Skip to main content


Welcome! This week’s articles focus on some learning strategies for managers. We’ll be addressing:

  1. Can team-based learning improve interpersonal skills?
  2. Does gamification increase cognitive rehearsal?

Let’s jump right in!

Teamwork & The Devil Wears Prada 👠

When looking at the global business environment currently, the shift to online and technological settings requires a heightened level of communication between managers and teams. Surveys have shown that employers consistently rate team collaboration, communication, and problem solving skills as the top skills for hiring (Choi, Slaubaugh, & Tian, 2021).

However, many learning environments, workplace training and otherwise, are moving toward online formats (eLearning) to allow flexibility and ease of access. This shift sometimes comes at the expense of losing interaction among learners. Consequently, active learning is not able to take place as readily (Choi et al., 2021). Active learning is an important piece of the learning puzzle, because, in addition to increasing learning performance, it keeps learners engaged, promotes understanding other learners, and decreases achievement gaps, particularly for minority status learners (Choi et al., 2021).

The researchers suggest that team-based learning (TBL) be utilized in online learning environments, as it is an active-learning approach. TBL should aid in the development of problem-solving skills, metacognition, and teamwork. Prior research has also indicated that TBL may be beneficial for learners that may otherwise fall behind, due to the accountability from a team (Choi et al., 2021). Thus, the researchers sought to assess the learner experience and benefits of TBL in a manager training program (Choi et al., 2021).

The author’s based the TBL project on a previous study, which highlights the following principles to implement TBL successfully:

“1) proper group formation (i.e., intellectual talents should be equally distributed among the groups);

2) student accountability;

3) team assignments that require group interaction; and

4) immediate feedback.“

The groups in the study were each to use the organization concepts and theories learned in the course to analyze a film (one of which was The Devil Wears Prada), which was assigned to them. They engaged in a threaded discussion, providing their initial thoughts and feedback to group members. The project ended with a final recorded group presentation and written paper. Learners provided ratings for peer evaluations, teamwork, team members, and their overall experience with TBL (Choi et al., 2021).

The findings illustrated that the TBL project was quite successful! The peer evaluations were a crucial component for accountability and learners felt they were rated fairly by peers (Choi et al., 2021). Learners reported they felt that they learned the material better with the TBL than they would have learned it alone.
Results indicated that TBL was particularly useful for learners with less than 5 years of experience. Overall, learners engaged in “cooperative leadership skills” and improved their presentation skills as well, with the data illustrating learning through the improved use of organizational behavior concepts (Choi et al., 2021).

Key Takeaways: Implementing team-based learning can help future managers understand organizational behavior concepts while improving their interpersonal skills. This is a particularly useful approach for those with less than 5 years of experience. Remember, for online learning settings, encouraging social interaction can help improve learning!

Read More ($): Choi, S., Slaubaugh, M., & Tian, X. (2021). Integrating learning interpersonal skills through team-based learning (TBL) in a management course. Journal of Education for Business, 96(8), 498-509.

Game-Based Learning and Cognitive Rehearsal

Using cognitive rehearsal (CR), which is visualizing a behavioral response, has been shown to increase self-efficacy (Pereira & Wahi, 2021). CR has previously been shown effective in nursing education, assisting nurses to envision responses to job-stress and prevent bullying (Clark & Gorton, 2019). Management training proves to be a field that can greatly benefit from CR, since it involves collaborative interpersonal skills. However, how do we induce CR in an online learning environment? This is the question that researchers Pereira and Wahi (2021) aimed to answer.

The researchers developed an online roleplaying game-based learning (GBL) module to assist with applications of management theory to promote CR. The GBL module consisted of a case-study on Total Quality Management (TQM) that learners worked through (Pereira & Wahi, 2021). All learners were given access to the module, but it was provided as a supplement to the traditional course work. Roughly half of the learners chose to participate in the roleplaying GBL module. All learners were also to turn in an essay regarding TQM at the end of the coursework (Pereira & Wahi, 2021).

So, did learners that participated in the roleplaying GBL perform better? In short, yes! First, learners that participated in the GBL module reported high levels of engagement, which we know can improve learning outcomes. Further, participation in the GBL module was related to higher grades on the essay assignment and the course, illustrating effectiveness (Pereira & Wahi, 2021)!

However, it should also be highlighted that this was a convenience sample and there may be a difference between students that chose to engage in an optional piece of course work. Since learners engaging in the GBL module also illustrated higher overall grades, bias may be present. Thus, this should be conducted with a truly randomized sample.

Key Takeaway: Utilizing a roleplaying game-based learning (GBL) component to managerial training can help to promote engagement and cognitive rehearsal, which may promote increased outcomes and application of managerial theories.

Read More (open): Pereira, A. & Wahi, M. (2021). Development and testing of a roleplaying gamification module to enhance deeper learning of case studies in an accelerated online management theory course. Online Learning, 25(3), 101-127.

Pets of Learning Science Weekly

Reader Julie S. shared her sweet kitty, Shifty, with us. Shifty likes to watch lizards on the porch and snuggle up close. Here, we see Shifty optimizing her learning by engaging in a nap (see how naps improve learning in LSW Issue #2)!

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 Kaitlyn Erhardt, Ph.D.

Have something to share? Want to see something in next week's issue? Send your suggestions: