The Science Behind The Effectiveness Of Microlearning

Microlearning Science Explore Its Effectiveness
Antonio Guillem/
Summary: This article will help you understand how the microlearning approach is more impactful than any other traditional method for eLearning.

Experience The Microlearning Science

Ever noticed how your attention wanders off midway through a meeting or lecture? Why can't people remember everything that they are being taught and trained to do? You may have a feeling that traditional learning methods aren’t the most valuable type. And to prove the point, recent studies have shown the deficiencies of these traditional methods and verified the effectiveness of a new approach: microlearning.

But, what is microlearning? What is the science behind the efficiency of this strategy? Let’s check it out!

What Is Microlearning?

Microlearning deals with short-term learning activities and small learning units. It is all about providing eLearning in short time bursts with engaging training material. Put simply, microlearning breaks the entire training material down into short and easily understandable components that tackle a single objective of learning. It makes it easier for learners to attain the information they need at their convenience.

The content of microlearning can be in several forms, i.e., texts, videos, images, audio, games, tests, and quizzes. But it should always be short and simple. One of the major advantages of microlearning is that it allows learners to learn a new skill and apply it immediately without disrupting their workflow.

However, convenience isn’t the only thing that microlearning offers. The reason why it is so popular and effective is it’s designed intentionally to support the process of storing information in our brain.

So, what is the science behind microlearning?

Science Behind Microlearning That Makes It Effective

Learning is contextual, dynamic, and personal. Learning is complicated and differs for each person. However, researchers have found the factors that affect our learning. These factors include the psychology of behaviorism, constructivism, cognitivism, and experientialism. But, what does each of them mean and how do they relate to microlearning? Let’s check it out.


Behaviorism is a psychological theory that assumes human behavior is shaped by the interaction with the environment through the conditioning process. Simply, it refers to our behavior as a response to environmental stimuli, positive or negative. Here, positive stimuli can be the "rewards" to prompt one to repeat that behavior and negative stimuli are "punishments" to discourage the behavior that helps learners to either repeat or neglect certain behavior.


Constructivism states that learners build knowledge instead of only taking information passively. As a person experiences the world and responds to those encounters, they create and incorporate their new understanding into their pre-existing knowledge. In simple terms, it defines that the preexisting knowledge of a person plays a vital role in their learning process. In microlearning, you can include open-ended questions and collaborative thinking to induce constructivism in a learner.


Cognitive psychology accepts that knowledge is gained through a systematic and symbolic approach. Learning is the result of the mental activities of a person, including their memory, thoughts, reflection, knowledge, problem-solving, and motivation. Lectures and reading are the common modalities of learning. Often a teacher transmits their knowledge; but how much one can absorb entirely depends on their capacity, efforts, beliefs, and motivation.

Experiential Learning

People only learn from their experiences. You cannot teach anyone but you can enable an experience from which a learner will pick according to their cognitive ability. With microlearning, you can create a micromodule that can trigger inspiration in a brainstorming session.

Moving To Evidence-Based Approach To Learning

Dr. Alice Kim, who is an expert in cognitive neuroscience and experimental psychology, states four strategies that enhance the memory of the learner: spaced repetition, retrieval practice, confidence-based assessment, and interleaving.

1. Spaced Repetition

Spaced repetition is an effective learning strategy where lessons are retaken at increasing intervals to help learners entirely embed the knowledge in long-term memory. It states that a person can remember information for the long run only when learning takes place in distributed sessions rather than one long, never-ending session. And microlearning enables you to break down complicated subjects into smaller chunks to deliver reinforcement activities in brief sessions to fit in the regular workflow.

2. Retrieval Practice

Retrieval practice is the approach that promotes learning by pulling information from the learner. It is a more effective method to boost long-term retention. With microlearning, you can add more learning activities, such as quizzes, to challenge the ability of a learner to solve the problem.

3. Confidence-Based Assessment

It measures the correctness of a learner’s knowledge and confidence in it. It is designed to increase retention and minimize guessing. It can help to achieve accurate and realistic judgment on the performance of learners. By making learning part of every day, one can support metacognition and help build confidence in people by reflecting on their development over time.

4. Interleaving

Interleaving practice refers to the learning of two or more related skills or concepts consecutively rather than just focusing on one skill at a time. It can be beneficial to alternate between them to mimic the real-world application and improve long-term memory. With microlearning, you can also specialize daily learning experiences to support the varied learning styles of learners.

Microlearning: The Future Of eLearning

The brain science of microlearning isn’t optional. It’s based on research and helps develop knowledge of people while learning a skill. So, it is a must to include the above-mentioned practices through modern learning approaches, like adaptive learning and microlearning, to help learners in maximizing their learning and do their best at work.