You are here:

The model of domain learning as a framework for understanding Internet navigation

, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, United States ; , University of Illinois, Chicago, United States ; , Northern Illinois University, United States

Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia Volume 17, Number 2, ISSN 1055-8896 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Waynesville, NC USA


When examined across studies and fields, navigation research is fragmented and inconsistent. In this article, we argue that this is the result of navigation research having generally been conducted without guidance from an overarching theoretical framework. In order to illustrate our position, we have included results from a very simple investigation conducted under the auspices of the Model of Domain Learning (MDL). Though the focus of this article is not data driven, the results presented highlight how a theoretical framework like the MDL can help clarify questions, define variables, and ease interpretations of research on navigation. Future directions for research examining navigation are offered.


Schrader, P.G., Lawless, K. & Mayall, H. (2008). The model of domain learning as a framework for understanding Internet navigation. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 17(2), 235-258. Waynesville, NC USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved February 22, 2019 from .


View References & Citations Map


  1. Alexander, P. A. (1997). Mapping the multidimensional nature of domain learning: The interplay of cognitive, motivational, and strategic forces. In M. L. Maehr & P. R. Pintrich (Eds.), Advances in motivation and achievement (Vol. 10, pp. 213-250). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.
  2. Alexander, P. A. (2003). The development of expertise: The journey from acclimation to profi ciency. Educational Researcher, 32(8), 10-14.
  3. Alexander, P. A., Jetton, T. J., & Kulikowich, J. M. (1995). The interrelationship of knowledge, interest, and recall: Assessing a model of domain learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 87(4), 559-575.
  4. Alexander, P. A., Kulikowich, J. M., & Jetton, T. L. (1994). The role of subjectmatter knowledge and interest in the processing of linear and nonlinear texts. Review of Educational Research, 64(2), 201-252.
  5. Alexander, P. A., Sperl, C. T, Buehl, M. M., Fives, H., & Chiu, S. (2004). Modeling domain learning: Profi les from the fi eld of special education. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96(3), 545-557.
  6. Anderson-Inman, L. & Horney, M. A.(1994). The electrotext project: Hypertext reading patterns of middle school students. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 3(1), 71-91.
  7. Azevedo, R. (2005). Using hypermedia as a metacognitive tool for enhancing student learning? The role of self-regulated learning. Educational Psychologist, 40(4), 199-209.
  8. Barab, S. A., Bowdish, B. E., & Lawless, K. A. (1997). Hypermedia navigation: Profi les of hypermedia users. Educational Technology Research and Development, 45(3), 23-42.
  9. Bilal, D., & Kirby, J. (2002). Differences and similarities in information seeking: Children and adults as web users. [Electronic version]. Information Processing and Management, 38(5), 649-670.
  10. Borgman, C.L. 1986. The user’s mental model of an information retrieval system: An experiment on a prototype online catalog. International Journal of Man-Machine Studies, 24(1), 47–64.
  11. Carmel, E., Crawford, S., & Chen, H. (1992). Browsing in hypertext: A cognitive study. IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, 22(5), 865-884.
  12. Chen, C., & Ford, N. (1988). Modeling user navigation behaviors in a hypermedia-based learning system: An individual difference approach. International Journal of Knowledge Organization, 25(3), 67-78.
  13. Chen, C., & Rada, R. (1996). Interacting with hypertext: A meta-analysis of experimental studies. Human-Computer Interaction, 11(2), 125-156.
  14. Chou, C., & Lin, H. (1998) The Effect of navigation map types and cognitive styles on learners’ performance in a computer-networked hypertext learning system. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 7(2/3), 151176.
  15. Conklin, J. (1987). Hypertext: An introduction and survey. Computer, 20(9), 1741.
  16. Dillon, A. (1991). Readers’ models of text structure: The case of academic materials. International Journal of Man-Machine Studies, 35(6), 913-925.
  17. Dillon, A., & Gabbard, R. (1998). Hypermedia as an educational technology: A review of the quantitative research literature on learner comprehension, control and style. Review of Educational Research, 68(3), 322-349.
  18. Eveland , W.P., & Dunwoody, S. (1998). Users and navigation patterns of a science world wide web site for the public. Public Understanding of Science, 7(4), 285-311.
  19. Fox, E., & Alexander, P. A. (2004, April). Reading, interest, and the model of domain learning: A developmental model of interest, knowledge, and strategy
  20. Gerdes, H. (1997). Learn with text and hypermedia. Lengerich, Germany: Pabst. Hammond, N.V. (1989). Hypermedia and learning: Who guides whom? In H. Maurer (Ed.), Computer assisted learning (pp. 167–180). Berlin: SpringerVerlag.
  21. Hartley, K., & Bendixen, L. (2003). The use of comprehension aids in a hypermedia environment: Investigating the impact of metacognitive awareness
  22. Herder, E., & Juvina, I. (2004, August). Discovery of individual user navigation styles. In G. D. Magoulas & S.Y. Chen (Eds.), Proceedings of Adaptive Hypermedia AH2004 Workshop on Individual Differences in Adaptive Hypermedia (pp. 40-49). Eindhoven, The Netherlands.
  23. Hidi, S., & Baird, W. (1986). Interestingness—A neglected variable in discourse processing. Cognitive Science, 10(2), 179-194.
  24. Hölsher, C., & Strube, G. (2000). Web search behavior of internet experts and newbies. Computer Networks, 33(1), 337-346.
  25. Horney, M. A., & Anderson-Inman, L. (1994). The ElectroText project: Hypertext reading patterns of middle school students. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 3(1), 71-91.
  26. Jul, S., & Furnas, G.W. (1997). Navigation in electronic worlds, a CHI’97 workshop. SGCHI Bulletin, 29(4).
  27. Kim, H., & Kamil, M. L. (2003). Electronic and multimedia documents. In A. P. Sweet & C. E. Snow (Eds.), Rethinking reading comprehension (pp. 166175). New York: The Guilford Press.
  28. Kim, K. (2001). Implications of user characteristics in information seeking on the world wide web. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 13(3), 323-340.
  29. Kozma, R. B. (1991). Learning with media. Review of Educational Research, 61(2), 179-211.
  30. Krapp, A., Hidi, S., & Renninger, K. A. (1992). Interest, learning and development. In K.A. Renninger, S. Hidi, & A. Krapp, A. (Eds.), The role of interest in learning and development (pp. 3-26). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  31. Lawless, K.A., & Brown, S.W. (1997). Multimedia learning environments: Issues of learner control and navigation. Instructional Science, 25(2) 117-131. Lawless, K. A., & Brown, S. W., Mills, R. J., & Mayall. H. J. (2003). Knowledge, interest, recall and navigation: A look at hypertext processing. Journal of Literacy Research, 25(3), 911-934.
  32. Lawless, K. A., & Kulikowich, J. M. (1993, October). Assessment of students’ navigation and comprehension of a hypertext document. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Northeastern Educational Research Association, Ellenville, NY.
  33. Lawless, K. A., & Kulikowich, J. M. (1996). Understanding hypertext navigation through cluster analysis. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 14(4), 385-399.
  34. Lawless, K. A., & Kulikowich, J. M. (1998). Domain knowledge, interest, and hypertext navigation: A study of individual differences. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 7(1), 51-70.
  35. Lawless, K. A., Mills, R., & Brown, S. W. (2002). Children’s hypermedia navigational strategies. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 34(3), 274-284.
  36. Lawless, K. A., & Schrader, P. G. (2005, August). Acquisition of information online: Knowledge, interest and strategy. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association, Washington D.C.
  37. Lawless, K. A., & Schrader, P. G. (2008). Navigating complex informational spaces: From the internet to video games. In J. Coiro, M. Knobel, C. Lankshear, & D. J. Leu (Eds.), Handbook of research on new literacies. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  38. Lawless, K. A., Schrader, P. G., & Mayall, H. J. (2007). Acquisition of information online: Knowledge, navigational strategy and learning outcomes. Journal of Literacy Research, 39(3), 289-306.
  39. MacGregor, S. K. (1999). Hypermedia navigation profi les: Cognitive characteristics and information processing strategies. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 20(2), 189-206.
  40. Marchionini, G. (1988). Hypermedia and learning: Freedom and chaos. Educational Technology, 28(11), 8–12.
  41. McDonald, S., & Stevenson, R. J. (1998). The effects of text structure and prior knowledge of the learner on navigation in hypertext. Human Facotrs, 40(1), 18-27.
  42. McKnight, C., Dillon, A., & Richardson, J. (1991) Hypertext in context. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  43. Mills, R. J., Lawless, K. A, Paper, D., & Kulikowich, J. M. (2002). Hypertext navigation—An intrinsic component of the corporate intranet. Journal of Computer Information Systems, 40(3), 44-50.
  44. Mitchell, T. J. E., Chen, S. Y., & Macredie, R. D. (2005). Hypermedia learning and prior knowledge: Domain expertise vs. System expertise. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 21(1), 53-64.
  45. Murphy, P. K., & Alexander, P. A. (2002). What counts? The predictive powers of subject-matter knowledge, strategic processing, and interest in domainspecifi c performance. The Journal of Experimental Education, 70(3), 197214.
  46. Patterson, N. (2000). Hypertext and the changing roles of readers. English Journal, 90(2), 75-90.
  47. Pazzani, M. J. (1991). Infl uence of prior knowledge on concept acquisition: Experimental and computational results. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 17(3), 416-432.
  48. Pintrich, P. R., & Schrauben, B. (1992). Students’ motivational beliefs and their cognitive engagement in classroom academic tasks. In D. Schunk & J. Meece (Eds.), Student perceptions in the classroom (pp.149-183). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  49. Reed, W. M., & Oughton, J. M. (1998). The effects of hypermedia knowledge and learning style on the construction of group concept maps. Computers in Human Behavior, 14(1), 1-22.
  50. Reeves, T.C. & Hedberg, J.G. (2003). Interactive learning systems evaluation. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.
  51. Rouet, J. F., & Levonen, J. J. (1996). Studying and learning with hypermedia: Empirical studies and their implication. In J. Rouet, J. Levonen, J. A. Dillon, & R. Spiro (Eds.), Hypermedia and cognition (pp. 9–23). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  52. Schrader, P. G., & Lawless, K. A. (2007). Dribble fi les: Methodologies to evaluate learning and performance in complex environments. Performance Improvement, 46(1), 40-48.
  53. Schraw, G. (1998). Promoting general metacognitive awareness. Instructional Science, 26(1), 113-125.
  54. Schwier, R., & Misanchuk, E. R. (1990). Analytical tools and research issues for interactive media. (Report No. IR014519). Saskatchewan, Canada. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED321751)
  55. Shapiro, A., & Niederhauser, D. (2004). Learning from hypertext: Research issues and fi ndings. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research for educational communications and technology. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  56. Shen, B., Chen, A., Scrabis, K., & Tolley, H. (2003). Gender and interest-based motivation in learning dance. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 22(4), 396-409.
  57. Tobias, S. (1994). Interest, prior knowledge, and learning. Review of Educational Research, 64(1), 37-54.
  58. Wijekumar, K. J., Meyer, B. J. F., Wagoner, D., & Ferguson, L. (2006). Technology affordances: The “real story” in research with K-12 and undergraduate learners. British Journal of Educational Technology, 37(2), 191-209.

These references have been extracted automatically and may have some errors. If you see a mistake in the references above, please contact