variety of employees behind the wheel

Put Learners In The Driver’s Seat…They Love It

Fulcrum Labs
138 posts


When are you more engaged – when you’re driving the car or when you’re a passenger?

It turns out where you sit in the metaphorical car is pretty significant. When people feel that they’re in control – or that they’re in the driver’s seat – they are much more engaged, more attentive and they even perform better. But when people are “just along for the ride,” it’s much easier for them to tune out and become distracted.


Control & Choice in Life


It’s not just road warriors who benefit from being in the driver’s seat. In fact, psychology has long told us how essential a sense of control is to almost every aspect of our lives – including our physical and mental health and even our happiness.


Control & Choice in Learning


It turns out that a sense of control is also critical to effective learning. In fact, researchers examining the role of control in learning have made some pretty astonishing findings:

Studies have shown that learners, who have opportunities to assert control, self-direction and choice over their learning experience, are more intrinsically motivated, feel more competent regarding the content, and perform better on exams. Research also shows that providing learners with choices enhances their attention and engagement, and can help deepen long-term memory consolidation. Additionally (as if that wasn’t proof enough), learners who have more control over their own learning:

  • Complete more learning tasks in less time[1]
  • Demonstrate higher level engagement with learning topics over time[2]
  • Demonstrate more innovative thinking[3]and greater ownership over their learning[4]
  • Continue working even on relatively uninteresting tasks[5]


Building Choice into Corporate Learning


So how can L&D build more choice into their learning programs?

Many companies today try to give learners some control over what they learn. These organizations encourage employees to explore content libraries, access content that interests them and grow into lifelong learners. While this is a great example of putting learners in the driver’s seat, it’s a limited one.

That’s because there are things that employees have to know to be productive, efficient and safe, and these might not always be the topics that learners choose to engage with. For example, a manufacturing line employee may never choose to go through OSHA training, but they still need to understand OSHA safety standards to do their job well.  Learners simply can’t always control content choices when it comes to need-to-know information.

Fortunately, content isn’t the only “control” option that’s available. Here are a three other ways to incorporate more choice throughout your learning programs and put your learners in the driver’s seat:

Pathway Choice– Give learners a say in how they learn by allowing them to choose their own learning pathway.

Within our platform, one of the ways that employees can control their pathway is by choosing how they want to engage with the content.  Through our multimodal access feature, learners can:

Read content (think text and images, like an ebook)

Watch content (via video, motion graphics, animation such as Camtasia, Articulate 360 storyline, AR/VR-enabled training or any other form of multimedia content)

Go straight into practice assessments, or

Do a combination of all three

These modalities give learners the autonomy to determine the right path for themselves based on their goals, existing knowledge and predispositions. So, if a learner wants to get a feel for what’s being asked of them before they jump into the content, our platform allows them to check out the practice assessments first.

Additionally, if a learner has deep experience in the topic, they might want to demonstrate their knowledge from the outset, rather than slogging through information they already know. Again, this employee could directly access the practice questions rather than reading or watching the material.

We’ve found that this approach not only helps employees learn the content faster (up to 55%), but it also makes them more engaged and more satisfied. In fact, our clients report that their learners love the choice and control that our platform offers.


“All three modalities together were a good combination. They complimented each other for a well-rounded learning experience.” 

– Fulcrum Compliance Trainee


Control Of Course Pace – Another way that you can provide more opportunities for choice is by letting learners set the pace of their own learning. Giving learners the autonomy to focus their attention where they see fit gives them power over their learning process. This is incredibly important. Indeed, andragogy shows that adult learners are most likely to stay engaged when they have the power to make decisions about their learning path. In our platform, we leverage a competency-based approach that lets each learner control their individual pace. As soon as a learner is able to prove mastery, they can move on, but they are never rushed to advance before they’re ready.


“I love being able to go at my own pace.”

– Fulcrum Test Prep Student


Choice of Device & Location– As new software and hardware enter the corporate training space, not every training event has to take place within the classroom. Giving employees ways to access training from their desk, at home, or even on their mobile device as they take the train into work is a low effort way to give them a much stronger feeling of control over their own learning. This is one reason why we’ve made the mobile version of our application just as dynamic, robust and effective as the browser-based version. It’s not Fulcrum lite, just Fulcrum compact.


“It’s very, very efficient.” 

–Fulcrum Indoctrination Trainee


Putting learners in the driver’s seat doesn’t just improve learning and business outcomes, this autonomy also improves the well being of your employees and fosters lifelong learning. We’d love to show you more about the “learner choices” designed within Fulcrum’s personalized, adaptive platform. Let’s connect and set up a demo today.



[1]Margaret C. Wang and Billie Stiles, “An Investigation of Children’s Concept of Self-Responsibility for Their School Learning,” American Educational Research Journal,

[2]Richard de Charms, “Personal Causation Training in the Schools,” Journal of Applied Social Psychology

[3]Teresa M. Amabile and Judith Gitomer, “Children’s Artistic Creativity: Effects of Choice in Task Materials,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

[4]Robert G. Rainey, “The Effects of Directed Versus Non-Directed Laboratory Work on High School Chemistry Achievement,” Journal of Research in Science Teaching

[5]Three studies to this effect are cited in John Condry, “Enemies of Exploration: Self-Initiated Versus Other-Initiated Learning,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology