Consistency in learning: comforting or boring? (Part 2)

Consistency between courses

Desk with laptop open and the word trust on the screen

Last week I explored the reasons that consistency is important within a single course. This week I’ll look at whether it is just as important to maintain consistency from course to course.

For this post, I wanted to look at various perspectives like I did last week, but I struggled to find them. I already examined the perspective of cognitive theory last week, and I couldn’t find relevant information from the research on engagement. Therefore, I will focus today solely on the realm of marketing.

From the realm of marketing

I recently read an article by Shep Hyken about how Apple’s brand has developed fanatics. Although I’m actually not a fan of Apple, even I must admit they have done an excellent job roping in clients and making them devotees.

One of the 3 characteristics he discusses regarding branding is consistency. He states that “Customers want to know what to expect. A consistent, predictable experience gives the customer confidence.” (Hyken, 2018). Now, he isn’t just referring to the look of Apple, but also the interactions with the company. Regardless, consistency is important for marketing.

Another interesting article on consistency comes from the blog of Mighty Fine Design Co. This article discusses many important aspects of consistency in branding. A few of their points are really useful to learning experience designers.

Firstly, consistency builds trust. Secondly, consistency is comfortable. And thirdly, consistency is invisible. This last point was the most interesting to me. They state that when something is not consistent it makes us uncomfortable. We don’t always know why or what is inconsistent, but we know that it doesn’t quite fit.

This is a particularly valuable lesson when it comes to learning. Learners will subconsciously feel when a course just doesn’t quite match, and it can lead to an almost imperceptible negative emotion that ultimately suppresses learning. For more on how negative emotions suppress, check out the article by Margie Meacham.


Although the research related to inter-course consistency is slim, it does seem to lean in the direction of keeping things consistent. Personally, I flip flop on this issue frequently because I see pros and cons of a consistent look as well as mixing things up. I had hoped to have a more clear answer after my research this week, but things aren’t as clear-cut as I want them to be. What are your thoughts on consistency between courses: essential, pointless, or somewhere in between?


Hyken, S. (2018, Oct). Like Apple, you can excel in engagement, differentiation, and consistency. Retrieved from

Meacham, M. (2014, October). All Learning is Emotional. Retrieved from

Mighty Fine Design Co. (2018, September). Branding is all about consistency in design. Retrieved from