Keller’s and Wlodkowski’s Models in Adult Learning

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Scientific progress, technological advancements, sociopolitical transformations of the world community, growing competitiveness in all businesses and industries, and increasing cross-cultural interactions all together contribute to expanding requirements for professionals’ level of expertise. Education is increasingly perceived as a service and means of raising the social status and achieving financial security, prestige, and success.

Given a pivotal role that education plays in human life, while teaching adults, educators should utilize a variety of methods in order to increase adult learners’ motivation and enhance their knowledge acquisition (Dahalan, Hasan, Hassan, Zakaria, & Noor, 2014; Di Serio, Ibáñez, & Kloos, 2014; Alajlan, 2015). Keller’s ARCS model and Wlodkowski’s approach to motivation are the two strategies that ensure adults’ compelling learning.

While teaching adult learners, educators should take into consideration their psychological, age, social, and cultural peculiarities. The article “Engaging Students On-line: Does Gender Matter in Adoption of Learning Material Design?” (Dahalan et al., 2014) illuminates educational and motivational prospects of the ARCS model designed by John M. Keller. The abbreviation “ARCS” stands for the motivational concepts of attention (A), relevance (R), confidence (C), and satisfaction (S).

Every concept encompasses a wide spectrum of motivational strategies that allow gaining and sustaining adult learners’ attention to the material taught (Dahalan et al., 2014). Dahalan et al. (2014) emphasize the applicability of Keller’s model under current conditions of rapid technological development and the dominance of the Internet as an educational medium. Keller’s ARCS model is instrumental in distance learning, including e-learning, hybrid learning, on-line learning, technology-assisted learning, blended learning, mobile learning, as well as “traditional classroom instruction” (Dahalan et al., 2014, p. 413).

The motivational potential of Keller’s ARCS model originates from solid theoretical grounds. According to Dahalan et al. (2014), Keller’s approach “is based on macro theory of motivation and instructional design which grounded in expectancy value theory derived from the works of Tolman (1932) and Lewin (1938)” (p. 416). From the psychological perspective, a motive is a stimulus that activates specific endeavors, maintains, supports, and guides them.

Adult learners are motivated to dedicate their efforts to those educational activities that are associated with ample opportunities for producing desired outcomes or relevant socioeconomic rewards. The research conducted by Dahalan et al. (2014) indicates that the incorporation of motivation strategies designed by Keller into the education process improves distance learning outcomes (p. 418).

Another approach to motivating adult learners is discussed in the publication “Appling Andragogy Theory in Photoshop Training Programs” (Alajlan, 2015). Wlodkowski’s concept of five pillars of motivation (intertwined experience, empathy, enthusiasm, clarity, and cultural responsiveness) is identified as a constituent of andragogy (Alajlan, 2015, p. 152). As the theory focused on adult learning and teaching, andragogy seeks beneficial solutions to the organization of educational processes that can ensure the harmonious development of personality.

The Andragogical Model of teaching considers “the learners’ experience as a resource of learning, and it should be the center of the classroom, rather than just the teacher’s experience” (Alajlan, 2015, p. 153). Andragogy helps educators understand what they should do or change in order to meet learning needs of adults and increase their motivation. Exploring the application of andragogy-related methods in Photoshop training programs, Alajlan (2015) asserts that the involvement of Wlodkowski’s concept in teaching strategies increases the internal motivation of adult learners (p. 153). Also, the effectiveness of the concept of five pillars of motivation in adult education is asserted by Di Serio et al. (2014, p. 586).

Socioeconomic transformations have significant impacts on adult individuals’ value orientation and decisions to continue education. Today’s growing importance of learning foreign languages is stipulated by the current trends in our globalized society. My decision to learn the Chinese language and pertinacious efforts were initially predetermined by my internal motivation. In the very beginning of the course, I felt extremely limited in means to express my opinion, discuss certain themes, and simply contact my fellow students in Chinese.

However, applying the methodological toolkit of task-based language teaching (TBLT) and the ARCS-based motivational strategies, our teacher facilitated the process of learning. Specifically, my self-confidence increased due to such teaching methods as learning in student-led groups, student dyads, and teacher-led groups. Partnership relationships and amicable attitudes to each other significantly strengthened, promoting free interactions. Our tiered assignments and tasks allowed using and developing our prior knowledge, creative abilities, and readiness to learn.

Assessing my experience in learning Chinese, I would use such a motivational strategy recommended by Keller as humor to boost motivation. It would evoke involuntary interest and induce motivation. Also, by developing strategies aimed at satisfying students’ learning needs, I would take into consideration their initial capacities, personal goals, and individual abilities. In accordance with Keller’s motivational strategy of participation, I would incorporate group and pair work into the learning environment; such an approach would promote their engagement in all activities and development of language skills adjusted to demands of real-life situations.

In conclusion, the rapid spread of knowledge via scientific, research, educational, or other intellectual interchange is a peculiar characteristic of the world community today. Competencies, knowledge, well-developed skills, and qualifications are the universal currency of contemporary globalized economies. Thus, educators should select and utilize teaching strategies effective in motivating others and congruent with changing requirements for proficiency levels.


Alajlan, A. S. (2015). Appling andragogy theory in Photoshop training programs. Journal of Education and Practice, 6(25), 150-154.

Dahalan, N., Hasan, H., Hassan, F., Zakaria, Z., & Noor, W. A. (2014). Engaging students on-line: Does gender matter in adoption of learning material design? World Journal on Educational Technology, 5(3), 413-419.

Di Serio, Á., Ibáñez, M. B., & Kloos, C. D. (2014). Impact of an augmented reality system on students’ motivation for a visual art course. Computers & Education, 68, 586-596.

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ChalkyPapers. "Keller’s and Wlodkowski’s Models in Adult Learning." July 24, 2022.