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This week, we're featuring research, pets, job opportunities, funding competitions... just another week here at LSW. We'll keep the chatter to a minimum.

50 Shades of Gamification

We’ve all heard that gamification can have a positive influence on learning and behavior. Game elements can be found everywhere, from your smartwatch to your favorite language learning app to your LMS to… the list goes on. But how, exactly, does gamification work? Two researchers in Germany conducted a pair of studies that examined the mechanisms behind gamification and investigated whether game elements impacted learners’ perceived effort, mood, and decision-making. Their findings suggest that integrating game elements into cognitive tasks does not necessarily improve task performance (i.e., accuracy) but instead prevents task disengagement. Participants in the gamified condition were in better moods and they reported that the cognitive tasks they were asked to complete were easier to finish.

Key Takeaway: The results of these studies suggest that gamification does not influence how effectively people learn, but rather how they feel about the experience and how difficult they find the activity.

Read More (paywalled article): Bernecker, K. & Ninaus, M. (2020). No Pain, No Gain? Investigating Motivational Mechanisms of Game Elements in Cognitive Tasks. Computers in Human Behavior.

Don’t Flip Out

Does your organization incorporate flipped learning into their training strategies? In flipped learning, participants will watch videos or read material before class and then apply the content of the learning material during class. This technique requires learners to -- you guessed it -- actually do the work ahead of time, which can be difficult for those lacking Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) behaviors, like proper study habits. People with high SRL have the ability and motivation to think about how, what, and why they are learning (i.e., metacognition) and thereby control their learning behavior (i.e., self-regulation).

In an experiment involving 8th graders, researchers examined whether it was possible to increase learners’ SRL behaviors by giving them “learning tips” during their flipped learning exercise. For example, participants would be informed about the benefits of spaced practice or given ways to take better notes before they watched a video. These researchers found that students who were given these learning tips performed better on exams, but curiously did not actually exhibit the behaviors that had been recommended. And, in some cases, the students found those learning tips to be super annoying.

Key Takeaway: These researchers recommend that, if you provide tips on “how to learn” in your flipped learning scenario, that you do so using “a scaffolding strategy, in which the SRL instruction tips build on each other and are gradually reduced to encourage the students to internalize the SRL strategies instructed” (p. 30). We’re wondering: what would the results look like if this study had been conducted with adults -- would they have found learning tips to be too elementary?

Read More (paywalled article): van Alten D.C.D., Phielix C., Janssen J. & Kester L.. (2020). Self-Regulated Learning Support in Flipped Learning Videos Enhances Learning Outcomes. Computers & Education.

Got Your Money: $2M Available

The Schmidt Futures Forum and Citadel have teamed up to launch a $2M competition to develop new ed tech tools to help students whose schooling has been disrupted by COVID-19. The Futures Forum on Learning Tools Competition invites educators, emerging talent, researchers, innovators, and digital learning platforms to submit solutions to this global problem and advance the field of learning engineering. Funding levels range from $25,000 to up to $250,000, with a total purse of $2M available. Finalists and winners will be connected to researchers, edtech leaders, and philanthropic organizations, and they will be given feedback throughout the process to help them refine their solutions and build a team. Concept memos from entrants are due Sept. 18. Winners will be selected in early December.

Qiao Lin is a doctoral student in the College of Education at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Qiao’s research interests focus on using psychometrics to help inform assessment development and implementation as well as applying statistical methods to measure complex learning outcomes. In an NSF funded project (, she researched using maker-based assessments to facilitate and assess computational thinking (CT) and STEM learning.

Do you know a student (or are you a student) doing cool things in learning science? Send us the details:

The Land of Opportunity

Georgia Tech’s Design Intelligence Laboratory ( in the School of interactive Computing is hiring a full-time research scientist and a half-time post-doc. Get all of the details:

Pets of Learning Science Weekly

We're convinced that this week's pet can't possibly be ANY cuter. Look at that face! What do you think? Say hello to Leo, working cocker spaniel companion of Monica K.!

Do you have a cute pet? Send us your pet pics at

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 edited by Julia Huprich, Ph.D. Our head of growth and community is Julieta Cygiel.

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