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Welcome to the third issue of Learning Science Weekly, the smarter way to stay on top of updates related to the science of learning and how it can be applied in corporate and customer education. In this edition, our editors will share content that can help you create evidence-based learning experiences that drive real-world results. Let us know what you think, and what you’d like to see next week, by emailing

This week, we’re featuring a couple of conferences for your consideration, along with our regular review of research. (Say that three times fast.)

First up: Some sad news in the world of instructional design.‍

In Memoriam

This week, we’re saying farewell to Robert F. Mager (June 10, 1923 - May 23, 2020), who was best known for his work with learning objectives. If you follow the ABCD model (Audience, Behavior, Condition, Degree) for creating learning objectives, then you have Dr. Mager to thank.

Must-Read: The classic Preparing Instructional Objectives: A Critical Tool in the Development of Effective Instruction. Bonus points if you catch the surprising appearance of sea creatures in the preface.

This Week's Quote, WTF Edition

“The so-called generation Y, born between 1980 and 2000, is considered particularly hard to motivate when traditional teaching methods are applied” (Putz, Hofbauer, & Treiblmaier, 2020).

Editor’s Note: Maybe it’s not the students’ fault; perhaps traditional teaching methods are simply boring and ineffective. Just saying... (For more on motivation, keep reading!)

Read More: Can Gamification Improve Education? Findings from a Longitudinal Study

Video vs. Text: the Final Showdown

Question: Should learners receive both a written explanation of a problem and a written example, or is a written explanation and a video example easier to comprehend? In a 2020 issue of Computers in Human Behavior, researchers Hefter and Berthold report findings from their study that examined whether learners performed better after receiving examples in text or video form. The findings indicate that a written introductory example was more efficient for the learners, as it required less time to study and less mental effort to recall. Why? Hefter and Berthold point to the work of Leahy and Sweller (2011), as well as cognitive load theory and transient information effect: “Learners are capable of processing transient information properly -- but only as long as this information is short and simple.”

Key Takeaway: Long and complex examples should be presented in writing, “so that learners can process it deeply enough.”

Read More: Preparing Learners to Self-Explain Video Examples: Text or Video Introduction?

Just Do It

Reader Johanne M. suggested that we include information on motivation and learning in this week’s issue. With that in mind, we dug up one of our favorite studies related to self-determination theory (SDT), from Roca & Gagné. This study merged SDT with Davis’ Technology Acceptance Model to explain the role of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in the acceptance of e-learning. If you’re a fan of Deci & Ryan’s SDT (like I am), you may remember that autonomy, competence, and relatedness are all psychological factors supporting intrinsic motivation. Roca & Gagné’s findings led them to make the following recommendations:

  • Organizations should promote conditions that support autonomy, competence, and relatedness among their workers, in relation to the e-learning system. Users will show greater interest, greater effort, better performance learning, and greater usage of the platform as a result.
  • Learners should establish a set of achievable goals, and should be given regular constructive feedback during instruction, to increase perceived competence.

Key Takeaway: In the time of COVID-19, enhance perceived relatedness through regular (virtual) meetings and by designing opportunities for colleagues to share information.

Read More: Understanding e-Learning Continuance Intention in the Workplace: A Self-Determination Theory Perspective

We're Looking Forward To...

Learning professionals, unite (remotely, of course)! We’re featuring a couple of virtual conferences this summer that we think are worth the price of admission.

The Learning & Development Conference: June 22-July 31.
Highlight: A variety of formats -- workshops, synchronous and asynchronous events, debates, and panel discussions -- and sessions from a whole host of speakers, including organizer Dr. Will Thalheimer.

Learning @ Scale: August 12-14.
Highlight: A fireside chat with the esteemed Dr. Candace Thille, currently the director of learning science and engineering at Amazon.

Did we miss one? Send information about the conference, and why you’re looking forward to attending, to