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Learner Engagement and Motivation to Learn Assessment and Monitoring System


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Human Systems 

OBJECTIVE: Develop metrics and a system to persistently and unobtrusively assess and track learner engagement and motivation in and across learning situations and contexts. 

DESCRIPTION: Over the past several years, the prevalence of gaming approaches and environments in training and educational settings has increase substantially. One of the underlying assumptions is that gaming environments are engaging and motivating and as such they draw learners into the content more directly. This more direct involvement is supposed to lead to improved learning, retention, and transfer although there is little compelling evidence to support this assumption. However, measures and metrics for learning involvement and motivation in learning contexts vary widely in their construct orientation and the underlying multi-trait multi-method nature of the measures themselves. Given that there is a continued interest in improving contexts for learning so that they are of greater interest to learners in context, this effort will conduct research to develop construct valid measures and will develop and demonstrate an assessment and monitoring system for learners in education and training contexts. For this effort, a learning environment that is focused on one of the following contexts is of primary interest: maintenance training, space operations, unmanned aircraft operations or medical care. Successful offerors are permitted to use an environment of their choice but a focus in one of the contexts identified above is preferred to constrain the application space to one of relevance and interest to the USAF. A successful proposal will include: 1) The identification of key attributes of learner involvement, engagement, and motivation to learn and the development of subjective and objective approaches to capturing these key attributes in learners in learning contexts of interest. 2) Development and validation of a taxonomy that relates the key engagement and motivation attributes with learning environment and content presentation variables with lesser and more effective training and education outcomes. 3) Creation and validation of the measures and a measurement system that can be used to routinely, and as unobtrusively as possible, assess engagement in learning and motivation to learn. 4) Conducting comparative studies evaluating different environment and content characteristics and their impact on learner engagement and motivation. Results from these studies shall be used to revise the metrics and the assessment and monitoring system as well as to develop data driven recommendations for environment and content design and delivery. 

PHASE I: Phase I will result in the identification of the key indicators and attributes of engagement and motivation to learn and any metrics identified for assessment and tracking in the environment of choice. Identify specific learning strategies that have been used to promote engagement and motivation to learn in education and training contexts similar to the one of choice. A draft specification and design for an assessment system will be produced. 

PHASE II: Develop and validate a data collection, analysis and assessment system for learner engagement and motivation to learn. Identify and develop criterion tasks and at least one environment of choice in which the system can be used, evaluated, refined and validated. Instructional strategies and learning environment design characteristics will be identified and embedded in the criterion tasks. Provide an integrated system for use in future operational educational and training environments such as those identified in the topic description above. 

PHASE III: The phase III effort will integrate the system developed during phase II into representative operationally relevant learning environments utilized by ACC or AETC to demonstrate the system in real-time. The results will be quantified and documented. The final integration will be demonstrated. 


1. Brophy, J. (1983). Conceptualizing student motivation. Educational Psychologist, 18, 200-215.

2. Cannon-Bowers, J., & Bowers, C. (2010). Synthetic learning environments: On developing a science of simulation, games, and virtual worlds for training. In. S. W. J. Kozlowski & E. Salas (Eds.), Learning, training, and development in organizations (pp. 229-261). New York: Routledge.

3. Colquitt, J. A., LePine, J. A., & Noe, R. A. (2000). Toward an integrative theory of training motivation: A meta-analytic path analysis of 20 years of research. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85, 678 707.

4. Covington, M. (2000). Goal theory, motivation, and school achievement: an integrative review. Annual Review of Psychology, 51, 171-200.

5. Pintrich, P.R., & De Groot, E.V. (1990). Motivational and self-regulated learning components of classroom academic performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82(1): 33-40.


KEYWORDS: Student Engagement, Motivation, Training, Simulation, Learning, Learner Involvement Assessment 

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