The moderating role of additional information when learning with animations compared to static pictures
In research on learning with animations compared to static pictures usually very short and narrowly defined topics are chosen. However, in school contexts such topics are often extended by additional information (i.e., information that is related to a given topic, but not essential for this topic). In the current study, that took place in a school context, it was investigated which role additional information would play when learning with animations compared to static pictures. It was hypothesized that there would be a beneficial effect of the animation, that additional information would impede learning the original topic and that the beneficial effect of the animation compared to the static picture would be even more pronounced when additional information is presented compared to when no additional information is given. A 2 × 2 between-subject design, with visualization format (animation vs. static picture) and additional information (present vs. absent) as independent variables, was used (N = 199 high school students). Learning outcomes were analysed by means of a focal contrast analysis that corresponded to the stated hypotheses. Results revealed that the hypotheses were not met for factual knowledge tasks, but for transfer tasks: Additional information hindered learning, and the advantage of the animation over the static picture was more pronounced when additional information was presented. However, it should be noted that learners receiving additional information performed better on questions about the additional information than learners without additional information. Implications of these results are discussed.
Preservice teachers face the challenge of integrating multiple types of knowledge, such as pedagogical–psychological knowledge and subject-specific pedagogical knowledge. We investigated whether prior instruction emphasizing the importance of knowledge integration (relevance instruction) supports preservice teachers in using both knowledge types simultaneously. Seventy-two preservice music teachers participated in this computer-based study. They worked on two separate lectures about learners’ beliefs. One lecture contained pedagogical–psychological knowledge; the other contained music-specific pedagogical knowledge. The preservice teachers received either a relevance instruction before starting a new lecture or a control instruction. We found that the relevance instruction increased the simultaneous use of the two knowledge types in scenario-based tasks. In these tasks, the preservice teachers needed to provide interpretations and decisions for excerpts describing various classroom situations. The relevance instruction increased the time that the preservice teachers spent on the lectures slightly; but it did not increase the perceived task difficulty or mental effort. Furthermore, the effect of the relevance instruction was not moderated by prior knowledge. We conclude that relevance instructions are a promising approach to fostering knowledge integration in teacher education.
The effect of short online pedagogical training on university teachers’ interpretations of teaching–learning situations
The aim of the study was to explore whether short online pedagogy courses can have an effect on university teachers’ interpretations of teaching–learning situations. Before and after participating in a short online pedagogical training programme, a total of 66 participants wrote their interpretations of two short video clips, which depicted a content-focused teacher and a learning-focused teacher, respectively. The training was successful in changing participants’ interpretations from a knowledge-transmission view to a learning-facilitation view of teaching. This result indicates that even short online training programmes have the potential to affect participants’ interpretations of teaching–learning situations, especially when participants are not very experienced in teaching. Therefore, pedagogical training should be offered already at the early stages of teaching careers.
Computer-enabled visual creativity: an empirically-based model with implications for learning and instruction
This study focuses on visual creativity and how it can be supported with computer technologies and thereby be used to support learning and instruction. However, studies related to computer-enabled visual creativity have not been frequently explored. As such, the current research proposes a model consisting of four major factors: (a) computer-aided visual art self-efficacy, (b) computer self-efficacy, (c) general creative self-efficacy, and (d) visual creativity. The aim is to explore the causal relationships among these factors so that they can then be used to support creativity, especially in the context of learning and instruction. To test the proposed model, this study firstly collected a total of 736 responses from an American public university to construct a scale using exploratory factor analyses and confirmatory factor analyses for three factors: (a) computer self-efficacy, (b) computer-aided visual art self-efficacy, and (c) general creative self-efficacy. Later, 164 responses were collected to analyze those hypothesized predictors of visual creativity and their relationships using structural equation modeling with Mplus. The results of the study indicate that computer self-efficacy was a significant predictor of computer-aided visual art self-efficacy, which in turn was a significant predictor of general creative self-efficacy. General creative self-efficacy, in turn, was a significant predictor of visual creativity. Finally, the study yielded a significant indirect effect of computer-aided visual art self-efficacy on visual creativity as mediated by general creative self-efficacy. Implications for learning and instruction are discussed as well as future studies to further research to develop relevant models of visual creativity in support of learning.
The effect of language modification of mathematics story problems on problem-solving in online homework
Students’ grasp of the non-mathematical language in a mathematics story problem—such as vocabulary and syntax—may have an important effect on their problem-solving, and this may be particularly true for students with weaker language skills. However, little experimental research has examined which individual language features influence students’ performance while solving problems—much research has been correlational or has combined language features together. In the present study, we manipulated six different language features of algebra story problems—number of sentences, pronouns, word concreteness, word hypernymy, consistency of sentences, and problem topic—and examined how systematically varying readability demands impacts student performance. We examined both accuracy and response time measures, using an assignment for learning linear functions in the ASSISTments online problem-solving environment. We found little evidence that individual language features have a considerable effect on mathematics word problem solving performance for a general population of students. However, sentence consistency reduced response time and problems about motion or travel had shorter response times than problems about business or work. In addition, it appears students may benefit or be harmed by language modifications depending on their familiarity with ASSISTments. Implications for the role of language in math word problems are discussed.
Collaborative learning is a widely used instructional technique, but factors determining its effectiveness still are unclear. Cognitive load theory was used to examine the effects of prior collaborative experience and density of distribution of information amongst learners on short-term retention and delayed retention tests, as well as cognitive efficiency of collaborative learning and its outcomes. Data obtained with 240 secondary school students showed that groups with experience in collaboration outperformed and were more cognitively efficient than inexperienced groups, and low information density increased performance during the learning process. Also, when tasks required processing high information density, experienced groups were more cognitively efficient than inexperienced groups. For tasks with low information density no difference was found. These results provide instructional implications for designing effective collaborative learning environments.
This study investigated the effects of creative-map instructional strategies on learning performance, learning motivation, and creativity in a junior high school geography class. A quasi-experimental approach was used to assess the treatment effects among 79 ninth graders, utilizing qualitative data including students’ feedback, and four quantitative instruments: filling-in map quizzes, geography term exams, the Learning Motivation Scale for Primary and Junior High School Students, and the Newly Revised Creative Thinking Tests. Repeated-measures ANCOVA were performed to analyze the correlation coefficients between the experimental and control groups, and indicated that the former group performed better than the latter in learning performance, motivation, and creativity after the intervention. Thus, it can be concluded that creative-map mnemonic strategies can have a positive impact on the learning and retention of place names and locations. Implications for further research and practice are also discussed.
What’s your goal? The importance of shaping the goals of engineering tasks to focus learners on the underlying science
Engaging in engineering tasks can help students learn science concepts. However, many engineering tasks lead students to focus more on the success of their construction than on learning science content, which can hurt students’ ability to learn and transfer scientific principles from them. Two empirical studies investigate how content-focused learning goals and contrasting cases affect how students learn and transfer science concepts from engineering activities. High school students were given an engineering challenge, which involved understanding and applying center of mass concepts. In Study 1, 86 students were divided into four conditions where both goals (content learning vs. outcome) and instructional scaffolds (contrasting cases vs. no cases) were manipulated during the engineering task. Students with both content-focused learning goals and contrasting cases were better able to transfer scientific principles to a new task. Meanwhile, regardless of condition, students who noticed the deep structure in the cases demonstrated greater learning. A second study tried to replicate the goal manipulation findings, while addressing some limitations of Study 1. In Study 2, 78 students received the same engineering task with contrasting cases, while half the students received a learning goal, and half received an outcome goal. Students who were given content-focused learning goals valued science learning resources more and were better able to transfer scientific principles to novel situations on a test. Across conditions, the more students valued resources, the more they learned, and students who noticed the deep structure transferred more. This research underscores the importance of content-focused learning goals for supporting transfer of scientific principles from engineering tasks, when students have access to adequate instructional scaffolds.
The goal of this study was to investigate cognitive style (the visualizer–verbalizer dimension) and cognitive ability (spatial and verbal abilities) in terms of corresponding resource use behavior. The study further examined the potential link between cognitive style and cognitive ability based on observable behavior. A total of 67 university students participated in the study by completing an online survey containing a series of questionnaires, tests, and tasks, which assessed their cognitive style, cognitive ability, and resource use behavior. Multinomial logistic regression analyses revealed that cognitive style in general predicts resource use behavior. The findings also showed that spatial ability, particularly lower spatial ability, predicts resource use behavior. This study thus contributes to the literature with theory-based, empirical evidence that cognitive ability is reflected in cognitive style. This study further provides information needed to better understand the interplay between individuals’ cognitive style and cognitive ability and how these may be addressed in the design and implementation of learning environments.
Developing a smart classroom infrastructure to support real-time student collaboration and inquiry: a 4-year design study
K-12 classroom settings are not yet incorporating emerging technologies such as ubiquitous computing, augmented reality, nor even touch surfaces, despite the significant impact that such media have made in many other aspects of our lives. Unfortunately, classroom environments have not generally evolved to support students in the new modes of collaboration, idea sharing, and inquiry that characterize many of our research-based innovations. Responding to this challenge, our research was conducted by a multi-disciplinary design team including educational researchers, a high school physics teacher, and technology designers. We embarked on a series of design-based research projects to investigate a smart classroom infrastructure that scaffolds students and teachers in new forms of collaboration and inquiry, including a substantive role for large projected displays and small touch surfaces, as well as a dependency on students’ physical location within the room. This paper describes our designs, including: (1) the role of large displays for communicating aggregate and ambient information, (2) the role of real-time communication between students, (3) the application of intelligent software agents to enact real-time pedagogical logic, (4) support for learning across contexts, and (5) orchestration of inquiry roles, materials and environments. These designs are particularly relevant for the Learning Sciences community, as they offer insight into how the orchestrated classroom can support new forms of collaborative, cooperative and collective inquiry. One important outcome of this work is a set of design principles for supporting smart classroom research.
Asking students to be active learners: the effects of totally or partially self-generating a graphic organizer on students’ learning performances
We compared performances on a learning task in which students (N = 81) viewed a pedagogical multimedia document without (control group) or with a readymade graphic organizer (readymade group) with performances on an active learning task where students self-generated a graphic organizer either totally (total self-generated group) or partially (partial self-generated group) while learning from the same multimedia document. According to the generative hypothesis, asking students to actively engage in the construction of a graphic organizer enhances their learning, owing to the generative processes (selection, organization, integration) required to perform the task. However, according to the cognitive load hypothesis, generating a graphic organizer can hinder students’ learning, owing to the extraneous processing elicited by the task. It can nonetheless be assumed that if scaffolding is provided to students in the shape of an empty graphic organizer to fill in, these negative effects can be avoided. Results confirmed the beneficial effect of providing a graphic organizer on students’ retention of the elements contained in the multimedia document (macrostructure information, hierarchical relations). Evidence in favor of the cognitive load hypothesis and against the generative hypothesis was found, as students in the total self-generated group performed more poorly on the retention and transfer tests than those in the readymade group. This negative effect on learning ceased to be observed when scaffolding was provided to students in the partial self-generated group, although they still spent more time on the document than those in the readymade group. Overall, we failed to observe any beneficial effect of generation on learning.
Examining Chinese kindergarten children’s psychological needs satisfaction in problem solving: A self-determination theory perspective
This study examined whether kindergarten children’s psychological needs satisfaction would mediate the relationships between parental scaffolding and children’s use of self-regulated learning (SRL) strategic behaviours. One hundred and thirty Chinese kindergarten children and their parents participated in the study. Parental scaffolding and children’s SRL strategic behaviours were respectively observed in parent–child interaction tasks and child-alone tasks. Drawing on self-determination theory (SDT), children’s satisfaction of three basic needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness was assessed using both behavioural observation and self-report measures. Among the three aspects of observed needs satisfaction, children’s observed satisfaction of the need for competence was particularly important, mediating all the relationships between three aspects of parental scaffolding and three aspects of children’s SRL strategic behaviours. Children’s perceived needs satisfaction, despite having some correlations with parental scaffolding and children’s SRL, did not mediate any relationships between parental scaffolding and children’s SRL strategic behaviours, which further revealed limitations associated with using self-report measures with young children. The study provides preliminary evidence of the mediating role of psychological needs satisfaction in the relationships between parental scaffolding and children’s SRL in problem-solving situations.
Previous studies have examined the effects of service-learning on student outcomes, but the dynamics and the mechanism of student development have received little attention. The present study aims to investigate how students construct their understanding of course content through service-learning, as well as the role of varied experiences. Eighty-four students were randomly assigned to two different conditions: the low-varied experiences condition (n = 36), in which students served the same child with autism throughout the programme, and the highly-varied experiences condition (n = 48), in which students served two children with autism successively. A total of 483 reflective journals written by students in a 6-week timeframe were analysed. The results indicated that students gained benefits from service-learning in terms of knowledge construction, and the overall change in students’ knowledge construction fluctuated throughout the service-learning process. In addition, students in the highly-varied experiences condition also demonstrated some differences in knowledge construction changes, indicating that varied service experiences might interfere with students’ knowledge construction at the turning point of task changing. The implications for service-learning and instruction are also discussed.