BeSci is THE Answer to “Why People Do What They Do

Have you ever signed up for a course on Coursera or EdX, duolingo brimming with enthusiasm, only to find yourself losing steam halfway through? You’re not alone! Completing online courses (MOOCs) can be a challenge. But what if I told you there’s a science behind understanding why people make decisions, including educational ones?

Understanding Ourselves (and Others) Better

Psychology might be the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about understanding human behavior. But behavioral science takes it a step further. It’s like a detective kit combining psychology, economics, and other social sciences to crack the code of human decision-making. It’s not about why we think we do things, but about why we actually do them.

Practicality Proof for Same:

  • The World Bank uses behavioral science to tackle poverty, nudging people towards saving for the future.
  • HSBC uses it to analyze customer behavior, leading to better financial products and services.
  • Swiggy leverages it to design user-friendly apps, making food ordering a breeze.
  • Divya Thakur uses it to boost her personal branding and course sell.

The applications are endless!

Ashok Vadapav in Dadar, Mumbai is a prime example of the power of social proof in action (See below for visuals). Despite the seemingly basic taste of their 30 Rs Vadapav, people from all walks of life—rich, middle class, and poor—stand in long queues, regardless of rain or dust from nearby construction. The secret to their popularity lies in their renowned Chura Chutney masala, a side condiment that has become a cult favorite.

This phenomenon demonstrates how social proof drives consumer behavior: when a product is perceived as popular, it attracts even more attention and customers. Just as studies show that labeled “most popular” restaurant meals are chosen more frequently, the sight of a bustling queue at Ashok Vadapav signals to passersby that this must-try snack is worth the wait, thereby continuously reinforcing its popularity and driving further consideration.

Ashok Vadapav Corner, Dadar (Mumbai)

Why Behavioral Science is the Future:

Miscommunication and misunderstandings are often the root cause of conflict and mismanagement. By understanding how people make choices, we can bridge these gaps and create a smoother flow in various aspects of life.

This is where my passion for EdTech comes in. As an educator with over 7 years of experience, I’ve witnessed firsthand the struggle of keeping learners engaged in online courses.

Various Models under Behavioral Science

Here’s a breakdown of some popular behavior change models with specific MOOC examples:

1. EAST Framework (The Behavioural Insights Team):

  • Easy: Break down complex topics in the MOOC on data analysis into smaller, manageable modules with clear instructions and step-by-step tutorials.
  • Attractive: Use visually appealing infographics and interactive exercises to keep learners engaged. Showcase real-world applications of data analysis in various industries.
  • Social: Encourage peer-to-peer learning through forums and discussion boards where learners can ask questions and share insights.
  • Timely: Implement reminder notifications for upcoming deadlines and assessments. Offer live Q&A sessions with instructors at convenient times for a global audience.

2. B=MAP Model (BJ Fogg, PhD):

  • Motivation: As mentioned earlier, highlight the career opportunities that come with mastering data analysis in the MOOC. Feature interviews with data analysts in various fields to showcase the impact of the skill.
  • Ability: Focus on making the learning materials clear and accessible. Offer tiered exercises with increasing difficulty to cater to learners with varying levels of experience. Provide cheat sheets and downloadable resources for quick reference.
  • Prompt: Integrate short quizzes and interactive activities at the end of each module to reinforce learning and nudge learners to continue. Send personalized emails with encouragement and progress reports.

3. COM-B Model (Dr. Susan Michie):

  • Capability: The MOOC on data analysis should offer well-structured learning materials with clear learning objectives. Provide opportunities for practice through interactive coding exercises and real-world case studies.
  • Opportunity: Create a supportive learning environment within the MOOC. Offer opportunities for collaboration on projects and peer feedback through forums and discussion boards.
  • Motivation: Highlight the personal benefits of mastering data analysis, such as increased problem-solving skills and career advancement. Encourage learners by showcasing success stories of past MOOC graduates who landed data analysis jobs.

4. 3B Model (Irrational Labs): (Behaviour, Barrier, Benefits)

Applying the 3B Model to Reduce Drop-Out Rates and Increase Engagement in MOOCs

Step 1: Identify One Key Behavior:

Target Behavior: Complete a short (10-15 minute) learning activity (quiz, exercise, video lecture) at least once every 3 days within the MOOC platform.

Step 2: Reduce Barriers:

  • Simplify Access: Make the MOOC accessible on various devices (mobile app, desktop) for on-the-go learning.
  • Bite-Sized Learning: Break down complex topics into short, manageable modules.
  • Pre-loaded Activities: Pre-load the next learning activity (quiz, exercise) at the end of each completed module to avoid decision fatigue.
  • Offline Access: Offer downloadable materials (lecture notes, cheat sheets) for offline learning during commutes or breaks.

Step 3: Amplify Benefits:

  • Progress Tracking: Implement a clear progress bar or visual tracker showing completion milestones and remaining activities.
  • Gamification: Integrate gamification elements like badges for completing activities and leaderboards to foster a sense of accomplishment and healthy competition.
  • Streak Tracking: Highlight completed activity streaks with visual cues and motivational messages to encourage continued engagement.
  • Personalized Recommendations: Based on activity completion, recommend relevant learning paths or connect users with mentors/study groups to create a sense of community and belonging.

By applying these behavior science models, MOOCs can be transformed from passive learning experiences to engaging journeys that truly empower learners with new skills.

This is just a glimpse into the exciting world of behavioral science. With its ever-growing demand, there’s no better time to delve into this fascinating field. My PhD research focuses on harnessing the power of behavioral science to revolutionize EdTech, and I’m beyond excited to contribute to making online learning a truly engaging and empowering experience for everyone!