Motivational flow in computer-based information access activity
Chan, Tom S.
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Flow is an optimal psychological state during which people become so intensely involved and the experience so enjoyable that they will do it for its own sake. When people reflect on how it felt, they often mention these aspects:(a) sensing skills and challenge in balance, (b) engaging in a goal-directed activity, (c) receiving clear feedback, (d) feeling in control, (e) intensifying concentration, (f) merging action and awareness, (h) losing self-consciousness, (h) distorting time perception, and (i) experiencing great enjoyment. Flow theory argues that environmental factors, such as challenge, goal, control, feedback and concentration, has major influences in motivation. These factors provide a theoretical congruence between flow and instructional design in general, and motivation design in particular. A problem in the study of flow is its complexity. Constructs must be examined together, and their interactions inspected. Surfing on the Internet frequently induces a sense of excitement similar to flow. The vividness and interactivity of hypermedia appear to enhance flow by increasing user concentration and control. Technology affects presentation, but not the content. Searching for information induces flow because it is challenging and goal directed. This study investigates the effects of content relevance and presentation quality, and their interaction, on students' flow experience while engaging in computer-based information access activities. A better understanding in the dynamic of flow can lead to better instructional design that provides positive experiences and improves motivations. Flow state scale indicates no significance in the main effects, but strong statistical and practical significant interactions. Presentation quality enhances flow in low content relevance tasks, but impedes flow in high content relevance activities. It shows that multiple channel stimuli enhance experience until the cognitive capacity is stretched. From the instructional design perspective, it implies that multimedia elements must be integrated into lesson design carefully, or it may have negative consequences. While content and presentation do interact to influence flow experience, much is still not know about the model. Flow is indeed a complex phenomenon and warrants further investigation.