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We're officially 4 weeks into our coverage of research commissioned by Intellum. Stay tuned for issue 106 when we will return to covering more traditional learning science research!

This week's issues focuses on formalized, scalable, and curriculum-based organizational education initiatives. Specifically, we’re answering the question:

  • Is there a relationship between how you label your initiatives and learner outcomes?

Taking a look back at a previous article, we are revisiting research that focuses on the question:

  • Do fun activities promote informal learning?

Labels matter 🏷️

Informal education is a critical component of workplace education as people learn socially through observation, collaboration, and community — both in-person and remote. However, formal education also plays an important role. What do these labels really mean though? Is there a relationship between the way people describe their initiatives and learner outcomes?

When we cross-referenced the labels people use for their education initiatives against the most significant challenges companies face, the short answer is yes. Specifically, Intellum found that companies providing curriculum-based training are least likely to struggle with learner abandonment. Of course, it’s difficult to learn if learners are leaving - so, abandonment is definitely a metric we want to watch out for.

The results also showed that 4% of respondents described their organizational education initiative as formalized, scalable, and curriculum-based. While 30% of respondents described their education initiative as informal.

Again, we’re not here to diss informal learning (because it’s very important! See: LSW #36), but it’s important to understand the challenges that different approaches may present. Why would curriculum-based learning lead to lower learner abandonment? We can’t say for sure, but this may be due to companies utilizing curriculum for “mandatory training,” or they might be utilizing higher quality instructional methods.

Either way, implementing a curriculum-based approach (hopefully along with being formalized & scalable) should help to keep learners around!

Key Takeaway(s): Companies providing curriculum-based training are least likely to struggle with learner abandonment. This could be a result of mandatory training or higher quality content.

Read More (Open): Transforming Organizational Education Initiatives from Cost Center to Profit Center

Is it all fun and games? 🎮

Companies host social events, team building activities, and employee competitions. But do these activities promote informal learning?

A study was conducted to determine the relationship between fun and informal learning. In order to look at informal learning, the researchers specifically looked at learning from oneself (reflecting), learning from others (peer learning), and learning from non-interpersonal sources (reading materials).

The study determined that fun activities were related to overall informal learning, learning from others, and learning from non-interpersonal sources. They also found that manager support for fun was significantly related to learning from oneself, suggesting that manager support for fun leads to reflection.

While fun does help learning, managers should assess which aspects of informal learning best serve their organization.

Key Takeaway(s): Activities that employees perceive as “fun” can lead to higher overall informal learning, as well as promote learning from others and from non-interpersonal sources.

Read More ($): Tews, M. J., Michel, J. W., & Noe, R. A. (2017). Does fun promote learning? The relationship between fun in the workplace and informal learning. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 98, 46-55.


Roundtables are candid virtual meetings amongst customers and peers to discuss the challenges and triumphs of organizational education. Join us at 1pm EST on the following dates:

September 20: Education for Associations & NonProfits
October 4: Education for Software & Martech
October 18: Education for Franchises

Pets of Learning Science Weekly

This week we are featuring two adorable poodle pups, Mister Darcy and Quinbo, from our reader, Douglas L. We’re told Mister Darcy “is a good natured poodle who can dismantle a cloth toy in 9 seconds.” The two can also be seen enjoying a car ride together. Very adorable! Thanks for sharing!

CLICK HERE to send us your pet pics.

Wondering why we’re including animal photos in a learning science newsletter? It may seem weird, we admit. But we’re banking on the baby schema effect and the “power of Kawaii.” So, send us your cute pet pics -- you’re helping us all learn better!

The LSW Crew

Learning Science Weekly is written and edited through collaboration of the Intellum content and learning science teams.

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