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Learning Science Weekly provides research-based best practices in training and learning. What topic should we cover next week? Let us know at

Customer Education: Timing Matters

Researchers Nicod, Llosa, & Bowen’s study on customer education in the retail industry sought to answer the question: should training be provided for customers proactively, or after a “critical situation?” And, most importantly for retailers, how does the timing of this training impact the bottom line? Their findings indicate that proactive training early in the customers’ journeys led to an increase in sales per customer.

Key Takeaway: Proactively offering training to increase customers’ understanding of your products and services can positively impact their willingness to spend money.

Read More: Customer Proactive Training vs. Reactive Customer Training in Retail Store Settings: Effects on Script Proficiency, Customer Satisfaction, and Sales Volume (July 2020, Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services)

Are We Failing Online Learners?

The research says: it depends. A review conducted in 2014 found that learners drop out of online courses for a number of reasons, including a lack of motivation and a lack of time.

So how can we facilitate an online course that encourages completion? Researchers Reparaz, Aznarez-Sanado, and Mendoza have one answer, based on their research of massive open online courses (MOOCs): support self-regulated learning by encouraging participants to set goals. Their research found that learners who set goals at the beginning of the course were much more likely to finish it.

Key Takeaway: We can support learners’ goal-setting and increase course completion rates by giving a detailed description of the course and providing time estimates for activities, including assessments.

Read More: Self-Regulation of Learning and MOOC Retention (May 2020, Computers in Human Behavior)

Note-Taking: Effective for Learning?

Our thanks to reader Florent G. for his question about effective note-taking strategies (and his picture of Chocolat, below). Researchers Arnold, Thio, McDaniel, Umanath, Reilly, & Marsh conducted a study that examined note-taking as a technique for learning, in comparison to three other techniques: highlighting, free recall, and essay-writing. Most note-takers simply copy information, which requires no cognitive processing; in the study conducted by Arnold et al., free recall and essay-writing led to better learning of material.

Key Takeaway: If you’d like to remember something that you’ve read, don’t simply take notes; leverage cognitive processes like reorganization, elaboration, and retrieval to help your brain encode that information properly.

  • Reorganization: organize the information into a new structure
  • Retrieval: recall the information from memory
  • Elaboration: write about the information

Read More: Understanding the Cognitive Processes Involved in Writing to Learn (April 2017, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied)

Also Consider: Is Testing a More Effective Strategy than Note-Taking? (September 2017, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied)

Get Moving!

We know that exercise keeps you healthy, but did you know that it can help you learn? In a 2007 study, researchers found that vocabulary learning was 20 percent faster in a group that engaged in intense physical exercise; this group also retained information better after 1 week, compared to the “moderate exercise” group and the (lucky) “resting” group.

Key Takeaway: Short bouts of intense exercise -- even as short as 6 minutes of sprints -- could be used in situations which require an immediate boost of learning. (Now who’s going to tell my boss that I need a mid-meeting running break?)

Read More: High Impact Running Improves Learning (May 2007, Neurobiology of Learning and Memory)‍

Puppy Time!

Here’s Chocolat, le chien le plus adorable au monde! Thanks Florent for sharing.

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!