Date of Conferral







Jennifer Smolka


Virtual learning environments have become prevalent in the workplace to improve talent development. However, because there are so many different types of design options, not all learners are finding success in the virtual learning environment. This mismatch can negatively impact employees' motivation and learning outcomes. The purpose of this study was to explore how design features of a virtual learning environment impacted adult learners' motivation in the workplace. Constructivist and self-determination theories were used as theoretical frameworks. The research question in this study explored how social and external contextual factors influence an adult learner's motivation to learn in a virtual learning environment. A qualitative case study was used to explore the data collected from 8 federal employees who used a virtual learning environment for professional development. Data were collected from interviews, surveys, and direct observations and analyzed using inductive coding to determined patterns and themes for study. The results from the study indicated the participants viewed visual learning, learner control, ease of use, technical competence, instructor support, and technical support as critical factors that must be addressed when using a virtual learning environment to improve talent development. The findings from the study can provide insights that could be used by training developers for how to design virtual learning environments to provide a positive environment. The social change impact will be to improve the virtual learning environments for the federal workforce to improve motivation and create a culture of talent development for individual growth and organizational capabilities.