MUSIC Model of Motivation

Motivation ImageAll educators know that it is important to motivate students. No matter how exciting or necessary the material, students must be motivated to learn, study, and achieve.

Dr. Brett Jones, a professor of education at Virginia Tech, has studied what motivates students most. In response, he developed the MUSIC Model of Academic Motivation. MUSIC is an acronym for: eMpowerment, Usefulness, Success, Interest, and Caring.

Though this model primarily focuses on in-classroom instruction, Dr. Jones has developed the theory to include motivation in an online setting. Below is a summary of how each of the five components of the MUSIC Model of Academic Motivation can be applied in online education:

eMpowerment – Students need to feel some sort of ownership over their work and have the ability to make their own choices. In an online setting, this could include allowing students to choose what sort of assessments they would like to complete or choosing their own paper topic.

Useful – Students need to know that the subject material is useful and practical. Therefore, instructors must reassure them through words and examples that this is the case. Online assignments should demonstrate a subject’s usefulness. Professors can take advantage of the online medium and teach with real-word examples and articles.

Successful – Students need to know that if they perform what is asked of them then they will succeed in in the course. Instructors need to appropriately convey expectations and ensure that each assignment and assessment is manageable and will help the students. It is also very important, especially online, for professors to provide constant feedback on students’ work and efforts.

Interest – Students have to be interested in the subject material. One of the most effective ways to engender this interest is to teach in different manners. Professors can try to vary the way they teach material online and incorporate extra, stimulating material into the curriculum.

Caring – Students need to know that their instructors care about them on an academic and personal level. This can be particular challenge in an online environment because there is no face-to-face contact. Therefore, professors need to ensure that all correspondences relay their concern for their students and to take an interest in their students’ lives. They should respect and appreciate students’ academic achievements and personalities.


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