Research Studies

Evaluating Learner Motivation, Engagement and Retention

Research Studies


Hughes MC, McCulloch E, Valdes E. The Impact of Story-Based Video Back Injury Prevention Training on Employee Motivation, Engagement, Knowledge, and Behavior. Occupational Health Science. 2018:1-2.

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M. Courtney Hughes PhD, MS

Senior Researcher, Relias

Emaley McCulloch M.Ed., BCBA

Vice President, Relias Institute, Relias

Elise Valdes PhD, MS

Director of Research, Relias


Occupational Health, May 2018

Research Partner

Edgewood Management Group, Creative Solutions in Healthcare


This study examined the impact of story-based back injury prevention video training on learner motivation, engagement, and knowledge. The proliferation of greater access to and investment in online learning creates more opportunities for video instruction. Developing video instruction—especially story-based modules utilizing creative writers, actors, set, costumes, etc.—requires a greater investment in resources, namely time and cost. In a randomized controlled trial, we examined a story-based online training on the topic of back injury prevention delivered at two long-term care healthcare companies. The control group received a non-story-based online training on back injury prevention that had the same content outline and duration but differed from the story-based video training in delivery.

The intervention training had a fun format and office-set vignettes while the control group training showed text and diagrams with voiceover explanations. The study did not show the differences in motivation, engagement, and retention that one might expect from a course with more engagement elements such as stories and vignettes. To determine which topics are best for developing sophisticated online training, we recommend future research using large sample sizes examining story-based video for a variety of topics including topics that may affect learner emotions more such as end-of-life care or in which learners have little prior knowledge.