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.
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.
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.