Structural overview and learner control in hypermedia instructional programs
Patricia Anne Burke, Arizona State University, United States
Arizona State University . Awarded
This study examined the effects of a structural overview and learner control in a computer-based program on the achievement, attitudes, time in program and Linearity of path of fifth-grade students.
Four versions of a computer-based instructional program about the Sun and planets were created in a 2 x 2 factorial design. The program consisted of ten sections, one for each planet and one for the Sun. Two structural overview conditions (structural overview, no structural overview) were crossed with two control conditions (learner control, program control). Subjects in the structural overview condition chose the order in which they would learn about the planets from among three options: ordered by distance from the Sun, ordered by size, or ordered by temperature. Subjects in the learner control condition were able to move freely among screens within a section and to choose their next section after finishing the previous one. In contrast, those in the program control condition advanced through the program in a prescribed linear manner.
A 2 x 2 ANOVA yielded no significant differences in posttest scores for either independent variable or for their interaction. The structural overview was most likely not effective because subjects spent only a small percentage of their total time on the structural overview screens and they were not required to act upon the information in those screens. Learner control over content sequencing may not have been effective because most learner-control subjects chose the same overall sequence of instruction (i.e., distance from the Sun) prescribed for program-control subjects.
Learner-control subjects chose to view an average of 40 more screens than the fixed number of 160 screens in the program-control version. However, program-control subjects spent significantly more time per screen than learner-control subjects, and the total time in program did not differ significantly between the two groups. Learner-control subjects receiving the structural overview deviated from the linear path significantly more often than subjects who did not have the structural overview, but deviation from the linear path was not associated with higher posttest scores.
Burke, P.A. Structural overview and learner control in hypermedia instructional programs. Ph.D. thesis, Arizona State University.
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