In learning from examples, students are often first provided with basic instructional explanations of new principles and concepts and second with examples thereof. In this sequence, it is important that learners self-explain by generating links between the basic instructional explanations’ content and the examples. Therefore, it is well established that learners receive self-explanation prompts. However, there is hardly any research on whether these prompts should be provided in a closed-book format—in which learners cannot access the basic instructional explanations during self-explaining and thus have to retrieve the main content of the instructional explanations that is needed to explain the examples from memory (i.e., retrieval practice)—or in an open-book format in which learners can access the instructional explanations during self-explaining. In two experiments, we varied whether learners received closed- or open-book self-explanation prompts. We also varied whether learners were prompted to actively process the main content of the basic instructional explanations before they proceeded to the self-explanation prompts. When the learners were not prompted to actively process the basic instructional explanations, closed-book prompts yielded detrimental effects on immediate and delayed (1 week) posttest performance. When the learners were prompted to actively process the basic instructional explanations beforehand, closed-book self-explanation prompts were not less beneficial than open-book prompts regarding performance on a delayed posttest. We conclude that at least when the retention interval does not exceed 1 week, closed-book self-explanation prompts do not entail an added value and can even be harmful in comparison to open-book ones.
Laptop computers allow students to type lecture notes instead of relying on the traditional longhand (i.e. paper–pencil) method. The present research compared laptop and longhand note-taking methods by investigating how the quality (i.e. complete versus incomplete idea units) and quantity (i.e. total words and total idea units) of typed and handwritten notes differed when students did or did not reply to text messages during a simulated lecture. Accounting for the presence of text messaging while participants took notes situated the present study within the reality facing many students in today’s digital age. Findings indicated that a considerable proportion of the idea units captured in participants’ notes were incomplete, regardless of note-taking method or exposure to distraction during the simulated lecture. However, only the total number of complete idea units stored in student notes meaningfully predicted lecture learning. Furthermore, the presence of digital distraction was particularly disruptive to the quality and quantity of laptop users’ lecture notes relative to longhand note takers. Finally, digital distraction emerged as a more meaningful predictor of lecture learning than note-taking method. Recommendations for improving the quality of student lecture notes are discussed and avenues for future research into note-taking completeness and the interplay between digital distraction and note-taking method are proposed.
Promoting students’ use of epistemic understanding in the evaluation of socioscientific issues through a practice-based approach
The epistemic understanding of science has always been an important part of science education, and critical engagement with socioscientific issues (SSI) is a desirable outcome of scientific literacy. However, investigations into the link between these two concepts have been inconclusive. Many students have very limited interest in epistemic understanding as they engage with SSI. This intervention study aims to address this gap between knowledge and practice, to promote students’ use of epistemic understanding, and to evaluate SSI through a practice-based approach, using the Apt-AIR framework (Barzilai and Chinn in J Learn Sci 27(3):353–389, 2018). The participants were 109 undergraduate students with various majors. A variety of measures were administered before and after a general education course titled “Making Sense of Science-related Social Issues”, including an essay writing task to assess the participants’ use of epistemic understanding when evaluating SSI, and a reflective task with follow-up interviews to identify the teaching components that could explain the students’ changes in ability, if any. Statistical analyses of pre- and post-course performance revealed a significant shift toward epistemic understanding (p < .00001). The qualitative data provided insight into the teaching components leading to this shift, and suggested interconnections between aspects of the Apt-AIR framework. The results of this study support a shift in practice for learning about science, and they highlight the need to link epistemic understanding and practice for a multi-perspective evaluation of SSI.
When students are solving problems they often turn to examples when they need assistance. Examples are helpful because they illustrate how a problem can be solved. However, when examples are very similar to the problems, students default to copying the example solutions, which hinders learning. To address this, prior work has investigated the effect of manipulating problem–example similarity, showing that learning can be increased by reducing the assistance provided by examples. We contribute to this literature by comparing two types of assistance mechanisms in the context of problem-solving activities: (1) fade-out assistance, where initially the examples are similar to the problems but over time the problem–example similarity is reduced, and (2) fade-in assistance where the opposite is the case (initially the problem–example pairs have reduced similarity but the similarity is increased as more problems are solved). The fade-in assistance condition produced significantly higher learning gains than the fade-out condition and based on eye-tracking data, the fade-in group spent longer attending to the problem, particularly early on in the problem-solving session. Our conjecture that the fade-in group was engaged in more autonomous problem solving instead of copying was confirmed by exploratory analysis on a subset of the data showing that copying was initially reduced in the fade-in condition, as compared to high in the fade-out condition. Overall, our results highlight that initially struggling in a problem-solving activity results in more learning.
Mine the process: investigating the cyclical nature of upper primary school students’ self-regulated learning
The present study investigates primary school students’ self-regulated learning (SRL) process by exploring the sequence in which SRL activities are conducted during learning. The aims of this study are twofold: investigating the presence of the theoretically hypothesized cyclical nature in students’ SRL process, as well as potential differences herein for high, average, and low achievers. Think-aloud data of 104 upper primary school students were analysed by means of process mining analysis. The results indicate that students commonly adopt a cyclical approach to learning by implementing preparatory, performance, and appraisal activities during learning. However, the results indicate clear differences in the quality of students’ SRL process. High achievers, compared to low and average achievers, show a more strategic and adaptive approach to learning during all phases of their learning process. They more strategically and effectively orient on and plan assignments, combine different cognitive strategies, and adopt self-evaluation to regulate their learning process.
Student tasks are assigned frequently in higher education to facilitate learning. For the students, the task grade is one of the motivating components for successfully performing a task. In this study, we presented students with a hypothetical task under different but equivalent grade computations (framings). Based upon principles derived from behavioral economics, the grade computations were framed as a loss or gain and explicitly or implicitly. Responding to each of these framings, 365 undergraduates reported their level of task engagement, task completion, and their anticipated regret for not completing the task (student outcomes). Findings revealed that when the task grade was framed as producing a potential loss in points, respondents reported higher student outcome levels than when framed as producing a potential gain in the grade. Furthermore, framing the grade’s consequence explicitly (without requiring the students to calculate it) had a stronger positive effect on student outcomes than when framing it implicitly.
Problem solving abilities are critical components of contemporary Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. Research in the area of problem solving has uncovered much about the representation, processes and heuristic approaches to problem solving. However, critics claim this overemphasis on the process of solving problems has led to a dearth in understanding of the earlier stages such as problem conceptualization. This paper aims to address some of these concerns by exploring the area of problem conceptualization and the underlying cognitive mechanisms that may play a supporting role in reasoning success. Participants (N = 12) were prescribed a series of convergent problem-solving tasks representative of those used for developmental purposes in STEM education. During the problem-solving episodes, cognitive data were gathered by means of an electroencephalographic headset and used to investigate students’ cognitive approaches to conceptualizing the tasks. In addition, interpretive qualitative data in the form of post-task interviews and problem solutions were collected and analyzed. Overall findings indicated a significant reliance on memory during the conceptualization of the convergent problem-solving tasks. In addition, visuospatial cognitive processes were found to support the conceptualization of convergent problem-solving tasks. Visuospatial cognitive processes facilitated students during the conceptualization of convergent problems by allowing access to differential semantic content in long-term memory.
Negotiating status hierarchies in middle school inquiry science: implications for marginal non-participation
While previous classroom studies of status hierarchies tell us who has low status and how to increase those learners’ participation in small group contexts via teacher-led interventions, we know little about how one becomes low status, or the role peers play in legitimating or delegitimating inequitable relations. This study used the sociocultural concept of marginal non-participation to describe interactional moves learners use to navigate status hierarchies in an inquiry science context where student authority may permit learners to obstruct peers’ participation. Participants were three collaborative groups of 3–4 learners in 7th grade science classrooms where a series of inquiry curriculum units were being implemented. Interviews were used alongside a microgenetic analysis of video-recorded group work observations to identify interactions that legitimated and delegitimated status hierarchies. Legitimation involved communicating acceptance of differential belonging and competence while delegitimation involved challenging differential reward by fostering widespread participation. Low- and high-status group members were active in both processes. Results suggest that diffuse status characteristics and science capital inform how status hierarchies are negotiated and that learners adapt disciplinary norms for status legitimating and delegitimating ends. Implications for learners’ participation in scientific practices and identification with science are discussed.
Can we further improve tablet-based drawing to enhance learning? An empirical test of two types of support
Digital drawing can foster learning, but only if the drawing is of sufficient quality. Hence, the focus of the present study was to investigate whether and how two types of drawing support may foster drawing quality and, in turn, learning outcomes. To this end, participants (N = 156) were randomly assigned to one of four conditions, in which they either just read text (control), were prompted to make a free-hand representational drawing (unsupported drawing), or they were additionally supported in their drawing efforts because a background (global support) or single elements for the drawing (local support) were already provided. Learning outcomes were assessed by means of recognition, transfer, and a drawing test. Results revealed that students from all three drawing conditions (unsupported, global, and local support) scored better on the transfer and drawing tests than the control condition. Both types of drawing support did neither increase drawing quality nor learning in comparison to unsupported drawing. Reasons for the latter findings are discussed.
Is drawing after learning effective for metacognitive monitoring only when supported by spatial scaffolds?
In this study, we investigated whether drawing after learning supports metacognitive monitoring especially when students are supported in their drawing efforts. Therefore, eighty-eight participants were randomly assigned to one of three experimental groups. They were asked to learn from a text comprising five paragraphs about the formation of auroras. After reading each of the five paragraphs, one group had to mentally imagine the contents (control group), a second group had to draw from scratch, and a third group had to draw with the help of spatial scaffolds. All participants provided judgments of learning (JOL) for each paragraph, and took a knowledge test afterwards. Results revealed that students who drew, both with and without scaffold, monitored their learning more accurately on an absolute level. Even though there were no differences between the two drawing conditions for monitoring accuracy, JOLs were based on the actual drawing quality only when students drew with the help of spatial scaffolds. Results thus hint towards the potential of (scaffolded) drawing to support metacognitive monitoring. Reasons for why drawing with spatial scaffolds did not improve monitoring compared to drawing from scratch are discussed.
Transdisciplinary learning environments have potential to bring together the arts, sciences, and computing within schools. We investigate the student and teacher enactment of sensemaking practices that break down disciplinary silos. We describe a pedagogical approach, Luminous Science, where students make dynamic, computationally-rich artistic representations of data from a classroom garden. Then we present an analysis of students’ sensemaking practices used during the transdisciplinary unit in three cases of art, science and computing classrooms. Qualitative analysis of a student group and teachers’ curricular materials in each of these classrooms elucidates how teachers’ enactment choices, organization, and facilitation of the unit we co-designed with them facilitated opportunities for students’ transdisciplinary thinking and learning. We show that when teachers’ enactments supported increased computational complexity and ties between artifact and phenomenon, then students participated in deeper transdisciplinary sensemaking. We discuss the implications for the design of curricular materials and professional development to support effective organization and discourse practices by teachers in orchestrating transdisciplinary sensemaking.