Motivation and Behaviour

I am intrigued by the adoption of technology for learning. In my reading I came across the Technology Adoption Model (TAM) as proposed by Davis in 1989. Park explains Davis’ model as below;

“Two cognitive beliefs are posited by TAM: perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use. According to TAM, one’s actual use of a technology system is influenced directly or indirectly by the user’s behavioural intentions, attitude, perceived usefulness of the system, and perceived ease of the system.” (Park, 2009)

In motivating learners it is vital that we appease at least two of these areas of TAM with system design, namely perceived usefulness of the system and perceived ease of the system. If we can make a course site easy to use, relevant and useful to our learners we can then motivate them to adopt the system, from a technical standpoint at least. This can be done through user experience design and ensuring that items are on-hand for learners.

More importantly we need to appeal to the behavioural intentions and attitudes of our learners to encourage their adoption of blended and online learning.  Simpson (2013)  argues that “distance learners are particularly vulnerable to loss of motivation.” . Simpson also proposes that we can motivate learners by ensuring that they can say “I’m convinced this particular learning is exactly right for me” (Simpson, 2013, pp.78).

In my work I deal with compliance training for a business. The big question comes in “How can we make learners want to take compliance training?” How can we motivate them to engage with elearning that they have to do from a legal and ethical point of view? How can we get them to say that the training is right for them?

I have explained this before in other forums, but I believe that the use of “Authentic activities” is key to motivating learners to engage with elearning. Oliver et al’s (2006, pp.504) definition that “Authentic activities have real-world relevance” provides an excellent basis for motivating learners to see the relevance of their learning thus helping to shape their behavioural intentions and attitude.

Our adapted framework allows us to address some of the questions that unmotivated learners may have. I have adapted this from a JISC framework (2012);

  1. We answer the question “Why do I need to learn this?” – the most common question asked by our learners.
  2. We answer the question “What do I need to know?” – this is where we deliver any essential theory within the pharmacy context.
  3. We answer the question “How do I use this in my job?” – here we focus on the patients that may come into the pharmacy and how to offer advice.
  4. Practice – we provide a pharmacy-based scenario to allow the staff to try different responses on a patient and gauge reaction, this is usually done through an articulate storyline simulation. We have also performed face-to-face role-play activities with newly qualified pharmacists.
  5. Closure and Evaluation – The practice is reviewed and fed-back upon. This can then be written up as CPD or applied in the pharmacy.

This five-stage system allows us to address the burning questions that learners may have early on in a training context. We can then focus on embedding and applying the skills required for the job.

Whilst not entirely perfect (we still need to do some work to increase participation and compliance) I believe that this is a good launching point for discussions about motivating our learners to address the two more difficult aspects of TAM within an elearning context.


JISC, (2016), “Constructing the Learning Framework”, JISC Netskills

Oliver, R., Herrington, J., Thomas, R., (2006) “Chapter 36: Creating authentic learning environments through blended learning approaches” from Bonk, C., Graham, C, The handbook of blended learning: global perspectives, local designs pp.502-515, San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Park, S. Y. (2009). An Analysis of the Technology Acceptance Model in Understanding University Students’ Behavioral Intention to Use e-Learning. Educational Technology & Society, 12 (3), 150–162.

Simpson, Ormond. 2013., Supporting Students for Success in Online and Distance Education. [online]. Routledge. Available from:<> 23 February 2017


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