Recipe for eLearning: A Letter from Research Rockstar’s Director of eLearning Curriculum

One day when my nephew was 8 years old, he brought cupcakes to elementary school.  The teacher asked him who made the cupcakes.  Unflinchingly, he replied “Betty Crocker.”  While his classmates may not have chuckled, his teacher certainly did.  Similarly, whether you “bake” from scratch or out of a box, the recipe for good eLearning starts with preparation.

When I joined Research Rockstar in October 2014, the President had a goal to upgrade the self-paced classes offered from its website,  The company already had over twenty excellent courses offered as “live” instructor-led virtual classes, and as self-paced ones—covering a wide range of qualitative and quantitative market research topics.

But the President, Kathryn Korostoff, was clear: it was time to raise the bar on self-paced learning for the market research industry. She gave me a mission: continue delivering the same high-quality content while improving student comprehension and retention. Oh, and keep it fun.

I knew this would be harder than “just add water.” Still, at least I had a library of existing, great content with which to work, and for eLearning developers like myself, that’s not always the case.

To get started, I did three things:  (1) audited existing classes, (2) reviewed current documentation (workbooks and related student reference materials) (3) and developed a set of selection criteria I would use to make sure we chose the best tool for Research Rockstar’s goals (the company had outgrown the software previously used to develop its self-paced classes).

Selecting an eLearning Authoring Tool

There is no shortage of eLearning authoring tools and each one has an array of features, enhancements, templates and options. And ultimately, they are all aimed at supporting instructional design, allowing the eLearning developer to create a storyboard and give the course a “voice” so that the learner will be engaged.

After analyzing various products, I narrowed our short list to two: Lectora and Storyline. I then did trials of each, so that I could get hands-on and see which one would best meet our selection criteria. I created samples, and quickly identified some differences.

While both products are excellent, we settled on Lectora. It’s a popular, robust eLearning authoring tool which provides a wide range of features such as importing existing PowerPoint slides, designing custom animations, sectioning segments within a course, supporting an assortment of quiz question types (multiple choice, hot spots, drag and drop, true/false) and generating a Certificate upon successful course completion. As a developer, I found it powerful and easy to work with. Kathryn was also particularly happy with Lectora’s collaborative reviewing tool, ReviewLink.

Preparing Self-paced eLearning for Research Rockstars

The key ingredient to good eLearning is engaging the learner by way of activities.  Through various learning modes—audio, video, visual and kinesthetic—the learner becomes involved in the process. Some studies indicate that interactivity can boost the overall knowledge retention rate to anywhere from 50% to 90%. Compare this to the training industry’s average knowledge retention rate of 5% to 30%, and you see how interactivity can improve results.  So over the next few months, I’ll be working to transition Research Rockstar’s self-paced classes to the Lectora platform while adding multimedia content and animations to showcase scenario-based learning.  Thus, I intend to improve comprehension and retention rates for our market research training students1.While keeping it fast, fun and convenient, of course.


As the newest member of the Research Rockstar team, I welcome any feedback and suggestions.

Contact me at or at 508.691.6004 ext 706.

Debra Mascott’s recipe for good eLearning:

  1. One package of good content (substantiated by Subject Matter Experts)
  2. One solid, robust, authoring tool (to provide multimedia, interactivities, questions and flexibility).
  3. One instructional designer to give the course a voice, follow adult learning theory, highlight clear performance objectives, create engaging activities, and reinforce concepts with  summaries.
  4. Sprinkle activities, multimedia, audio, video, characters and knowledge checks to bolster the material.

Mix all four ingredients and it may come out just as delicious as my nephew’s Betty Crocker cupcakes.



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110 Ways to Handle Project Overload

Rent-a-ResearcherEnd of year can be a surprisingly busy time for market researchers. Some clients have “left over” budget they need to spend. Others are trying to get a head start on 2015. And then you get a few of those “rush” projects that seem to pop up at the worst possible times.

What if you could temporarily expand your research team with the precise skills you need to cover these temporary spikes? You can.

And we have 110 ways to do it. Or, to be precise, 110 people.

Rent-a-Researcher Program Now 110 Consultants Strong

We have had over 230 people apply to become Rent-a-Researcher consultants. Of these, 46% passed our 15-step screening process.

That means we have 110 people available to help you by the hour, day or project. You “rent” our researchers to do the precise work you need. And since this is a staffing service, you never have to worry about 1099s, insurance or employee status questions.

Report Production, SPSS, IDIs, Ethnography & More

Our Rent-a-Researcher consultants represent diverse qualitative and quantitative skills. You just tell us what skills you need, and we give your our three best matches. You get to phone interview and select your candidates.

Market research project overload can be stressful. But by temporarily expanding your team with the precise skills you need, you can increase capacity without making long-term commitments.

Check out our Rent-a-Researcher Infographic to learn more about our consultants.

Want temporary research help?
Contact Nancy by
Phone: (508) 691-6004 Ext 703
Or fill out our simple form here.


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Is Your Market Research the Functional Equivalent of an iToaster?

If you really want people to be excited for your next market research report, take a lesson from other companies that enjoy product launch excitement.Good Looking Woman Serving Breakfast In Kitchen

Let’s use Apple as an example. Sure Apple has a loyal fan base that would get excited if it launched an iToaster. But the company enjoys a broader base because it consistently raises the bar on ease of use and innovation. If Apple started launching new products with dramatically less intuitive user interfaces and featuring stale technology, its new launch momentum would be lost. And quickly.

How can we apply Apple’s momentum lessons to market research?

We need to show people that we researchers are raising the bar on ease of use and innovation.

The Market Research User Interface

Research can be complicated, especially to those people who may not be used to receiving it. What’s the market research equivalent of an intuitive user interface? The deliverables. And to learn more about this topic, you are invited to join me and 150 of my closest New England-based market research friends at the New England MRA (NEMRA) chapter event, coming up November 18thin Waltham, where these two speakers will be presenting:

  • Katie Cleary of Campbell Soup will present, “The Future of Research Reporting – Telling our Consumers’ Stories.” Ms. Cleary is a Manager in the Consumer and Customer Insights Department at Campbell Soup Company. In her current role, she performs primary and secondary research for beverages and is responsible for research on the V8 brand. She brings a critical point of view as a market researcher within a large CPG company, and she is passionate about the future of market research reporting being essential to conveying consumer stories.
  • Charlie Richards of Tonic Insight USA will present, Behavioral Economics & Insight – Revolutionizing Inputs and Outputs.” In this unique presentation, Mr. Richards will talk about applying behavioral economics concepts to both the initiation and delivery of research—leveraging BE throughout the market research process. With a unique background in anthropology and research, he specializes in applying an understanding of consumer decision-making to deliver business utility.

Market Research Innovation

The market research version of innovation isn’t necessarily technology (though it can be). In fact, some of the most dramatic innovations in research right now are more about “thinking” than “doing.” Two key areas of innovation in how we think about research are 1) behavioral economics and 2) unconscious decision making. The two topics actually do intersect a bit. And to learn more about them, you gussed it, please come to NEMRA’s upcoming event. There, you will hear from three expert speakers:

  • Rob Duboff from HawkPartners will present, “Behavioral Economics: Rebooting Market Research for the 2000s.” With previous leadership roles at firms such as Ernst & Young and Mercer Management Consulting, Mr. Duboff has experience working with numerous forward-thinking organizations. He has taught numerous courses on strategy and marketing, and co-authored the book, Market Research Matters. He has also published in The Harvard Business Review, Marketing Management, and other leading magazines.
  • Namika Sagara, Ph.D, Behavioral Scientist, Duke Visiting Scholar, will present, “The Irrational Consumer: Understanding the Consumer Decision Making Process Using Behavioral Economics.” Ms. Sagara is a uniquely qualified speaker; she is a consultant working with universities and companies to conduct research and apply academic insights from the field of behavioral economics and consumer psychology to real-world issues. Her work has been published in prestigious magazines including the Guardian and Science Daily.
  • Charles Swann of LRW will present, “Non-Conscious Decision Making,” where he will dive into why understanding the non-conscious and emotional motivations behind a consumer’s decision making process can help market researchers. As an experienced market research professional, Mr. Swann helps organizations identify practical applications. And as he says himself, he’ a bit obsessed with having business impact.

Delivering a new research report is a lot like launching a new product. We want our product, the research results, to be embraced enthusiastically and put to good use. Join us on November 18th to learn from these and other speakers about how innovative thinking and user interface applies to more than computers and cell phones.

NOTE: Ticket prices start at $139. That’s a whole day of education and networking, for one low price. You can register today. Visit


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Article Synopsis: How to Link Customer Loyalty to Profits

Quirks July 2014
How to Link Customer Loyalty to Profits
By Michaela Mora

“Can’t get no (customer loyalty insights) satisfaction?”  Don’t just listen to the Rolling Stones; take the advice of Michaela Mora. In this article she discusses how two key elements in customer research, customer satisfaction and likelihood to recommend, must be analyzed along with data on customers’ actions in order to link these two elements to loyalty.  All too often, Mora observes, clients look for indicators that directly contribute to company profits, therefore rushing to conclusions.

The author cautions that customer satisfaction does not lead directly to motivation to purchase. Often, “…first-time purchases are filled with expectations and the product’s ability to meet them will have an impact on satisfaction but not always on repeat purchases.”  Additionally, dissatisfied customers may continue to still buy a product for a variety of reasons, including contractual obligations (subscriptions); lack of available alternatives; lack of drive to research other products; or price. Alternatively, satisfied customers may discontinue purchasing products for a variety of factors.  Thus, we know that satisfaction is not the only predictor of future purchasing.

Another hot topic in customer research is NPS (Net Promoter Score), based on self-reported likelihood to recommend as a measure of loyalty. However, as the author points out, respondents may give high recommendation scores at the same time they give low satisfaction scores, as satisfaction and recommendations are often driven by different factors. And haven’t we all seen cases where we may be satisfied with a product but not willing to recommend it—perhaps because it is from a category that is too personal, or because we don’t want to share an “inside” tip? As Mora says, NPS scores alone may be an oversimplification in some cases.

Further, Mora points out that it is easy to make erroneous connections between customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and profitability: “To make loyalty an actionable concept and link it to profits, companies should take into account the value contributed by customers… Repeat customers driven by deals and discounts are unlikely to be profitable and are far from being loyal.”


This synopsis was written by Lynn Croft, independent marketing and market research consultant. With 15 years of experience at companies such as Genzyme, Bayer Corporation, Shire, and Eli Lilly, Lynn has expertise in market research, market analysis regarding product launches, pricing and lifecycle management. 





Article Synopsis: Quantitative or Qualitative Research Methods, Let’s Go Back to the Basics

Quirk’s October 2014
“Quant or qual, let’s go back to the basics”
By Kevin Gray

Kevin Gray’s article is chock full of tips, reminding market researchers to pay as much attention to “how they think” as they do to what research methods they use. He offers his thoughts on what he calls “research thinking.”

Gray breaks research thinking into specific parts: verifying data, defining relationships, understanding and avoiding data interpretation traps, and probabilities versus categories.  In verifying data, not only must researchers be sure to uncover flaws in the raw data, but also be aware of inferring cause and effect relationships. Additionally, when investigating relationships within data, different statistical methods and models can give different readings.  Gray states, “Causation requires correlation of some kind but correlation and causation are not the same.”

When looking at probabilities and categories, Gray cautions the researcher to, “Avoid confusing the possible with the plausible and the plausible with fact. It’s also not difficult, though, to miss something of genuine practical significance that lies hidden beneath the surface of our data.”

Additional tips from the author:

  • Do your homework. Many phenomena have more than one cause.
  • When designing research, first consider who will be using the results, how the results will be used and when they will be used, and then work backward into the methodology. Don’t let the tools be the boss. 
    • This point really resonates; in today’s world, researchers can get distracted by technology that may or may not have merit.  So it is easy to select the shiny new tool even if it is not the right fit.

Two more great tips:

  • Develop hypotheses, even rough ones, to help clarify your thinking when designing research.
    • This  may sound obvious but it is often overlooked. As a result, we have all seen cases of muddy thinking resulting in weak research.
  • Take care not to over-interpret data.
    • Or, as some researchers say, “don’t beat your data to death.”

Gray’s tips are a good reminder to market researchers to be aware of their “research thinking.”

This synopsis was written by Lynn Croft, independent marketing and market research consultant. With 15 years of experience at companies such as Genzyme, Bayer Corporation, Shire, and Eli Lilly, Lynn has expertise in market research and market analysis regarding product launches, pricing and lifecycle management.