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We wanted to kick this week’s issue off with a word of appreciation for reader Mirjam N., who pointed out that one of the articles we shared last week didn’t exactly fall into the “learning science” category. Thanks for the feedback and please send us your thoughts and comments -- we’re listening! Now, on to this week’s science-y stuff.

‍Something to Talk About

Researchers at the University of Hong Kong (go Lions!) recently conducted a study to determine which discussion post characteristics were more likely to generate conversation among learners. In a review of discussion postings in a non-formal learning environment, they discovered that messages that expressed disagreement or asked a question were more likely to generate responses from learners.

Key Takeaway: If you’re trying to generate a collaborative learning environment, encourage your learners to post questions in the forum. In this study, when a message explicitly invited further response in a question format, its likelihood of getting a response would significantly increase from 53% to 77%.

Read More (paywalled article): Chen, G., Lo, C.K., & Hu, L. (2020). Sustaining online academic discussions: Identifying the characteristics of messages that receive responses. Computers & Education, 156.

When There’s Something Strange... the neighborhood, who you gonna call? No, we’re not ghost-busting, but rather myth-busting, and in this case, we’re calling on Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa, author of the 2018 insta-classic Neuromyths: Debunking False Ideas About the Brain.

You might have heard this one before: the brain has unlimited memory capacity -- as much as 1 petabyte, or the entire Internet. Right? Well, probably not. While your boss might have a perfect memory of everything you’ve done wrong, the brain does not remember everything it’s ever experienced, according to Tokuhama-Espinosa. Instead, “people can remember things easily when they can be related to something already known; when they are of personal interest; and/or when they have survival value” (p. 142). I’d also argue that I’m able to remember things when they’re super-embarrassing (like that time I fell in the cafeteria in kindergarten, spilling my tray of food everywhere. Good times).

Key Takeaway: Relating concepts to existing knowledge is one way to help learners remember new content.

Read More (book, borrow from your local public library!): Neuromyths: Debunking False Ideas About the Brain.

Tedious & Boring

No, we’re not talking about your last staff meeting. (Well, maybe we are.) We’re talking about learning -- in a recent article, researchers sought to discover the qualities that boost learners’ resilience to boredom. In both studies reported in this article, learners with higher mindfulness reported higher boredom tolerance that, in turn, predicted greater academic diligence.

Key Takeaway: Early findings show that mindfulness-based interventions might improve learning performance, so incorporating mindfulness exercises into your regular practice might help you (and your learners) endure tedious tasks and activities.

Read More (paywalled article): Galla, B.M., Esposito, M.V., & Fiore, H.M. (2020). Mindfulness predicts academic diligence in the face of boredom. Learning & Individual Differences, 81.

Quote of the Week

“Working diligently on academic tasks despite boredom is critical for advancing long-term learning goals.” Galla, Esposito, & Fiore, 2020

Agree, or disagree? Chime in Twitter; use the hashtag #lswqotw and don’t forget to @ us! @LearnSciWeekly

We're taking a brief hiatus next week, but we'll be back in August with more fresh learning science news!

‍Pets of Learning Science Weekly

This week we’re featuring Pluto, bunny companion of reader Lynda K. Apparently, Pluto loves breakfast in bed, followed by a nice long nap (who doesn’t?!). Thanks for sharing a pic of the world’s luckiest bunny, Lynda!

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

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