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In this mid-May issue, we’re chatting about motivation! Specifically, we’re asking:

  • Are there differences in learner motivation after using a mobile AR?
  • Do different educational modes impact learning motivation?

Note: LSW is taking a break next week, as we're going to be at the ATD conference! Stop by the Intellum booth to chat 😊

AR & Learning Motivation

Augmented reality (AR) combines both reality and virtual components (for more on types of virtual realities, see Milgram & Kishino’s reality-virtuality continuum). AR is now widely accessible, considering mobile phones are able to run it - think Pokémon GO!

While AR is 10/10, A++ fun (in my opinion) - it has important implications for education as well. AR can provide “highly interactive experiences and can generate authentic learner activity, interactivity, and a high level of realism” (Khan et al., 2019). Considering the unique experiences that AR can provide, researchers wondered whether an AR mobile application would increase learning motivation (Khan et al., 2019).

The researchers leaned on Keller’s ARCS model of motivation, which suggests to foster motivation, a learning mechanism must: 1. attract the attention and interest of the learner, 2. be relevant to the learner (or explain why it is important), 3. provide the learner with learning and success expectations (i.e., instill confidence), and 4. give the learner a sense of satisfaction after! The AR for this research was an Anatomy 4D mobile application, which I thought was *very cool* (see image; Khan et al., 2019).

(Khan et al., 2019)

Learners completed a pre-usage and post-usage questionnaire touching on the ARCS components - attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction. They also completed an open-ended online interview for more qualitative insights (Khan et al., 2019).

Overall, the results illustrated that learners increased in motivation by 14% after using the Anatomy AR! Looking at the individual components, attention (31%), confidence (11%), and satisfaction (13%) all significantly increased (Khan et al., 2019). Thus, utilizing a mobile AR educational tool did improve learning motivation!

Future research should include a control group (a “no-AR” group; this was not doable for this particular study) and continue to expand on topics to evaluate any potential differences.

Key Takeaway(s): Augmented reality is becoming much more accessible to the general public, due to mobile phone technology. Khan et al. (2019) illustrated that AR is a viable educational tool to improve learning motivation, particularly for anatomy!

Read More (Open): Khan, T., Johnston, K., & Ophoff, J. (2019). The Impact of an Augmented Reality Application on Learning Motivation of Students. Advances in Human-Computer Interaction.

"Although three different learning modalities were available, the realism was that in all learning activities, intrinsic motivation was an unavoidable paradigm that evokes and sustains effective learning, and as a result, positive job performance. In other words, a reciprocal relationship between motivation and achievement must be present to achieve and ensure continued success.” - De Matas & Keegan (2020)

Intrinsic Motivation & Voluntary Learning

Our second study today is one that caught my attention after chatting with a reader about case studies! A pair of researchers from the US Veterans Health Administration sought to understand how annual education allotments, no-cost online education/training tools, and mandatory training impacted employee learning (De Matas & Keegan, 2020). Specifically, the aims of the study were:

  • Aim 1: “To discern whether the provision of an annual education allotment impacted employees’ learning.”
  • Aim 2: “To discern whether availability of a no-cost online education and training tool promoted voluntary learning and professional development.”
  • Aim 3: “To evaluate whether informal but mandatory workplace trainings promoted active performance-based learning and self-development.”

These three programs, echoed by the aims, were carried out over a period of four years (De Matas & Keegan, 2020).

The results showed a lower participation rate than expected. For instance, the annual education allotment, which the authors characterize as “the most versatile option” considering it is no-cost and included both job and higher education courses, saw the highest participation rate at 65% (De Matas & Keegan, 2020). While there were no significant correlations between age or gender, employees with higher education and those between ages 40-54 were “more frequent users of the education allotment” (De Matas & Keegan, 2020).

Regarding the no-cost online training, only 41% of employees actually utilized this. The findings from the first two aims are interesting because, as the authors point out, “the only prerequisite to participation was intrinsic motivation and commitment to self-improvement” (De Matas & Keegan, 2020). Lastly, the mandatory training illustrated that employees were lacking motivation due to “being unaware of self-improvement needs.” Further, when employees did not perceive direct benefits (such as a promotion) from the training, doing the training was considered “unreasonable and prohibitive” (De Matas & Keegan, 2020).

Although the data was, well, seemingly less than ideal - great qualitative information was gained to improve training and motivation. Specifically, being able to understand, or “positively reshape,” training situations depends on motivation and commitment - which seems to occur “regardless of the tools provided” (De Matas & Keegan, 2020).

Key Takeaway(s): Based on this case study, providing a multitude of learning options isn’t particularly helpful for *most* employees if intrinsic motivation is lacking. Employees illustrating intrinsic motivation are the ones that take advantage of learning opportunities, which is excellent! Just be sure to focus on building employee motivation if the goal is higher participation.

Read More (Open): De Matas, S. S., & Keegan, B. P. (2020). A Case Study on Adult and Workplace Learning. International Journal of Education and Management Engineering.

Pets of Learning Science Weekly

Thanks for coming through with some beautiful fur-babies, fam! Keep them coming 💪

Reader Philip V. shared his lovely little dude with us this week! Meet Burrito, a “small, older, mixed-breed dog. As one might expect from a burrito, he likes to roll himself up tight (in this picture, in a blanket). And now that he’s a bit blind and deaf, he only occasionally barks at mail and other delivery people, and then only once they have completed their mission and are on their way back to the vehicle.” I’m also a big fan of rolling up in my blankets, so I get you, Burrito 🌯

Send us your pet pics at

Wondering why we’re including animal photos in a learning science newsletter? It may seem weird, we admit. But we’re banking on the baby schema effect and the “power of Kawaii.” So, send us your cute pet pics -- you’re helping us all learn better!

The LSW Crew

Learning Science Weekly is written and edited by Katie Erhardt, Ph.D.

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