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Thanks for all of the positive feedback about last week's issue! We're back to our regular format this week and we're focusing on the following questions:

  • Can casual games enhance workplace training?
  • What impact can pre-questions have for video content?
  • How can you reduce mind wandering during long videos?

Leveraging Games in Workplace Training

In a recent study, published in the October 2020 issue of Educational Technology Research & Development, legend Karl Kapp and co-authors Valtchanov & Pastore asked whether motivation and learning in workplace training could be enhanced by playing casual games (note: not learning games). Their findings indicate that the employees who had access to these games, which were not related to the workplace or to the training content, had a higher level of engagement in the platform. These employees also scored higher on their assessments, indicating that they learned more than their non-game-playing peers. Why? The researchers speculate thusly: “Casual games have low cognitive overhead and may, in fact, allow learners to enter flow easily because of the simplicity of the games. In this instance, it could be possible that playing the casual game enhanced learning by boosting vigilance and alertness prior to engaging with the learning content” (Kapp, Valtchanov, & Pastore, 2020, p. 2278).

Key Takeaway: By engaging learners through non-learning casual games [prior to engaging in learning content], it may be possible to harness their transient level of engagement and use it for enhanced learning (p. 2279).

Read More ($): Kapp, K.M., Valtchanov, D. & Pastore, R. (2020). Enhancing motivation in workplace training with casual games: a twelve month field study of retail employees. Educational Technology Research & Development, 68, 2263–2284.

The Benefits of Pre-Questioning Before Short Videos

We’re all familiar with the traditional post-content quiz. But if you’re an instructional designer, do you give learners questions to consider before delivering the content? One study, reported in 2017, demonstrated that learners who received a set of questions before watching a short video remembered more information from that video than their non-prequestioned counterparts. Why? Researchers explain that these types of questions “significantly enhance students’ encoding, and later memory, of the to-be-learned information” (p. 105). See the figure below for the results (Carpenter & Toftness, 2017, p. 107).

The researchers noted that, based on their results, prequestions may be most effective for learning brief content such as short videos, segments of a lecture, or instructor demonstrations. Note, however, that one 2020 study indicates that prequestion benefits depend on the degree to which participants can successfully notice and discover the answers to the prequestioned material during a video lecture.

Key Takeaway: Giving learners a list of questions to consider before showing them a short video can enhance their subsequent memory of the topic, but only if they actually answered the questions during the video.

Read More ($): Carpenter, S. K., & Toftness, A. R. (2017). The effect of prequestions on learning from video presentations. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 6(1), 104-109.

Reducing Mind Wandering During Long Videos

We’ve all been there: you’re in an online learning course, watching a long video, and find yourself wondering if you remembered to reply to an email or rotate the laundry or let the dogs out (or is it just me?). If you’d like to avoid inducing mind-wandering in your learners, one study suggests that you incorporate pretests -- similar to pre-questions, noted above. Researchers found that “taking pretests reduced mind wandering and improved performance on a subsequent final test compared to the control condition. This result occurred regardless of whether pretests were interspersed throughout the lecture (Experiment 1) or were administered at the very beginning of the lecture (Experiment 2). These findings demonstrate that online lectures can be proactively structured to reduce mind wandering and improve learning via the incorporation of pretests.” Worth noting -- the video in this case was a whopping 26 minutes long.

Key Takeaway: Use pre-tests to help reduce mind wandering and increase learner retention for longer videos.

Read More ($): Pan, S.C., Sana, F., Schmitt, A.G., & Bjork, E.L. (2020). Pretesting reduces mind wandering and enhances learning during online lectures. Journal of Applied Research in Memory & Cognition, 9(4), 542-554.

LSW Podcast: Episode 5 Now Available

In this week's episode, we had a conversation with Donald Clark about artificial intelligence and how it can enhance learning experiences. Check it out here or subscribe on Spotify.

Here's what listener Andrea B. had to say about this week's episode: "What a thrill to hear the insightful Donald Clark. Great discussion about the use of AI to enhance the learning experience, giving me some practical suggestions for current learning solutions I am developing. I will add his blog to my reading list. Thank you Julia for facilitating such an inspiring interview." Thanks for the positive feedback, Andrea!

Pets of Learning Science Weekly

Thanks to reader Hoang S. for sending in this adorable picture of Jackie, who's 8 months old and a champ at sitting for photos already!

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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