Engagement And Motivation: Numerous "Silver Bullets"

Professionals And Cons Of Engagement Strategies

That is the final a part of the three-piece sequence exploring completely different approaches to growing learner engagement.

Video games And Gamification

Video games and gamification (two completely different approaches) are typically lumped collectively as an engagement instrument. Certainly, if something creates engagement, it's enjoyable! What does the analysis say? Many different articles on-line consult with a research displaying that gamification can improve engagement and retention by 90%! Who wouldn’t need that stage of engagement? They even cite the supply: "The Federation of American Scientists, 'A Meta-Analytical Examination of the Tutorial Effectiveness of Laptop-Based mostly Simulation Video games' (2001, Tracy Sitzman) [1]."

A meta-study sounds compelling because it opinions different research fairly than simply counting on one single research. Besides, whenever you learn the research by Traci Sitzman (observe: it’s not Tracy, it’s Traci) you’ll be taught what they actually discovered:

[...] In step with idea, put up coaching self-efficacy was 20% greater, declarative data was 11% greater, procedural data was 14% greater, and retention was 9% greater for trainees taught with simulation video games, relative to a comparability group. Nevertheless, the outcomes present robust proof of publication bias in simulation video games analysis.

Total, it's optimistic. However how did this 9% retention price flip into 90%? For those who’re considering digging deeper into video games and gamification myths, I’ve spent a full article on that [2].

That mentioned, microlearning (mentioned within the earlier half), with the mixture of spaced retrieval over time, video games, and gamification utilized appropriately in alignment with efficiency targets can and ought to be in your design toolkit. I’m simply not satisfied that novice studying designers have the time and experience to dig by all these snake oil stats to seek out the reality behind them.


One of many components of video games and gamification that delivers on engagement is shock. Of their e-book, Shock: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Surprising, Tania Luna and Dr. LeeAnn Renninger discover their analysis findings and shock you a large number:

By colourful narratives and compelling scientific findings, authors Tania Luna and Dr. LeeAnn Renninger shine a light-weight on the world's least understood and most intriguing emotion. They reveal how shifting our notion of shock lets us thrive within the face of uncertainty. And so they present us how shock acts as a shortcut that turns a typical product right into a significant expertise, a good suggestion right into a viral one, awkward small discuss into partaking dialog, and each day life into an journey.


Feelings are sometimes not noted of studying design as a result of we want house for all of the content material "to cowl." Do you know which you can design shock as nicely? The authors do a terrific job explaining the phases of shock by their analysis and what can go improper together with your "engineered design." On a private stage, I loved the authors’ writing fashion as nicely. And talking of feelings, this research-based TED discuss (or e-book) by Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett is a should:

For the previous 25 years, psychology professor Lisa Feldman Barrett has mapped facial expressions, scanned brains and analyzed a whole lot of physiology research to grasp what feelings actually are. She shares the outcomes of her exhaustive analysis—and explains how we might have extra management over our feelings than we expect.

Feelings are additionally on the middle of Nick Shackleton-Jones's How Individuals Be taught: Designing Training and Coaching that Works to Enhance Efficiency by his 5Di affective context mannequin of studying. For those who're on this user-centered design mannequin, begin with this quick video intro: you is likely to be shocked at how feelings play a job within the studying course of.


Humor can depend on shock as nicely. Good storytellers and public audio system use humor to drive house a degree, make us mirror, or simply enlighten the room. The query is, ought to we use humor in studying design to extend engagement? Connie Malamed has a well-written article on utilizing humor in studying. She walks us by a number of the execs and cons of this component [3].

Banas (2011) sums it up nicely, "The clearest findings concerning humor and schooling concern the usage of humor to create studying surroundings. The usage of optimistic, non-aggressive humor has been related to a extra fascinating and relaxed studying surroundings, greater teacher evaluations, higher perceived motivation to be taught, and delight of the course."

Emotional engagement promotes higher recall and will increase perceived motivation to be taught. However provided that the humor is straight associated to the actions and choices individuals want on the job. If humor is solely leisure to boost the content material, then it might probably grow to be a distraction. In truth, you'll probably bear in mind the humorous script however not what the training was about. I actually had this dialog with a colleague final 12 months, the place each of us recalled a humorous gross sales coaching (together with the characters and the scene) however neither of us might bear in mind what the subject was.

Humor And Brainstorming

One optimistic aspect impact of humor is inventive considering. Whenever you convey individuals collectively to brainstorm, no one needs to provide you with concepts which can be laughable. However when you intentionally ask for improper or inconceivable options, for instance, you’ll see examples of a lot better divergent considering.

Mind-Based mostly Studying

I've to confess, again within the day, I used to be thrilled to find out about my neurons and mind chemical substances comparable to dopamine. I used to be amazed at how rapidly I grew to become a neuroscientist of studying. Or not. As we speak, I’m extra confused than ever about what we all know and what we don’t know in regards to the mind, and particularly the sensible implications of this for studying design. I'm nonetheless amazed by the assorted mind plasticity research and fMRI footage however we overgeneralize and misunderstand the findings.

What Is Mind-Based mostly Studying After All?

Isn’t all studying brain-based? Like foot-based strolling? Aren’t we simply unfortunate with labeling issues: microlearning isn't about length; the 70:20:10 method isn't in regards to the numbers; gamification isn't about designing video games; and now, we've brain-based studying. I did my finest to seek out the official definition of brain-based studying for office studying. All I can say is that it’s supposed to make use of the newest findings from neuroscience to information us on the right way to design brain-friendly studying experiences.

The Principle Vs. Apply

In idea, all of us agree it is very important design for the mind. In observe, nevertheless, we appear to disagree on how we put that idea into observe. The issue is that brain-based studying means various things for everybody. After I posed this query on LinkedIn, lots of people chimed in with "to me..." solutions. The extra articles I learn on the subject, the extra I grew to become satisfied that it's a mixture of already recognized issues from studying science and cognitive psychology, together with overgeneralized particular lab findings. However then it will get worse. Articles consult with studying kinds (debunked), goldfish recollections (debunked), visible brains processing info 60,000x sooner, elevating our dopamine by enjoying a recreation, and so on. There was one identify that I ran into time and again: Abreena Tompkins.

"Physiologically, your neurons are eager and conscious for not more than 20 steady minutes," says Abreena Tompkins, an instruction specialist. "Your neurons have gone from full-fledged alert to utter collapse throughout these 20 minutes, and it takes two to a few minutes for them to get well and return to whole alert totally. You’ve shifted your focus when you take a pause longer than three minutes [4]."

Wow! 20 minutes, precisely? How does Abreena Tompkins know that? Looking for brain-based options I stored operating into references to Abreena Tompkins and her meta-study:

“Our brains are solely able to staying centered for brief bursts of time. Abreena Tompkins understands this very nicely. She carried out an enormous meta-analysis of brain-based analysis on studying and concluded that "Physiologically, your neurons are eager and alert for not more than 20 consecutive minutes. On the finish of these 20 minutes, your neurons have gone from full-fledged alert to whole collapse..."

It isn't totally clear how the paper choice course of occurred for her dissertation however it seems that brain-based studying was accepted "as is" with its personal class. In truth, not one of the studying science papers talked about brain-based studying. Mind-based studying was its personal class [5]. The primary supply for the quotes above was really Perry [6].

Studying requires consideration. And a focus is mediated by particular components of the mind. But, neural programs fatigue rapidly, really inside minutes. With three to 5 minutes of sustained exercise, neurons grow to be "much less responsive;" they want a relaxation (not not like your muscle groups whenever you carry weights). — Perry

Is It Truth Or A "Silver Bullet"?

Sadly, I couldn’t discover this paper wherever. On a optimistic observe, Oprah and Dr. Bruce Perry simply got here out with a e-book! Is brain-based studying a truth or a silver bullet?

Irrespective of whether or not I agree with somebody's opinion or not (so long as they're based mostly on cited analysis), I all the time are likely to dig for the other place to have a balanced view. Due to Paul A. Kirschner and Mirjam Neelen, I discovered the fact test about "Mind-Based mostly Bullocks" [7].

One of many key takeaways for me (and anybody whose audiences should not lab animals or paid grad college students in remoted research however fairly individuals within the messy office below competing priorities and sometimes unclear targets) is which you can’t simply seize some lab findings and pop it into the classroom. For instance, repetition is sweet for reminiscence and recall, however it might probably considerably scale back motivation. As a studying skilled that you must discover the stability, not simply based mostly on neurons and mind chemical substances, but additionally on the fact within the office. In accordance with Daniel Willingham, neuroscience utilized to schooling is usually unimpressive [7].

Studying grew to become like sports activities the place everybody can have an opinion and technique with none knowledge to remotely assist it so long as it appeared scientific. I'm hopeful that within the subsequent decade we are going to be taught extra sensible issues in regards to the mind that we don’t know right now. However we've a protracted option to get there. As we speak we’re not even making use of primary, evidence-based findings that we do know of.


Motion is extra partaking than static issues! Then let’s make issues transfer! Animation is for the rescue?

Animation isn't one factor. It has completely different kinds. This could vary from arranging restricted, pre-drawn components to handcrafted masterpieces. Viewers might not essentially know (or ought to know) how a lot work goes into animations however there may be time, price, and high quality in danger if we don’t set expectations.

Animation doesn't simply merely imply "shifting." Animation is in regards to the story that's depicted by the motion. The phrase "anima" means "soul." For those who simply make one thing transfer for the sake of engagement and ignore the soul half, you’re not an animator, you’re a mover.

Does Animation Enhance Studying?

It could. In accordance with Connie Malamed, analysis is blended on utilizing animation. Most likely as a result of we use it for the improper causes?

There are fairly a couple of research that in contrast animation-based studying to studying from static graphics. In these research, the effectiveness of animation produced blended outcomes and a few outcomes had been even contradictory. On the down aspect, there have been a number of research that confirmed animation-based studying had no notable advantages in comparison with nonetheless graphics (Teversky et al., 2002).

When to make use of animation, then? In accordance with a meta-study, probably the most efficient methods to make use of animation is when the specifics of the displayed adjustments themselves are the main focus of studying:

The outcomes of three meta-analyses present that the effectiveness of studying from animations, when in comparison with studying from static footage, is fairly restricted. A current re-analysis of one among these meta-analyses, nevertheless, helps that studying from animations is significantly more practical than studying from static footage if the specifics of the displayed adjustments have to be realized [8].

From the attitude of practicality, high-end animations (hand-drawn and custom-made) are probably the most costly and time-consuming components of studying design. Any little change request by stakeholders by the overview cycle can result in time and funds points.

What About Pre-Constructed Animation?

A standard use of animation is the illustration of a narrative or the "spicing" up of narratives. For that, hand-drawn animation could be too costly. What about pre-built animations comparable to Renderforest, Animaker, PowToon, Moovly, or Vyond?

These choices can scale back the time to create animation however they arrive with restrictions. You may solely change what the appliance lets you change. The opposite drawback is that seeing the identical characters and gestures time and again in numerous programs can dramatically scale back engagement.

For some, the cartoonish fashion of the animation is a no-go from the start. You can too use animation creatively. For instance, they'll present the implications of your choices in a branching design.


After studying this text you could really feel like there isn't any silver bullet for learner engagement. There isn’t. Not one of the mentioned approaches would work for all studying issues, all initiatives, and in all places. Clark Quinn's new e-book, MAKE IT MEANINGFUL: Taking Studying Design From Tutorial to Transformational, might supply extra actionable insights on the basic drawback: no matter you design, it should be significant for the viewers. In any other case, it would not matter what method you are taking. The approaches mentioned on this three-piece sequence are instruments and methods you should use together, to cook dinner up one of the best meal:

  • Like a great chef, that you must use the best substances, on the proper time, in the best recipe. For that, that you must have quite a lot of instruments and methods, a pinch of creativity, and a great deal of evidence-based science.
  • It's worthwhile to begin cooking! You may’t watch a video or take heed to a podcast and never cook dinner. Begin with what you may have now, and iterate.
  • Measure. Consider. Knowledge insights in your particular undertaking trump any theoretical debate about what works and what would not. (Whereas correlation isn't causation, correlations time and again are a fairly good indicator of success.)

Remaining Thought: Measurement

What will get measured, will get executed. What will get measured, will get designed for. Measuring self-importance metrics just like the variety of completions, time spent in coaching, satisfaction, and so on., will make you design your studying otherwise than measuring the appliance, the training switch, and finally, the enterprise affect.

Studying isn't the top aim. Doing is. Studying means change. And alter is tough when you may have different priorities competing for time and focus. Due to this fact, don’t waste your viewers’s time.


  1. Work backward from enterprise targets/efficiency gaps, beliefs, and so on.
  2. Determine the specified behaviors (actions, choices, beliefs, and so on.) and their actual boundaries. Don’t take with no consideration what management and administration say.
  3. Be proactive and consultative. Don’t wait till somebody involves you with a coaching want. Will probably be approach too late to do something apart from satisfying somebody’s undertaking plan with a "deliverable" they forgot to inform you about months earlier than.
  4. Handle studying issues and alternatives with studying.
  5. For those who do determine that studying is the answer, give attention to decision-making and process competence, not data recall or content material studying workout routines.
  6. Create genuine eventualities that match each the expectations on the job for the position and in addition the abilities stage of the viewers. Scaffold the training: novice learners want extra steerage, consultants want extra autonomy.
  7. Use the mixture of methods mentioned to design related, difficult, and significant studying experiences that target the appliance of studying on the job (studying switch).

P.S. What Questions Do You Nonetheless Have About Engagement And Motivation?

One in every of my unanswered questions is in regards to the position of self-efficacy. If you wish to discover motivation additional, I counsel studying in regards to the expectancy-value idea (EVT):

Motivation is affected by a number of elements, together with reinforcement for conduct, however particularly additionally college students’ targets, pursuits, and sense of self-efficacy and self-determination. The elements mix to create two basic sources of motivation: college students’ expectations of success and the worth that college students place on a aim. Viewing motivation on this approach is commonly referred to as the expectancy-value mannequin of motivation.


[1] Why Video games?

[2] Ramifications Of Gamification In Studying

[3] Does Humor Improve Studying?

[4] High 7 the explanation why it's best to develop and deploy studying nuggets (bite-sized studying) in eLearning

[5] Mind-Based mostly Studying Principle: An On-line Course Design Mannequin

[6] Perry, Bruce D., M.D., Ph.D. 2004. “How the Mind Learns Greatest.” Teacher Journal.

[7] Mind-Based mostly Bullocks

[8] When studying from animations is extra profitable than studying from static footage: studying the specifics of change

Additional Studying;

This text is the third of a three-part sequence exploring questions associated to studying, engagement, and methods to extend learner engagement. You may learn the primary article of the sequence right here and the second article right here

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