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Hello, hello & welcome to another week of learning science 🧠

This week, we’ll be talking about the social influences on learning, in a couple of different forms. The questions of interest are:

  1. Does group learning help improve self-directed learning?
  2. Which social media functions impact learning performance?

In this issue, you will find information on how social learning can impact performance.

Group Cooperation & Self-Directed Learning

Our first article this week brings us back to last week’s self-directed learning (SDL) issue, while connecting to our larger topic of social learning for this week. Researchers at Hubei University wanted to assess if a classroom focused on group cooperation would help improve nursing students’ self-directed learning. Considering self-directed learning involves planning and implementation by the learner, a lot of research on the topic has focused on individual factors that moderate these behaviors. However, external factors, such as social interaction, also influence self-directed learning. Thus, the authors were interested in whether group cooperation could impact self-directed learning. More specifically, the researchers investigated if group-oriented teaching methods improved SDL more than a conventional, lecture-style classroom.

In this single semester intervention, sophomore-level nursing students were split into one of two types of classes: 1. Group Cooperative Class (GCC) and 2. Conventional Class (CC). The GCC was led by the student groups. The groups organized the pre-class preparations and after-class assignments for themselves. Groups would present results of their learning for the instructor or teaching assistants to comment on. The CC included pre-class preparation, instructor lecture, and after-class assignments according to the school schedule (i.e., a ‘typical’ college course).

To assess outcomes, the authors evaluated learners' self-management, application of learning strategies, ability to obtain information, and ability to cooperate. At the end of the semester, overall SDL scores increased significantly for students in the GCC, but did not significantly increase for students in the CC. When looking into the sub-dimensions, students in the GCC were found to have higher scores on the “ability to self-manage” and “ability to cooperate” domains at post-intervention. Post-intervention assessment scores did not differ between the groups.

What does this all mean to us? Well, self-directed learning was improved for students in the group cooperative class, indicating that working in a group setting may lead to an increase in self-management and cooperation skills. Thus, if self-management and cooperation are important factors in a particular training course, group-based cooperative learning might be something to consider!

Key Takeaway: Creating an educational environment that intentionally fosters collaborative group work may help to improve learner self-management and cooperation skills, thus impacting overall self-directed learning.

Read More ($): Wang, Y., Ma, J., Gu, Y., Wang, J., Chen, C., Zhang, Y., & Wang, R. (2021). How does group cooperation help improve self-directed learning ability in nursing students? A trial of one semester intervention. Nurse Education Today, 98.

**Check out Issue #51 of LSW for information on SDL. In short, SDL is crucial for online learning. So, finding ways to boost SDL can help improve learning outcomes, particularly for digital learning environments!

Social Media Functions & Learning Performance

Our final article this week looks at the influence of social media and motivation on learning performance. Prior research regarding social media and learning generally assessed various social media platforms. While this study did include 9 social media platforms, the functions of those platforms were the main interest (Hosen et al., 2010). For instance, rather than honing in on Twitter as a platform, the researchers were interested in the ability to exchange documents, engage in virtual communication, and knowledge formation as the functions. The researchers also assessed an individual motivational factor, reputation. The study was done in a higher education institution (HEI). HEI’s often use learning management systems to aid in learning performance, while students are often sharing information via social media. For example, students will create groups via Slack or Discord to communicate with each other. Considering the social nature of these groups, as well as the connectivism that comes from them, this research aimed to evaluate if social media functions and reputation affect knowledge sharing and learning performance.

First up is knowledge sharing. Reputation was found to have the strongest influence on knowledge sharing, followed by virtual communication and document exchange. The authors suggest this result may indicate students prioritize enhancing their reputation through knowledge sharing over self-satisfaction (which may be indicated through document exchange). However, when looking at learning performance, document exchange was the strongest influence, followed by knowledge formation and reputation. The authors interpret this finding to mean that students understand the importance of exchanging documents and engaging in knowledge formation, but still do so in ways that can enhance their reputation.

I found this study incredibly interesting and I think there are great bits of practical implications. First, developing strategies to increase document sharing within social media has the potential to improve learning performance. While virtual communication wasn’t the strongest predictor of knowledge sharing, it was significant. Thus, boosting that virtual communication would positively impact learning performance as well!

Key Takeaway: When considering social media, it’s not always the platform that matters, but the functions. Designing social platforms with the ability to easily exchange documents, communicate virtually, and boost reputation has the potential to improve learning performance.

Read More ($): Hosen, M., Ogbeibu, S., Giridharan, B., Cham, T. H., Lim, W. M., & Paul, J. (2021). Individual motivation and social media influence on student knowledge sharing and learning performance: Evidence from an emerging economy. Computers & Education, 172.

Pets of Learning Science Weekly

Hi, it’s Katie! This week, I’m sharing my hound mix babies, Lincoln and Truman. They’re the best hiking buddies anyone could ask for! Bonus points if you see the theme 🇺🇸

Send me (hi, I'm Julia) 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 by Kaitlyn Erhardt, Ph.D. and edited by Julia Huprich, Ph.D. Our head of growth and community is Julieta Cygiel.

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