Re: Time Continuum Model of Motivation vs. ARCS Model

A response to Chapter 9, “Motivation, Volition, and Performance,” in Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology


Do additional research on Wlodkowski’s Time Continuum Model of Motivation and then describe two or more situations in which his model would provide useful guidance.  When it is time to prepare a list of specific motivational tactics to use in a given situation, how would the decision-making process be different with the ARCS model than with Wlodkowski’s time-continuum model.  Hint: With the ARCS model, what is the process for determining what motivational tactics are appropriate.


In Wlodkowski’s Time Continuum Model of Motivation, planning is essential in order to select the best motivational tactics for a lecture or learning activity. To have the greatest impact, instruction must be designed with consideration of three particular points in a learning sequence—the beginning, middle, and end. At these times in a lecture or learning activity, specific strategies for motivation are employed to have the most impact: “attitude and needs strategies are most relevant at the beginning of an activity, stimulation and affect strategies during the activity, and competence and reinforcement strategies when ending the activity” (Hodges, 2004, p. 3). In order to design the most beneficial learning experience, the appropriate motivational strategies should be selected and planned in advance to ensure variety, good preparation, and timing (Lowery, 1992, p. 34).

The Time Continuum Model is focused on meeting the needs of the learner during each particular phase of an instructional event—the beginning, during, and end (Hodges, 2004, p. 3). Keller’s ARCS Model of Motivational Design, where ARCS is an acronym for Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction, is a contrast to the Time Continuum Model. ARCS is based on analysis of the situation—the course, the teacher, and the students—and number and types of motivational strategies are selected to address the needs of the audience (Keller & Deimann, 2017, p. 82). “The primary difference in the application of Keller’s and Wlodkowski’s strategies is that Keller performs the analysis of his audience before designing motivation…[so it can have] a better fit for the learners. On the other hand, Wlodkowski does not require an implicit stage of audience analysis, thus allowing the motivation to fit the instruction” (Lowery & Young, 1992, p. 41).

Time Continuum Model of Motivation, Example 1: It is the purpose of dental hygiene education to educate learner’s, who have little to no background in the field of healthcare, so that after two years of specialized training, they will be equipped to enter the dental hygiene profession as caregivers. One important concept that all dental professionals must grasp is the nature of the chain of infection. During every instance of patient care, the potential for cross contamination of the dental operatory and for contamination of the dental operator is extremely high. At the beginning of their first semester, long before they enter the clinical facilities, first year dental hygiene students are given a lecture on the chain of asepsis, the measures needed to protect themselves and patients from contamination. Because there is little to no margin for error in implementing the chain of asepsis, students often shown a particular video at the beginning of instruction, called, “If Saliva Were Red” (O’Keefe, 2015). In this film, a patient is given a medication to stain the saliva in the mouth. As the dentist and his assistant provide routine dental care, the film captures the red liquid being carried throughout the operatory—on various surfaces, on the patient, and on both dental professionals. This short film is legendary in dental hygiene education for its shock value. Students are repulsed and revolted, which creates a very memorable message about the significance of proper aseptic technique. This important lecture is typically considered to be a very boring topic, but showing this video at the beginning makes students much more attentive to the minute details of infection control.

The placement of this film in the lecture, and in the curriculum, is an application of the Time Continuum Model of Motivation, by Wlodkowski, who advocates using the time continuum of instruction as a guide for selection of particular motivational strategies. In this case, placement of the film at the beginning is a strategy to create a positive attitude toward an unpopular topic. In addition, this is an appeal to the feelings of the learner in order to create a positive attitude toward the instruction and to demonstrate the value of learning the material (Lowery & Young, 1992, p. 32; Brophy, 2010).

Time Continuum Model of Motivation, Example 2: Dental hygiene students receive hundreds of hours of instruction pertaining to various disciplines within the field of dentistry. The dental radiology course is both didactic and clinical in nature. Students are more apt to attend to the clinical instruction since they see direct application to patient care. The didactic portion can be more difficult in terms of engaging learners, but the content is extremely important in relation to passing the Dental Hygiene National Board examination, which allows students to apply for a state or regional license to practice dental hygiene.

The following is an real-life example of the use of a stimulation strategy to engage waning attention, in the middle of a lecture full of complicated and difficult concepts: During a particularly tedious lesson on the principles of shadow casting, Dr. Sean Hubar, a dead-wringer for Woody Allen, unexpectedly injected humor with a prop in order to explain the concept “penumbra” and “object to film distance.” Dr. Hubar retrieved a gigantic foam cowboy hat from below the slide carousel and placed it on his head. As he marched toward the screen, amidst uproarious laughter, the shadow that he and his cowboy hat cast became both smaller and darker, with more distinct edges. The lesson was, the shorter the distance between the object (hat) and the screen (or between the tooth and the x-ray film), the more accurate and clear the shadow (or dental radiograph) becomes. Since the middle of a lecture can be a time when students disengage and lose motivation, Wlodkowski suggests that this is the optimal time to employ a stimulation strategy such as using humor, spontaneity, and props (Brophy, 2010, p. 384).

Brophy, J. E. (2010). Motivating students to learn. New York: Routledge. Retrieved from

Francom, G., & Reeves T.C. (2010) John M. Keller: Significant contributor to the field of educational technology. [PDF file]. Educational Technology 50(3), 56-58. Retrieved from

Hodges, C. (2004). Designing to motivate: Motivational techniques to incorporate in e-learning experiences. [PDF file]. The Journal of Interactive Online Learning. 2(3). Retrieved from

Keller, J. M. (1987). Development and use of the ARCS model of motivational design. [PDF file]. Journal of Instructional Development, 10(3), 2-10. Retrieved from

Keller, J. M. (n.d.). ARCS Design Process. Retrieved September 07, 2017, from

Keller, J.M. & Deimann, M. (2017). Motivation, volition and performance. In Reiser & Dempsey (Eds.), Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (pp. 259-228). New York, NY: Pearson.

Longfield, J. (2015). Integrate motivation planning into lesson planning. Teaching Academy, 34.

Lowery, B., & Young, D. (1992). Designing motivational instruction for developmental education. Research and Teaching in Developmental Education, 9(1), 29-44. Retrieved from

O’Keefe, J. [Dr. John O’Keefe]. (2015, March 4). If Saliva Were Red from OSAP [Video file]. Retrieved from