Enhancing motivation with the "virtual" supervisory role: A randomized trial Approaches to teaching and learning

Majken T. Wingo, Kris G. Thomas, Warren G. Thompson, David A. Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: We aimed to explore the influence of a motivationally-enhanced instructional design on motivation to learn and knowledge, hypothesizing that outcomes would be higher for the enhanced instructional format. Methods: Medicine residents completed four online learning modules on primary care topics. Using a crossover design, learners were randomized to receive two standard and two motivationally-enhanced learning modules. Both formats had self-assessment questions, but the enhanced format questions were framed to place learners in a supervisory/teaching role. Learners received a baseline motivation questionnaire, a short motivation survey before and after each module, and a knowledge posttest. Results: One hundred twenty seven residents were randomized. 123 residents (97%) completed at least one knowledge posttest and 119 (94%) completed all four posttests. Across all modules, a one-point increase in the pretest short motivation survey was associated with a 2.1-point increase in posttest knowledge. The change in motivation was significantly higher for the motivationally enhanced format (standard mean change -0.01, enhanced mean change +0.09, difference∈=∈0.10, CI 0.001 to 0.19; p∈=∈0.048). Mean posttest knowledge score was similar (standard mean 72.8, enhanced mean 73.0, difference∈=∈0.2, CI -1.9 to 2.1; p∈=∈0.90). Conclusions: The motivationally enhanced instructional format improved motivation more than the standard format, but impact on knowledge scores was small and not statistically significant. Learners with higher pre-intervention motivation scored better on post-intervention knowledge tests, suggesting that motivation may prove a viable target for future instructional enhancements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number76
JournalBMC medical education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 14 2015


  • Instructional design
  • Motivation enhancement
  • Task value
  • Test performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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