Effects of providing a rationale for learning a lesson on students' motivation and learning in online learning environments
Tae Seob Shin, Michigan State University, United States
Michigan State University . Awarded
This study examined whether providing a rationale for learning a particular lesson influences students' motivation and learning in online learning environments. A mixed-method design was used to investigate the effects of two types of rationales (former student vs. instructor rationales) presented in an online introductory educational psychology course. Fifty-nine participants were randomly assigned to one of the three conditions: (1) a student rationale condition where students listened to a brief testimonial of a former student about the value of the presented lesson (2) an instructor rationale condition where students listened to an audio statement by the instructors about the value of the presented lesson and (3) a control condition where students were not provided with any rationale. The treatment was given at the beginning of six two-week modules, each of which covered one specific topic in educational psychology.
Pre- and post-tests, which included self-report questionnaires measuring students' perceptions about the value of the course, interest in the course, self-determination, autonomous regulation, and their essay responses to a movie montage depicting various educational phenomena, were administered at the beginning and end of the semester. At the end of semester, students' grades and perceptions of learning were also collected.
Results suggest that providing a rationale for learning had positive effects on students' motivation and learning and its effects were affected by the source of rationale. In terms of motivation, students' sense of autonomy increased over time whether they listened to student or instructor rationales. Students who listened to instructor rationales reported an increase in their sense of relatedness to instructors, while those who listened to student rationales reported a decrease in their relatedness to instructors. In terms of learning, both the quantitative and qualitative results indicate that listening to rationales provided by former students had the most positive effect on students' final grades and their ability to apply major ideas covered in the course to real-life problems. Findings suggest that student rationales can be effective in promoting students' motivation and learning in an online learning context.
This study adds to the existing body of literature by examining whether the source of rationale matters in promoting students' learning and motivation. The current study also focuses on the learning aspects of provisions of rationales. By triangulating different learning outcome measures, a better understanding of the effects of providing a rationale has on students' learning has been achieved. In addition, the design of this study demonstrates how research grounded in theory can be conducted with strong ecological validity when implemented in regular online courses. Unlike other studies where inauthentic tasks were given, this project was done in a natural academic setting. Finally the kinds of treatments that were developed for this study can easily be implemented in teaching practices in face-to-face or online environments.
Shin, T.S. Effects of providing a rationale for learning a lesson on students' motivation and learning in online learning environments. Ph.D. thesis, Michigan State University.
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