Factors that impact students’ motivation in an online course: Using the MUSIC model of academic motivation

Brett D. Jones, Joan Monahan Watson, Lee Rakes, Sehmuz Akalin


The aim of this study was to examine the factors that motivate students in large online courses. Specifically, the purposes were: (a) to document how highly men and women rated motivational beliefs in a large online course; (b) to determine why men and women rated their motivational beliefs the way in which they did; and (c) to provide recommendations for how to intentionally design online courses to motivate students. Using a mixed methods design, we used a questionnaire to assess undergraduate students’ perceptions of the components of the MUSIC Model of Academic Motivation (i.e., eMpowerment, Usefulness, Success, Interest, and Caring) in an online course and their suggestions for changing the course. Overall, men and women provided high ratings for their motivational beliefs in the course. The suggestions students provided for changing the course were similar for both sexes and revealed a preference for instructional strategies that were consistent with the tenets of the MUSIC Model of Academic Motivation, including: offering more and/or varied assessments, providing interactive activities, including videos and/or video lectures, and offering face-toface meetings. Other suggestions for improving the online course design are provided.


motivation; MUSIC Model of Academic Motivation; online teaching; engagement; student perceptions

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