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Welcome to the first Learning Science Weekly issue of 2021! After a few weeks off, we’re excited to catch up. Head on over to our site, log into the community, and let us know what you’ve been up to! You’ll also find job postings, announcements, and more.

Discussions & Outcomes

We know that providing learners with an opportunity to communicate with others can enhance the overall learning experience. But do instructors’ messages on discussion boards and other similar social tools improve learning? A 2017 article from the journal Online Learning suggests that the characteristics, but not the frequency, of these messages can positively influence learner outcomes. Specifically, both instructional and conversational-style posts from instructors correlated with an increase in learners’ academic performance and their perceptions of the instructor and course quality. So, the next time you’re teaching an online class or workshop, jump into the chat. Your learners will probably appreciate an opportunity to get to know you, and you could be positively influencing their opinion of you, their feelings about the course, and their own progress. Thanks to reader Judith R. for recommending that we look into this topic.

Read More (open): Hoey, R. (2017). A Critical Analysis of Characteristics that Influence the Effect of Instructor Discussion Interaction on Student Outcomes. Online Learning, 21(4).

Key Takeaway: In this relatively small mixed-methods study, two types of messages from instructors had a positive correlation with learning outcomes: conversational and instructional.

Episode 3 Now Available!

On this week’s podcast, Julia chatted with former instructional designer and current PhD student Pauline Muljana, who’s studying Instructional Design and Technology at Old Dominion University. Tune in to hear about the group that Pauline co-founded, PD4IDs, and her reading recommendations. We also chat about self-regulated learning, scaffolding, the joys of being a novice, and how we read scholarly articles. Check it out!

Introducing: Michael and Kelley

We’re excited to welcome Michael Balintona and Kelley Taylor, our Spring 2021 undergraduate Learning Science Weekly interns, to the family!

Michael Balintona is our new Digital Advertising intern. He’s a recent graduate from the University of California, Riverside with a degree in Business Economics. He’ll work with Juli to enhance LSW’s digital presence with marketing, SEO, and content strategy initiatives.

Kelley Taylor is our new Research Assistant intern. She’s a senior at Georgia State University, studying Human Learning & Development. She’ll work with Julia on research initiatives and will play a key role in keeping the newsletter fun and informative.

Welcome to the LSW family, Kelley and Michael!


We were recently introduced to Jesse Mao and Joshua Ling, founders of Podsie, a nonprofit initiative that’s building a learning science-based platform to help K-12 teachers enhance student outcomes. They’re currently growing their user base to teachers who are eager to implement spacing and interleaving in their classrooms. Help us share this initiative with the teachers in your life! Learn more and sign up at

Pets of Learning Science Weekly

This week we’re featuring Pretzel, the adorable companion of reader Richard N. We hear that Pretzel is “a positive bundle of fun that helps break up the screen time and Zoom calls.” Thanks for sharing, Richard!

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

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