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Happy Thursday! This week at LSW, we’re delving into types of goals and providing feedback to learners. Specifically, we’re addressing the following:

  • Does type of goal structure impact learning for a learning protocol task?
  • Can an online scenario-based learning intervention improve self-efficacy?

Better self or better than someone else?

Many instructors utilize learning protocol tasks, where a learner is instructed to “write down a text in which they reflect on the previously presented learning contents,” to assist learners in self-regulation (Berthold, Nückles, & Renkl, 2007). There is a large body of work illustrating the relationship between self-regulation and learning (see LSW Issue #19). While there has been research into optimizing learning protocol tasks, most of this has focused on the task itself, rather than the context of the task (Roelle, Berthold, & Fries, 2011). The researchers were specifically interested in the type of goal structure embedded in the task. Learning environments with mastery goal structures emphasize individual progress and effort, while environments with performance goal structures value competence in performance compared to other students (Ames, 1992). Thus, the current study aimed to investigate whether embedding the learning tasks in a performance goal structure or mastery goal structure would impact metacognition, learning outcomes, and learning efficiency (Moning & Roelle, 2021).

In the experiment, learners were provided with informational text on operant conditioning and introduced to learning protocols. To fully understand the learning protocol task, worked examples were presented as well. Within the presentation, all learners were taught about the benefits of learning protocol writing, feedback expectations, and the stated goal. Participants were in one of two conditions: mastery goal structure & performance goal structure. Mastery learners had a presentation that emphasized deepening one’s own comprehension through the task; performance learners emphasized demonstrating better performance compared to others (Moning & Roelle, 2021). However, all learners received the same learning protocol (see below).

(Moning & Roelle, 2021)

Questions asked in the learning protocol (image above) are as follows:

"Organization: Present the content in a concise way.

  • What is the most important content (e.g., concepts or thoughts)?
  • Try to highlight the most important content and connections in your learning protocol. > Elaboration: Connect and expand the content. >
  • Try to illustrate important content by giving your own example.
  • Try to connect the content to your own knowledge and your own experiences. > Monitoring of your comprehension and your comprehension difficulties. >
  • Which content have you already understood well?
  • Which content have you not yet understood?"

In addition to evaluating the responses to the learning protocol, a posttest and questionnaire were also administered to assess learning outcomes and learning effort, respectively (Moning & Roelle, 2021).

The results were very enlightening and provide excellent guidance for fostering metacognition and higher learning performance. Regarding the metacognitive process, mastery goal structure positively impacted the quality of metacognitive processes, but not the quantity (Moning & Roelle, 2021). Essentially, all learners illustrated a similar number of metacognitive statements within their protocols, but self-regulation and comprehension processes were of higher quality from learners in the mastery goal group. Learners in both groups reported putting forth similar amounts of mental effort. However, even with this similar level of effort, learners in the mastery goal structure group illustrated significantly higher learning outcomes (Moning & Roelle, 2021). The authors suggested this may be due to mastery learners focusing on improving their misunderstandings, while performance learners may have focused on illustrating content they already understood (Moning & Roelle, 2021).

This study provides incredibly valuable information regarding framing. That is, emphasizing personal achievement and growth may promote higher levels of metacognition, self-regulation, and learning outcomes. When providing tools or tasks, such as writing learning protocols, encouraging learners to deepen their learning, rather than comparing to other learners, may be more beneficial.

Key Takeaway: Writing learning protocols can be beneficial for learners by fostering metacognition and self-regulated learning, particularly when framed within a mastery goal structure.

Read More ($): Moning, J., & Roelle, J. (2021). Self-regulated learning by writing learning protocols: Do goal structures matter?. Learning and Instruction, 75.

Is feedback necessary in SBL?

The second article this week touches on a topic we’ve addressed recently, scenario-based learning (SBL; see LSW Issue #58). In less jargon, SBL is learning through real-world circumstances. When training young professionals, or students going into the workforce, face-to-face or one-on-one coaching is often used in real-world scenarios. However, those options are time consuming, expensive, and less flexible than online learning (Bardach et al., 2021).

While SBL can be effectively implemented online (LSW Issue #58), less is known about how feedback and learner reflection might impact outcomes. In other modalities, feedback has been shown to impact self-efficacy (Smith el al., 2019). In SBL, instructors can pre-record or write feedback to be displayed automatically for learners. Further, reflection is related to self-regulated learning, which we know positively impacts learning outcomes. Considering the above information, the researchers were interested in the relationship between the variables. Specifically, they aimed to assess the impact of feedback and reflection within an SBL on classroom readiness and self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy and classroom readiness were chosen as outcome variables here for a variety of reasons. First, we know it is important to increase professional (in this case, teacher) confidence prior to “jumping in.” It has also been shown that self-efficacy is linked to staying in the profession, lower burnout, and higher performance (Chestnut & Burley, 2015). In this study, “classroom readiness” encompassed positive feelings about teaching (emotional readiness), wanting to teach (motivational readiness), and having knowledge and skills (cognitive readiness). Thus, self-efficacy and classroom readiness are important variables related to learning in SBL. It is suggested that SBL can improve these skills by providing a “safe space” to deal with challenges that may arise in a profession (Bardach et al., 2021).

For this study, 238 student teachers were randomly assigned to one of three groups: SBL only, SBL & feedback, or SBL with feedback & reflection. Learners were provided with a variety of online situations and rated the appropriateness of each situation. For those in the reflection group, learners were given the opportunity to elaborate on the rationale of their responses. Feedback was given based on the “appropriateness” score provided and if it matched with the expert (instructor), pointing out if it was correct or incorrect; the explanation of the correct answer remained consistent (Bardach et al., 2021). An overview of the procedure for each of the groups is below.

(Bardach et al., 2021)

So, did the groups differ? Results illustrated a significant positive effect on cognitive classroom readiness for intervention groups over the control group. In other words, the intervention groups believed that they had the knowledge and skills to succeed. The intervention that had feedback and reflection also showed a significant positive impact on self-efficacy. This indicates that reflection was a crucial component of the intervention to improve self-efficacy.

The results from this study suggest some important practical implications. The first and most salient is that providing feedback and reflection may promote higher levels of self-efficacy among learners. Another practical implication that was not directly addressed in the study, but the authors mention, is that the SBL format provides a “safe-space” in an environment that might otherwise be high-stakes. Thus, providing this type of opportunity for learners may allow them to reflect more effectively (Bardach et al., 2021).

Key Takeaway: Scenario-based learning is an effective tool for training practitioners in an online learning environment. When implementing SBL, utilizing a “reflection-feedback cycle” may improve self-efficacy, self-regulation, and readiness.

Read More ($): Bardach, L., Klassen, R. M., Durksen, T. L., Rushby, J. V., Bostwick, K. C., & Sheridan, L. (2021). The power of feedback and reflection: Testing an online scenario-based learning intervention for student teachers. Computers & Education, 169.

Pets of Learning Science Weekly

Our furry friend this week is a sweet, 5 month old Catahoula named Rémy! This adorable little man “likes running, chasing, and working (learning). He's currently in Puppy Basic Training; and we're hoping he doesn't flunk out. He's learned to sit, shake, heel, and stay. We're still working on ‘drop it’ and ‘off.’ He knows ‘Walk?’ And ‘Park?’ as well. He's too cute and so sweet!”

Thanks for sharing, Ashley! Rémy seems to be an awesome learner, which we’re huge fans of over here!

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 by Kaitlyn Erhardt, Ph.D. and edited by Julia Huprich, Ph.D.

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