Go ahead – send out follow-up e-mails giving trainees a couple of questions. If your trainees are like those in a recent study, they’ll react positively to the electronic nudge, and engage the learning more.

Here’s the research: 42 students in a radiology program attended an eight-lecture course, one class per week.

On Week 3 of the lecture series, half the students received an e-mail containing a few multiple choice questions testing factual knowledge presented in the first lecture.

The students sent the answers back to the professors, who in turn corrected them and sent back the correct answers via e-mail. Similar tests were sent each week thereafter.

In self-reports after the course ended, students who received the e-mails reported spending four times as much time on the material outside of class as the control group did. They also ranked the course value higher than the control group did.

(Note: This study didn’t report post-test scores, but similar studies have shown that this kind of follow-up usually improves test results, too.)

Source: Nkenke, E., et al. (2012). Spaced education activates students in a theoretical radiological science course: a pilot study, BMC Medical Education 2012, 12:32.

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