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This article reviews motivation research published in Distance Education since 1980, highlighting the major foci of investigation and reflecting on past findings. A major trend was that past research has focused predominantly on learners’ motivational attributes using sociocognitive models of motivation. We therefore have developed a good understanding of motivating variables such as self-efficacy and their power in engaging learners. However, this can be problematic because sociocognitive research situates motivation within an individualistic paradigm with limited attention given to examining whether learning supports and instructional designs in open and distance learning mediate and motivate learning engagement. Building on the review, this article seeks to shift the research attention from whether learners are motivated to crafting an open and distance learning system that is motivating and engaging by tapping into multiple motivation sources available beyond the confines of an individualistic frame.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Journal Article

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