Brett D. Jones, a professor in the School of Education, received the Award for Excellence in Research sponsored by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association. He received the award in May for his work in the field of educational psychology.

The award, established in 1975 by the association, is given to individuals who demonstrate research excellence in their fields. Recipients of the award receive $2,000 and a plaque.

Jones, who joined Virginia Tech in 2006, has written over 100 journal articles, presented at more than 160 conferences, and is internationally known for his research related to motivation, learning, and cognition. Throughout his career, Jones has received more than $2 million from the National Science Foundation for his research and numerous awards.

He developed the “MUSIC Model of Motivation,” which summarizes his research findings and theory into five principles that can be readily used by instructors to motivate their students. The acronym stands for the five principles of his theory, which suggests that students are motivated when they perceive that they are “eMpowered,” the content is “Useful,” they can be “Successful,” they are “Interested,” and they feel “Cared for” by their peers and instructors.

“The papers just keep coming because we keep getting more findings and more data and then we just keep publishing and presenting the research,” Jones said. “And the model can be applied to so many different areas of study.”

While Jones did not develop the five components, he pulled them together into one model, and in doing so created a strategy that has been shown to work for students ranging from first grade to graduate school. His questionnaire, which gauge’s the model’s success by measuring student motivation, has been translated into 13 different languages. Jones has been contacted by medical schools in New Zealand and Mexico, and a health science school in Iceland, among others, for permission to use his model.

“I'm thrilled to receive the award and be acknowledged for the work that not only I'm doing, but that I'm spearheading in my efforts with other colleagues at Virginia Tech and around the world,” Jones said.

Currently, Jones is working with computer science faculty members at Virginia Tech to understand how the field can better attract underrepresented minority students, especially as more courses transition to virtual settings.

“We’re looking to see if there's something there, and if so, what changes we can make in the curriculum to make a motivational climate that's better suited to include everyone,” Jones said.

He said the most rewarding aspect is the knowledge that students are becoming more excited and engaged in their school work.

“It’s rewarding to know that you're having an impact on different people and to have a part in improving teaching in some way,” Jones said. “I think the award is a testament to not just what I've been doing, but to all the help I've received from my colleagues, my mentors, and my students in the past. I look at it as more of an award for the type of research we do in the School of Education, and how it contributes to society in different ways.”

Visit Jones’ website for more information about his work.