2022 Engagement And Motivation: Various “Silver Bullets”


shutterstock 538491964

Execs And Cons Of Engagement Methods

That is the final a part of the three-piece collection exploring totally different approaches to rising learner engagement.

Video games And Gamification

Video games and gamification (two totally different approaches) are generally lumped collectively as an engagement software. Certainly, if something creates engagement, it’s enjoyable! What does the analysis say? Many different articles on-line check with a research exhibiting that gamification can enhance engagement and retention by 90%! Who wouldn’t need that degree of engagement? They even cite the supply: “The Federation of American Scientists, ‘A Meta-Analytical Examination of the Tutorial Effectiveness of Pc-Based mostly Simulation Video games’ (2001, Tracy Sitzman) [1].”

A meta-study sounds compelling because it critiques different research reasonably than simply counting on one single research. Besides, whenever you learn the research by Traci Sitzman (be aware: it’s not Tracy, it’s Traci) you’ll study what they actually discovered:

[…] According to principle, put up coaching self-efficacy was 20% increased, declarative information was 11% increased, procedural information was 14% increased, and retention was 9% increased for trainees taught with simulation video games, relative to a comparability group. Nonetheless, the outcomes present robust proof of publication bias in simulation video games analysis.

Total, it’s constructive. However how did this 9% retention charge flip into 90%? For those who’re desirous about digging deeper into video games and gamification myths, I’ve spent a full article on that [2].

That mentioned, microlearning (mentioned within the earlier half), with the mix of spaced retrieval over time, video games, and gamification utilized accurately in alignment with efficiency targets can and ought to be in your design toolkit. I’m simply not satisfied that novice studying designers have the time and experience to dig by way of all these snake oil stats to search out the reality behind them.


One of many components of video games and gamification that delivers on engagement is shock. Of their ebook, Shock: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Surprising, Tania Luna and Dr. LeeAnn Renninger discover their analysis findings and shock you a large number:

By way of colourful narratives and compelling scientific findings, authors Tania Luna and Dr. LeeAnn Renninger shine a lightweight on the world’s least understood and most intriguing emotion. They reveal how shifting our notion of shock lets us thrive within the face of uncertainty. They usually present us how shock acts as a shortcut that turns a typical product right into a significant expertise, a good suggestion right into a viral one, awkward small speak into partaking dialog, and day by day life into an journey.


Feelings are sometimes overlooked of studying design as a result of we’d like area for all of the content material “to cowl.” Do you know which you could design shock as effectively? The authors do an incredible job explaining the phases of shock by way of their analysis and what can go unsuitable along with your “engineered design.” On a private degree, I loved the authors’ writing model as effectively. And talking of feelings, this research-based TED talk (or ebook) by Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett is a should:

For the previous 25 years, psychology professor Lisa Feldman Barrett has mapped facial expressions, scanned brains and analyzed tons of of physiology research to know what feelings actually are. She shares the outcomes of her exhaustive analysis—and explains how we could have extra management over our feelings than we expect.

Feelings are additionally on the middle of Nick Shackleton-Jones’s How Individuals Be taught: Designing Training and Coaching that Works to Enhance Efficiency by way of his 5Di affective context mannequin of studying. For those who’re on this user-centered design mannequin, begin with this brief video intro: you is perhaps shocked at how feelings play a job within the studying course of.


Humor can depend on shock as effectively. Good storytellers and public audio system use humor to drive house a degree, make us mirror, or simply enlighten the room. The query is, ought to we use humor in studying design to extend engagement? Connie Malamed has a well-written article on utilizing humor in studying. She walks us by way of among the execs and cons of this ingredient [3].

Banas (2011) sums it up effectively, “The clearest findings relating to humor and training concern using humor to create studying atmosphere. Using constructive, non-aggressive humor has been related to a extra attention-grabbing and relaxed studying atmosphere, increased teacher evaluations, higher perceived motivation to study, and pleasure of the course.”

Emotional engagement promotes higher recall and will increase perceived motivation to study. However provided that the humor is instantly associated to the actions and choices folks want on the job. If humor is just leisure to boost the content material, then it could actually develop into a distraction. The truth is, you’ll probably keep in mind the humorous script however not what the educational was about. I actually had this dialog with a colleague final yr, the place each of us recalled a humorous gross sales coaching (together with the characters and the scene) however neither of us might keep in mind what the subject was.

Humor And Brainstorming

One constructive aspect impact of humor is inventive pondering. Whenever you convey folks collectively to brainstorm, no person needs to give you concepts which might be laughable. However if you happen to intentionally ask for unsuitable or unattainable options, for instance, you’ll see examples of significantly better divergent pondering.

Mind-Based mostly Studying

I’ve to confess, again within the day, I used to be thrilled to find out about my neurons and mind chemical compounds resembling dopamine. I used to be amazed at how shortly I turned a neuroscientist of studying. Or not. At this time, I’m extra confused than ever about what we all know and what we don’t know in regards to the mind, and particularly the sensible implications of this for studying design. I’m nonetheless amazed by the assorted mind plasticity research and fMRI photos however we overgeneralize and misunderstand the findings.

What Is Mind-Based mostly Studying After All?

Isn’t all studying brain-based? Like foot-based strolling? Aren’t we simply unfortunate with labeling issues: microlearning isn’t about period; the 70:20:10 strategy isn’t in regards to the numbers; gamification isn’t about designing video games; and now, now we have brain-based studying. I did my greatest to search out the official definition of brain-based studying for office studying. All I can say is that it’s supposed to make use of the newest findings from neuroscience to information us on find out how to design brain-friendly studying experiences.

The Concept Vs. Observe

In principle, all of us agree it is very important design for the mind. In apply, nonetheless, we appear to disagree on how we put that principle into apply. The issue is that brain-based studying means various things for everybody. Once I posed this query on LinkedIn, lots of people chimed in with “to me…” solutions. The extra articles I learn on the subject, the extra I turned satisfied that it’s a mixture of already identified issues from studying science and cognitive psychology, together with overgeneralized particular lab findings. However then it will get worse. Articles check with studying kinds (debunked), goldfish reminiscences (debunked), visible brains processing info 60,000x sooner, elevating our dopamine by enjoying a recreation, and so forth. There was one identify that I ran into time and again: Abreena Tompkins.

“Physiologically, your neurons are eager and conscious for not more than 20 steady minutes,” says Abreena Tompkins, an instruction specialist. “Your neurons have gone from full-fledged alert to utter collapse throughout these 20 minutes, and it takes two to 3 minutes for them to get better and return to whole alert absolutely. You’ve shifted your focus if you happen to take a pause longer than three minutes [4].”

Wow! 20 minutes, precisely? How does Abreena Tompkins know that? Looking for brain-based options I saved working into references to Abreena Tompkins and her meta-study:

“Our brains are solely able to staying targeted for brief bursts of time. Abreena Tompkins understands this very effectively. She carried out an enormous meta-analysis of brain-based analysis on studying and concluded that “Physiologically, your neurons are eager and alert for not more than 20 consecutive minutes. On the finish of these 20 minutes, your neurons have gone from full-fledged alert to whole collapse…”

It isn’t solely clear how the paper choice course of occurred for her dissertation however it seems that brain-based studying was accepted “as is” with its personal class. The truth is, not one of the studying science papers talked about brain-based studying. Mind-based studying was its personal class [5]. The primary supply for the quotes above was truly Perry [6].

Studying requires consideration. And a spotlight is mediated by particular components of the mind. But, neural techniques fatigue shortly, truly inside minutes. With three to 5 minutes of sustained exercise, neurons develop into “much less responsive;” they want a relaxation (not not like your muscle mass whenever you carry weights). — Perry

Is It Truth Or A “Silver Bullet”?

Sadly, I couldn’t discover this paper anyplace. On a constructive be aware, Oprah and Dr. Bruce Perry simply got here out with a ebook! Is brain-based studying a reality or a silver bullet?

Irrespective of whether or not I agree with somebody’s opinion or not (so long as they’re based mostly on cited analysis), I at all times are inclined to dig for the other place to have a balanced view. Due to Paul A. Kirschner and Mirjam Neelen, I discovered the truth test about “Mind-Based mostly Bullocks” [7].

One of many key takeaways for me (and anybody whose audiences usually are not lab animals or paid grad college students in remoted research however reasonably folks within the messy office beneath competing priorities and sometimes unclear targets) is which you could’t simply seize some lab findings and pop it into the classroom. For instance, repetition is sweet for reminiscence and recall, however it could actually considerably cut back motivation. As a studying skilled it is advisable discover the stability, not simply based mostly on neurons and mind chemical compounds, but additionally on the truth within the office. In line with Daniel Willingham, neuroscience utilized to training is generally unimpressive [7].

Studying turned like sports activities the place everybody can have an opinion and technique with none information to remotely help it so long as it regarded scientific. I’m hopeful that within the subsequent decade we’ll study extra sensible issues in regards to the mind that we don’t know immediately. However now we have a protracted strategy to get there. At this time we’re not even making use of primary, evidence-based findings that we do know of.


Motion is extra partaking than static issues! Then let’s make issues transfer! Animation is for the rescue?

Animation isn’t one factor. It has totally different kinds. This may vary from arranging restricted, pre-drawn components to handcrafted masterpieces. Viewers could not essentially know (or ought to know) how a lot work goes into animations however there may be time, value, and high quality in danger if we don’t set expectations.

Animation doesn’t simply merely imply “transferring.” Animation is in regards to the story that’s depicted by the motion. The phrase “anima” means “soul.” For those who simply make one thing transfer for the sake of engagement and ignore the soul half, you’re not an animator, you’re a mover.

Does Animation Enhance Studying?

It could. In line with Connie Malamed, analysis is blended on utilizing animation. Most likely as a result of we use it for the unsuitable causes?

There are fairly a number of research that in contrast animation-based studying to studying from static graphics. In these research, the effectiveness of animation produced blended outcomes and a few outcomes had been even contradictory. On the down aspect, there have been a number of research that confirmed animation-based studying had no notable advantages in comparison with nonetheless graphics (Teversky et al., 2002).

When to make use of animation, then? In line with a meta-study, one of the crucial efficient methods to make use of animation is when the specifics of the displayed modifications themselves are the main focus of studying:

The outcomes of three meta-analyses present that the effectiveness of studying from animations, when in comparison with studying from static photos, is reasonably restricted. A current re-analysis of certainly one of these meta-analyses, nonetheless, helps that studying from animations is significantly more practical than studying from static photos if the specifics of the displayed modifications have to be realized [8].

From the angle of practicality, high-end animations (hand-drawn and custom-made) are one of the crucial costly and time-consuming components of studying design. Any little change request by stakeholders by way of the evaluate cycle can result in time and finances points.

What About Pre-Constructed Animation?

A typical use of animation is the illustration of a narrative or the “spicing” up of narratives. For that, hand-drawn animation could be too costly. What about pre-built animations resembling Renderforest, Animaker, PowToon, Moovly, or Vyond?

These choices can cut back the time to create animation however they arrive with restrictions. You may solely change what the applying lets you change. The opposite drawback is that seeing the identical characters and gestures time and again in several programs can dramatically cut back engagement.

For some, the cartoonish model of the animation is a no-go from the start. You may also use animation creatively. For instance, they will present the implications of your choices in a branching design.


After studying this text you could really feel like there is no such thing as a silver bullet for learner engagement. There isn’t. Not one of the mentioned approaches would work for all studying issues, all initiatives, and all over the place. Clark Quinn’s new ebook, MAKE IT MEANINGFUL: Taking Studying Design From Tutorial to Transformational, could supply extra actionable insights on the basic downside: no matter you design, it have to be significant for the viewers. In any other case, it does not matter what strategy you are taking. The approaches mentioned on this three-piece collection are instruments and strategies you should use together, to prepare dinner up the very best meal:

  • Like a very good chef, it is advisable use the proper components, on the proper time, in the proper recipe. For that, it is advisable have quite a lot of instruments and strategies, a pinch of creativity, and a great deal of evidence-based science.
  • It is advisable to begin cooking! You may’t watch a video or take heed to a podcast and never prepare dinner. Begin with what you may have now, and iterate.
  • Measure. Consider. Information insights in your particular mission trump any theoretical debate about what works and what does not. (Whereas correlation isn’t causation, correlations time and again are a reasonably good indicator of success.)

Ultimate Thought: Measurement

What will get measured, will get accomplished. What will get measured, will get designed for. Measuring self-importance metrics just like the variety of completions, time spent in coaching, satisfaction, and so forth., will make you design your studying otherwise than measuring the applying, the educational switch, and ultimately, the enterprise impression.

Studying isn’t the tip aim. Doing is. Studying means change. And alter is difficult when you may have different priorities competing for time and focus. Due to this fact, don’t waste your viewers’s time.


  1. Work backward from enterprise targets/efficiency gaps, beliefs, and so forth.
  2. Establish the specified behaviors (actions, choices, beliefs, and so forth.) and their actual boundaries. Don’t take with no consideration what management and administration say.
  3. Be proactive and consultative. Don’t wait till somebody involves you with a coaching want. It is going to be manner too late to do something aside from satisfying somebody’s mission plan with a “deliverable” they forgot to let you know about months earlier than.
  4. Tackle studying issues and alternatives with studying.
  5. For those who do determine that studying is the answer, deal with decision-making and process competence, not information recall or content material studying workouts.
  6. Create genuine eventualities that match each the expectations on the job for the function and likewise the abilities degree of the viewers. Scaffold the educational: novice learners want extra steering, consultants want extra autonomy.
  7. Use the mix of strategies mentioned to design related, difficult, and significant studying experiences that target the applying of studying on the job (studying switch).

P.S. What Questions Do You Nonetheless Have About Engagement And Motivation?

Certainly one of my unanswered questions is in regards to the function of self-efficacy. If you wish to discover motivation additional, I suggest studying in regards to the expectancy-value principle (EVT):

Motivation is affected by a number of elements, together with reinforcement for habits, however particularly additionally college students’ targets, pursuits, and sense of self-efficacy and self-determination. The elements mix to create two basic sources of motivation: college students’ expectations of success and the worth that college students place on a aim. Viewing motivation on this manner is commonly known as the expectancy-value mannequin of motivation.


[1] Why Games?

[2] Ramifications Of Gamification In Studying

[3] Does Humor Enhance Learning?

[4] Top 7 reasons why you should develop and deploy learning nuggets (bite-sized learning) in eLearning

[5] Brain-Based Learning Theory: An Online Course Design Model

[6] Perry, Bruce D., M.D., Ph.D. 2004. “How the Mind Learns Finest.” Teacher Journal.

[7] Brain-Based Bullocks

[8] When learning from animations is more successful than learning from static pictures: learning the specifics of change

Additional Studying;

This text is the third of a three-part collection exploring questions associated to studying, engagement, and methods to extend learner engagement. You may learn the primary article of the collection right here and the second article right here. 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:




More like this