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Curiosity Modulation

Optimizing engagement by maintaining the level of curiosity across the training time.

A pivotal factor for a learner to continue dedicating time to efficiently finishing a course is to experience an elevated level of curiosity throughout the practice.

It has been shown that if the complexity of information presented to the learner is less than their expectations or their cognitive capacities, they feel boredom and on the other hand, if the learner is presented with information that is too complex, it would lead to levels of anxiety.

Hence the complexity of the information presented to each learner has to fall in a narrow range, where complexity is at a moderate level depending on the capacity of the learner; and only in this narrow range, the learning rate would stay maximized throughout the training.

Aside from modulating the complexity of the lessons, there are several other methods to keep the curiosity of the learners elevated throughout the training time.

One such method that the instructors can implement to reassure that their learners stay curious throughout the course is by posing open questions before delivering the lessons and letting them reflect and elaborate on the questions in a timely manner. This would engage the attention of the learners to mentally prepare the context of the upcoming lessons.

Another similar strategy to elevate the curiosity is to start the course by introducing surprises that would be addressed within the lessons.

And finally, it would be advantageous to demonstrate the roadmap to the learners on the highlights of the upcoming lessons and what questions they would be able to respond to by the end of the course.

At EdCortex, we accompany our clients to take steps in implementing these considerations and introduce methods to adjust the complexity of the information adapted to each learner to guarantee a maximal engagement and learning rate.

Curiosity Modulation

Left. Schematics of the interplay between the level of skill in contrast to the difficulty level of the tasks.

Right. Results of a simulation on the learning rate as opposed to the difficulty level. Note that the highest learning rate is attained when the difficulty level is modulated by the skill level, otherwise the learner’s performance decreases due to anxiety (too difficult tasks) or boredom (too easy tasks).

1. Kang, M. J., Hsu, M., Krajbich, I. M., Loewenstein, G., McClure, S. M., Wang, J. T.-y., & Camerer, C. F. (2009). The Wick in the Candle of Learning: Epistemic Curiosity Activates Reward Circuitry and Enhances Memory. Psychol. Sci., 20(8), 963–973. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02402.x

2. Wilson, R. C., Shenhav, A., Straccia, M., & Cohen, J. D. (2019). The Eighty Five Percent Rule for optimal learning. Nat. Commun., 10(4646), 1–9. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-12552-4.

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