Date of Award


Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Food Science and Human Nutrition


Adrienne A. White

Second Committee Member

Alfred Bushway

Third Committee Member

Susan Sullivan


The objective of this study was to identify motivational characteristics that facilitate learning for 5 newly designed modules on stress management. The modules were designed by a team of multi-state researchers for young adults, as part of an online curriculum on healthful lifestyles to prevent obesity. A formative evaluation of the instructional design of the educational modules was conducted to determine whether they gained attention, provided relevance, inspired confidence, and produced satisfaction (Keller's ARCS Model). Young adults (n=80; ages 18-24 years; 89% white) from five universities (Michigan State, Syracuse, and the University of Maine, University of Rhode Island, and University of Wisconsin) completed a 15-minute online survey, consisting of Keller's 36-item Instructional Materials Motivation Survey (IMMS) (a=0.96), four qualitative questions, and demographic questions. The IMMS is designed as a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from l=not true to 5=very true for four subscales, attention (a=0.89), relevance (a=0.81), confidence (a=0.90) and satisfaction (a=0.92). Each participant (n=20 per state) viewed two of the five modules, completed the IMMS once and a set of four qualitative questions for each of the two modules. Statistical analyses included the Student's t-tests and analysis of variance. The significance level was set at p<0.05. Total IMMS mean scores were higher for females than males (p=0.03) and 18-19 year-olds than 20-24 year-olds (p=0.03). The modules were more relevant (p=0.01) and inspired more confidence (p=0.03) for females than males. Confidence (mean =4.3±0.47) was the only subscale above the desired mean of 4.0, indicating that it was "mostly true" that participants believed they would be successful and in control of their success when learning the information provided in the modules. Other mean scores were 3.1±0.85 for satisfaction, 3.6±0.63 for relevance, and 3.7±0.68 for attention. Based on the formative evaluation, suggestions for module revisions included to capture attention by increasing the variety of activities; enhance satisfaction and attention through adding interactive material, such as quizzes, and reducing the amount of words per page; and to improve relevance by giving more examples on how information could be used and be important to young adults. Revisions should include making the modules more appealing to males and 20-24 year-olds. Implementing the findings from this formative evaluation will strengthen the educational materials, help to target them to the young adult population, and ultimately should improve program effectiveness for obesity prevention.