Using Engagement Data to Visualize the “Doer Effect” and Improve Learning Gains

By Alison Pendergast, CMO, Acrobatiq; Benny G. Johnson, Ph.D., Director of Research and Development, Acrobatiq; and Rachel Van Campenhout, Director of Content, Acrobatiq

In 2015, cognitive scientists at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) sought to better understand whether “watching to learn” using video lectures — a popular approach used in many Massively Online Open Courses — produced differences in learning outcomes when compared to courses that stressed interactivity — or a “learn by doing” approach. “Learn by doing” is a course design methodology that emphasizes giving students frequent practice opportunities and feedback to help master learning objectives. In their research results, published in the Proceedings of the Second (2015) ACM Conference on Learning @ Scale, CMU researchers concluded that having students watch to learn offers limited value. The key takeaway was that students who do activities learn more than students who only watch video or read pages. The researchers summarized their findings as “The Doer Effect” — more doing yields better learning.

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