Next Offered: Fall 2020 semester.

This course explores how to increase student motivation and engagement by learning from the best educational research evidence available. This home page serves as the course syllabus and describes the main issues and expectations of the course.

The first half of the course provides readings that describe the history of research into intrinsic motivation. These ideas and readings are important for understanding how motivational research has evolved. Th second half of the course explores topics that have largely been the focus of newer research (i.e. the last 20 years).

The Modules

I may change the topics for the modules as we progress: although this likely impacts only the last two modules. Here’s the current list of modules and dates:

  1. Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
  2. Ability
  3. Goals
  4. Flow
  5. Self-Determination
  6. Interest
  7. Future-Time Perspective
  8. Student-Determined Module 1
  9. Student-Determined Module 2

There are two student-determined modules at the end of the course. That’s right! Groups will compile a set of readings to be shared with everyone. There should be 4 to 5 readings. They should revolve around some sort of theme. They should be research, or summaries of research, or syntheses of research (e.g. Educational Psychologist publishes syntheses of research). You can include a video or two or three if you want. All shared articles need to have been published in the last 5 years.


This website will be located at: However the website will not be ready, even if draft form, until about August 1, 2020. The course website serves several purposes including:

  • Providing a way to download/view all learning materials
  • Links to essential software and other resources
  • An easy way for all of us to interact

Learning Outcomes

In this course students will …

  1. Demonstrate reflective thinking by thoughtfully responding to the learning materials (both readings and presentations) via written reflections for each class module.
  2. Demonstrate synthesized thinking by creating a series of progressive mind maps that show the motivational theories, their connections to one another, and implications for educational practice.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to identify an interesting area of motivational research (not covered in the regular course modules) and transform it into a learning module for all students.


These reflections should include what you learned (i.e. what stood out the most), what are potential connections to your practice, and any confusions/curiosities that remain after using the learning materials. Your reflections should be 300 or more words in length.

Mind Maps

For each module you’ll create a mind map. Unlike a course like Cognition the topic does not change from module to module. Each topic looks at some aspect of motivation. So, in the end, your mind mapping will start with Module 2 but will build upon that mind map to explain and structure subsequent research you learn about.

Of course you may decide your original mind map structure is rubbish at some point and radically re-organize it. That’s fine. But at the end of the course you should end up with a mind map that integrates all the areas we have explored in the course.

Construct a Module

There are a variety of ways to dig deeper into the subject of motivation. But in this course the approach taken is to have each of you create a learning module for the rest of us! You’ll write your content in markdown (naturally) and that will allow me to very easily create your learning module page.

What goes into a module? It can take various forms but I suggest the following components would be in almost every module:

  1. Introduction or Overview
  2. Research Readings
  3. Videos
  4. Assignments

Obviously there will be cases where no videos exist. And other cases where other forms of learning materials would work better. But it needs to be a topic or focus that is research based.

Your assignments could include a variety of things. However I will require that each module include a reflection assignment and a mind mapping assignment.

Given those caveats you choose the theme or topic. You choose the readings. You create the assignments.

Learning Materials

There are several different learning materials you’ll be using in this course. The most common learning materials are described below.

Research Articles

Research articles will be your primary reading materials in this course. They will come in the form of PDFs that you can either print out or read via computer or tablet. All PDFs are provided by our library and are free.


You will use several video and audio presentations. Some of these will be combined with PDF handouts. Most of the videos are in either a Vimeo or YouTube format. All of the multimedia presentations can be viewed at this course website.

The audio presentations were created by myself will be presented in an audio playlist format. This is a web-driven audio presentation that chunks the presentation into smaller bite-sized chapters. Such a format is quite useful when the presentations are 20 to 80 minutes long.