course materials. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between the following three factors: the motivational strategies employed in the online course materials of a blended German language course, student engagement in the course, and student usage of the course materials. Selected course activities were analyzed using a checklist based on Keller's ARCS (Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction) model for motivational design to identify the motivational strategies that were present. At the end of each unit, students completed surveys about their level of engagement with the online portions of the blended course and their perceptions of the online activities. At the end of the semester, data about student usage of the online activities was collected from the Canvas Learning Management System. The results of this study show that a wide range of motivational strategies are used in the online materials of this course and that students were highly engaged in this course. Students found the grammar and vocabulary activities to be the most motivating and the most useful for their language learning. The number of Attention strategies in an activity was strongly correlated with how often students used the activity, and the number of Attention strategies also predicted how often students would use the activities, likely because Attention strategies increase ease of use of the materials and encourage student curiosity. The number of Satisfaction strategies in an activity predicted how motivating students would find the activity, likely because Satisfaction strategies allowed students to use their new skills in realistic contexts and experience intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. There was a strong correlation between how motivating students found an activity and how useful they found the activity for their language learning. Including more motivational strategies, particularly Attention and Satisfaction strategies, can enhance the student experience and increase student motivation; however, students are most likely to be motivated by activities that they find useful for their language learning.



College and Department

Humanities; Center for Language Studies



Date Submitted


Document Type





language teaching, motivation, motivational strategies, student engagement, ARCS model, blended learning, online learning, course design