Increase learner engagement using behavior models

by Evnisha Malani
on October 30, 2018

The process of learning is hard. Apart from complexity & poor design decisions, laziness is another dominant factor making learning difficult. Training managers need to remember that laziness is an innate nature. It will always be an obstacle in new learning experiences.

Behaviour models suggest that to induce a behaviour, learning should be less on effort and high on reward. They help you solve the most significant problem of all; learner engagement.

There are many behaviour theories and models but we have only experimented with three of the most effective ones, vis-a-vis:

  • Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle
  • Fogg Model
  • Hook Model

Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle

American educational theorist David A. Kolb published his theory of experiential learning in 1984. According to the theory, process of efficient learning happens in a cycle of experiences. He called it the ‘Experiential learning cycle’ which consists of four stages and four learning styles.

  • Concrete experience

The first stage is simple and obvious. If the learner needs to learn something, they have to engage themselves in a learning activity or an experience to begin with.

  • Reflective observation

Depending on the nature of the activity, learner will review the experience. The review must answer questions like how did they perform and what did they do right or wrong, et al.

  • Abstract conceptualization

By reviewing their activity learners can formulate new ideas or modify the existing abstract idea into a concrete concept.

  • Active experimentation

In this stage of experience cycle, learner uses the knowledge and observations obtained in earlier stages for experiments. Experiments allow learners to check the practical aspect of their understanding.

As per Kolb’s theory, you can profile your learners according to their learning styles. There are four learning styles:

1. Diverging learning style

Learners with diverging learning style have different perspective of things. They are emotional, observant, and imaginative. They like to work in groups and are open to feedbacks. These learners are good with concreting experience and reflective observation.

2. Assimilating learning style

Assimilating learners prefer clarity of information. They are analytical and logical. These learners are good with reflective observation and abstract conceptualization.

3. Converging learning style

Learners with this learning style are problem solvers, practical, technical, experimental, and unemotional. These are the traits which make them good at abstract conceptualization and active experimentation.

4. Accommodating learning style

Learners with accommodating learning style are rather intuitive than logical. They rely on others for information and tend to act on ‘gut’ instincts than logical analysis. Accommodating learners are good with concreting experience and active experimentation.

Profiling the learners according to their learning style improves engagement and the efficacy of the designed courses.

Kolb’s experiential cycle was published specifically for learners. Fogg and Hook behaviour model on the other hand leverage human behaviour for persuasive experience design. Using these behaviour models you can create learning experiences that are not just engaging but habit forming.

Fogg Model

The founder of Stanford behaviour design lab, Behaviour Scientist B.J. Fogg dedicated his life in understanding behaviour science. The behaviour model is the product of years of human behaviour research. Fogg’s behaviour model states that for an activity or behaviour to occur you need three things. Motivation, Ability, and a Trigger.

He further simplified the model in the equation B=MAT.

As BJ Fogg quotes in his every presentation ‘Simplicity changes behaviours’, using B=MAT equation you can encourage or change behaviours of your learners via simplicity.

Now what does Fogg mean by simplicity. He explains simplicity in one of his videos as making a behaviour as simple as possible. The more simple a behaviour, the more frequently it occurs. Removing the effort from a behavior brings convenience and aids easier repetition. As humans have a natural tendency to avoid or delay hard work, simplification tricks them into adaptation.

According to Fogg there are six elements of simplicity. These elements reduce one’s ability to perform a behaviour and minimizing the need of these resources can change behaviours.

  1. Time
  2. Money
  3. Physical effort
  4. Mental effort
  5. Social deviance
  6. Non-routine

Reduction in these elements will make your courses more readily available and engaging.

Hook Model

Nir Eyal referenced the Fogg behaviour model to create his Hook model for persuasive design. The ‘hook’ is so effective that tech giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon use it to design habit forming experiences. The basic principle behind the hook model is to give reminders in form of triggers, prompting users to perform an easy action which has a variable reward.

Triggers can be of two types, internal or external. Internal triggers are the emotional ones that prompt a user from within. External triggers are visual prompts that influence the user from the outside to perform a behaviour.

Hook model for Amazon’s Alexa

For instance Amazon’s Alexa uses a Hook model. Internal triggers like doubt and boredom prompt you to call Alexa. It rewards you with answers and instant entertainment to make you feel confident and entertained. These rewards make you habitual of the easy voice commands. Now, out of habit you invest your time and money ordering grocery, playing music, controlling lights and calling taxis via Alexa.

Using these behaviour models, companies like Amazon creates a user base that is hooked to their services. Designing training the same way for your learners is not easy but it’s not impossible either.

We have been implementing behaviour models to design training courses that use triggers, simple actions, and variable rewards. Gamification in custom LMS is an example of reward based behaviour model.

Behaviour models not only made the courses in the LMSs engaging but effective than before.

If you’re looking to change the way that your learners pursue learning, then get in touch with us.

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