5 recent scientific studies with interesting implications for learning and development

July 24, 2017 3:12 am Published byAzesta

1.We should maybe add a few sprints into our workshops…

Bernward Winter and his colleagues tested participants’ ability to learn new made-up words for objects after either two intense sprints of three-minutes length, 40 minutes of gentle running or rest. Learners were able to learn 20 per cent faster after the sprints compared with the other conditions, and they showed superior memory retention when tested again a week later. Writing in the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, the researchers said the blood measures they took suggested that the participants’ enhanced learning performance after sprints may have been associated with increased levels of dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine and BDNF. “This [finding] is pertinent to the organisation of learning-supportive environments, e.g., in schools” the researchers said.

10 Ways That Running Changes Your Mind and Brain

2. Before we give theoretical input or get participants to watch a video, we should give them pre-questions

A new study in the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition suggests that answering pre-questions may be a simple and effective way to boost learning from videos and perhaps short lectures too. Shana Carpenter and Alexander Toftness asked students to watch a short video. Some were given a couple of pre-questions per two minutes of the video and the control group weren’t. All students were then given 12 questions to ask about the video content, and the pre-question group outperformed the others even on questions they hadn’t been asked to look out for previously.

It appears that the pre-questions help students to focus better on the content.

Here’s a simple way to boost your learning from videos: the “prequestion”

3. We should refrain from allowing our participants to vent about the workplace

Researchers Evangelia Demeroutia and Russell Cropanzano writing in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology discovered that complaining about complaining about negative events actually cements their impact. The research involved 112 unemployed people keeping diaries

about how much they had engaged in complaining, how much they’d been focused on what was wrong with the situations they’d been in, and finally, how much they’d tended to make mountains out of molehills. When scores for this were high, negative events took a greater toll on participants – they not only reported lower mood and less satisfaction and pride with the work they’d been doing that same day, but they also tended to experience lower mood the next morning, measured in a separate diary entry, and lower pride in next-day accomplishments. When participants hadn’t complained, escalated minor issues, or stewed over things too much – bad events, even if rated as severe, didn’t impact mood or work engagement, that day or the next. Demeroutia and Cropanzano recommend more constructive methods like expressive writing, which has an evidence base showing success in making sense of negative experience.

Workplace venting makes it harder to bounce back from bad experiences

4. We should make sure there are opportunities for discussion that do not involve direct eye contact for example while walking

A pair of Japanese researchers say that eye contact has a ‘unique effect’ on our ‘cognitive control processes’. Essentially they discovered that mutual gaze is so mentally stimulating that it can be tricky to think straight and maintain eye contact at the same time. In their new paper in Cognition, Shogo Kajimura and Michio Nomura tested whether eye contact interferes with our ability to generate verbs in a word task, and discovered that it does when the task is difficult. Participants were asked to look directly at a stranger’s face shown on-screen, while simultaneously performing an auditory verb generation task. Six men’s and women’s faces featured in the study, and were shown either looking straight at the participant or with their gaze averted. Each trial, the participant looked at the face, heard a noun, then their task was to respond out loud with a verb that could be used with the noun in a sentence.

The key result is that participants were much slower at the verb generation task when making eye contact with the face on-screen, as opposed to when the face’s gaze was averted, but only in the most difficult version of the verb generation task, when retrieval and selection demands were high.

The researchers said the results are consistent with the idea that eye contact drains our more general cognitive resources.

Why it’s hard to talk and make eye contact at the same time

5. We should make sure that we don’t bring participants as if they’re male it could be bad for their career

According to new research in the Journal of Applied Psychology, crying could spell bad news for your career prospects if you are a man.

Daphna Motro and Aleksander Ellis from the University of Arizona recruited 169 adults based in the US and presented them with one of several versions of a 6-minute video showing a performance evaluation of a grocery store manager named Pat: a scripted role performed by actors in their early twenties, a male one in some videos, a female one in others. The evaluation wasn’t good: Pat had recently been rude, frequently late, and oversaw declining sales. In some versions of the video, this feedback was too much, provoking male or female Pat to tears. After viewing participants rated the male crying Pat lower for competence and fitness for leadership. Men and women both made these harsher judgments of male criers. When asked to write Pat a recommendation, what they wrote for the crying male Pat was significantly more negative than for the male Pat who didn’t cry, whereas for the female Pat results were similar. It seems that when men cry, it violates cultural expectations that they should be firm and in control. The new experimental data suggest that, at least in simplified scenarios, this effects our evaluations of and actions toward crying men.

Men: this study suggests it’s a really bad idea to cry in front of your colleagues

A big thanks to the BPS digest which was the source of all 5 of these pieces of research. I have included links and recommend you all sign up!

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