Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Learning Technologies Division

First Advisor

Stephen W. Harmon, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Brendan Calandra, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Janice B Fournillier, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Wanjira Kinuthia, Ph.D.


An important technique for learning, feedback has been described as responses to students’ behaviors, tasks, assignments, and outcomes. In this study, the researcher used a new kind of feedback message called an Emotional Motivational Feedback Message (EMFEM). EMFEM is a feedback message which includes motivational strategies and emotional content for motivating and encouraging students to learn more and to focus on a specific topic. EMFEM is based on Visser and Keller’s (1990) motivational message design, which was influenced by Keller’s (1987) ARCS theory and emotional content strategies. Because EMFEM is primarily used in text-based, online learning environments, it is limited in its ways of adding emotional content to feedback messages. Therefore, three main strategies were used in this study to include EMFEM: using the meaning of the words; formatting the words by using colored, bold, underlined text; and adding emoticons. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of EMFEM in online learning environments. This exploratory research was conducted using mixed method single case study design (Creswell, 2005; Johnson & Onwuegbuzie, 2004; Yin, 2009) and guided by the following question: How effective are emotional motivational feedback messages in an online learning environment? Participants were 15 undergraduate students enrolled for an instructional technology course in a large state university located in an urban region in the southeastern part of the United States during fall 2013. The researcher used multiple data collection strategies, including a course interest survey, an instructional technology attitudes survey, open-ended questionnaires, a research journal, forum/discussion postings, emails, reflection papers and warm-up surveys. The findings showed that, in an online course using EMFEM, (a) students’ motivation increased; (b) students’ attitudes toward IT increased; (c) students liked the EMFEM and the style of the instructor’s teaching; (d) students had a closer and friendlier relationship with the instructor; (e) students were satisfied with the course; (f) students started to use more emotional content; (g) students enjoyed having personalized EMFEM and requested to have EMFEM; and (h) students reported positive overall experiences by the end of the course.