Reflecting on the Think-Aloud Method for Evaluating e-Learning

University of Plymouth, Plymouth, England, United Kingdom
British Journal of Educational Technology (Impact Factor: 1.54). 11/2005; 37(1):45 - 54. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2005.00521.x


E-learning is increasingly being used in higher education settings, yet research examining how students use e-resources is frequently limited. Some previous studies have used the think-aloud method (an approach with origins in cognitive psychology) as an alternative to the more usual questionnaire or focus groups, but there is little discussion in the educational literature about the advantages and disadvantages of this approach. In this paper, we discuss our experience of using the think-aloud method in a recent study, and we reflect on its potential contribution as a research method. A number of concerns about the method arose during our study, including the level of guidance given to participants, observer influence, and the complexity of data analysis. We conclude, however, that the richness of the data collected outweighs these constraints, and that the think-aloud method has the potential to enhance research in this field.

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    • "Some scholars argue that thinking aloud while performing tasks may feel unnatural and thus may threaten test validity by altering what participants say and do [4]. Others contend that CTA protocol produces data mainly relating to descriptions of actions and procedures and does not yield more detailed explanatory data which usability evaluators often need to collect [5]. "

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