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Paradoxical effects of information presentation formats and contextual interference on transfer of a complex cognitive skill

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Abstract

In a 2 × 2 factorial design the effects of (1) information presentation format and (2) contextual interference on training behavior, transfer performance and mental effort were studied for learning troubleshooting skills with a computer-based simulation. Participants studied information about the functioning of an alcohol distillery system (system principles) prior to practicing troubleshooting skills. Regarding the first factor, an expository (Exp) format, in which system principles, examples and a troubleshooting strategy were presented in a textual form, was compared to an inquisitory (Inq) format, in which participants had to predict the behavior of the system after they studied the system principles and in which demonstrations of the troubleshooting strategy were given. With regard to the second factor, a low contextual interference (LCI) condition in which participants practiced to diagnose types of system failures in a blocked schedule was compared to a high contextual interference (HCI) condition, in which different failure types were practiced in a random schedule. The main hypothesis is that the Inq and HCI conditions promote the development of cognitive schemata that enable learners to diagnose a malfunctioning system component by interpreting symptoms in terms of violations of system principles. Hence, they are expected to show higher transfer performance than participants in the traditional Exp and LCI conditions, who are believed to develop schemata containing associations between symptoms and malfunctioning components that are context-bound and less useful for diagnosing new failures. Contrary to the predictions, the traditional conditions (Exp and LCI) showed higher performance on a transfer test two weeks after training. Possible explanations for this result are discussed.

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... Van Merriënboer and colleagues (de Croock & van Merriënboer, 2007;de Croock et al., 1998;van Merriënboer, de Croock, & Jelsma, 1997;van Merriënboer, Schuurman, de Croock, & Paas, 2002) trained students to diagnose problems that occurred in a distiller system in which different components could fail; practice at diagnosing failures involving each component was either blocked or interleaved during practice. Across their studies, interleaved practice sometimes led to better performance on transfer tasks (which involved new combinations of system failures), but it did not always boost performance, leading the authors to suggest that perhaps more practice was needed to demonstrate the superiority of interleaved practice (de Croock & van Merriënboer, 2007). ...
... Van Merriënboer and colleagues (de Croock & van Merriënboer, 2007;de Croock et al., 1998;van Merriënboer, de Croock, & Jelsma, 1997;van Merriënboer, Schuurman, de Croock, & Paas, 2002) trained students to diagnose problems that occurred in a distiller system in which different components could fail; practice at diagnosing failures involving each component was either blocked or interleaved during practice. Across their studies, interleaved practice sometimes led to better performance on transfer tasks (which involved new combinations of system failures), but it did not always boost performance, leading the authors to suggest that perhaps more practice was needed to demonstrate the superiority of interleaved practice (de Croock & van Merriënboer, 2007). Blocked and interleaved practice have also been used to train students to make complex multidimensional judgments (Helsdingen, van Gog, & van Merriënboer, 2011a, 2011b, with results showing that decision making on criterion tests was better after interleaved than blocked practice. ...
... Although the delay between practice and criterion tests for many of the studies described above was minimal, several studies have used retention intervals as long as 1 to 2 weeks. In some of these cases, interleaved practice benefited performance (e.g., Mayfield & Chase, 2002;Rohrer & Taylor, 2007), but in others, the potential benefits of interleaving did not manifest after the longer retention interval (e.g., de Croock & van Merriënboer, 2007;Rau et al., 2010). In the latter cases, interleaved practice may not have been potent at any retention interval. ...
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Many students are being left behind by an educational system that some people believe is in crisis. Improving educational outcomes will require efforts on many fronts, but a central premise of this monograph is that one part of a solution involves helping students to better regulate their learning through the use of effective learning techniques. Fortunately, cognitive and educational psychologists have been developing and evaluating easy-to-use learning techniques that could help students achieve their learning goals. In this monograph, we discuss 10 learning techniques in detail and offer recommendations about their relative utility. We selected techniques that were expected to be relatively easy to use and hence could be adopted by many students. Also, some techniques (e.g., highlighting and rereading) were selected because students report relying heavily on them, which makes it especially important to examine how well they work. The techniques include elaborative interrogation, self-explanation, summarization, highlighting (or underlining), the keyword mnemonic, imagery use for text learning, rereading, practice testing, distributed practice, and interleaved practice. To offer recommendations about the relative utility of these techniques, we evaluated whether their benefits generalize across four categories of variables: learning conditions, student characteristics, materials, and criterion tasks. Learning conditions include aspects of the learning environment in which the technique is implemented, such as whether a student studies alone or with a group. Student characteristics include variables such as age, ability, and level of prior knowledge. Materials vary from simple concepts to mathematical problems to complicated science texts. Criterion tasks include different outcome measures that are relevant to student achievement, such as those tapping memory, problem solving, and comprehension. We attempted to provide thorough reviews for each technique, so this monograph is rather lengthy. However, we also wrote the monograph in a modular fashion, so it is easy to use. In particular, each review is divided into the following sections: General description of the technique and why it should work How general are the effects of this technique? 2a. Learning conditions 2b. Student characteristics 2c. Materials 2d. Criterion tasks Effects in representative educational contexts Issues for implementation Overall assessment The review for each technique can be read independently of the others, and particular variables of interest can be easily compared across techniques. To foreshadow our final recommendations, the techniques vary widely with respect to their generalizability and promise for improving student learning. Practice testing and distributed practice received high utility assessments because they benefit learners of different ages and abilities and have been shown to boost students’ performance across many criterion tasks and even in educational contexts. Elaborative interrogation, self-explanation, and interleaved practice received moderate utility assessments. The benefits of these techniques do generalize across some variables, yet despite their promise, they fell short of a high utility assessment because the evidence for their efficacy is limited. For instance, elaborative interrogation and self-explanation have not been adequately evaluated in educational contexts, and the benefits of interleaving have just begun to be systematically explored, so the ultimate effectiveness of these techniques is currently unknown. Nevertheless, the techniques that received moderate-utility ratings show enough promise for us to recommend their use in appropriate situations, which we describe in detail within the review of each technique. Five techniques received a low utility assessment: summarization, highlighting, the keyword mnemonic, imagery use for text learning, and rereading. These techniques were rated as low utility for numerous reasons. Summarization and imagery use for text learning have been shown to help some students on some criterion tasks, yet the conditions under which these techniques produce benefits are limited, and much research is still needed to fully explore their overall effectiveness. The keyword mnemonic is difficult to implement in some contexts, and it appears to benefit students for a limited number of materials and for short retention intervals. Most students report rereading and highlighting, yet these techniques do not consistently boost students’ performance, so other techniques should be used in their place (e.g., practice testing instead of rereading). Our hope is that this monograph will foster improvements in student learning, not only by showcasing which learning techniques are likely to have the most generalizable effects but also by encouraging researchers to continue investigating the most promising techniques. Accordingly, in our closing remarks, we discuss some issues for how these techniques could be implemented by teachers and students, and we highlight directions for future research.
... Enfin, l'utilisation d'un certain mode de présentation influence la répartition des ressources cognitives entre ces deux processus. Bien que les travaux liés à la théorie de la charge cognitive nous renseignent sur la résolution de problème unique, leurs hypothèses peuvent être étendues à des tâches de résolution comprenant plusieurs problèmes (de Croock & van Merriënboer, 2007;de Croock, van Merriënboer & Pass, 1998). Une situation d'enseignement se composant rarement de la résolution d'un seul problème, l'apprentissage de compétences complexes est le plus souvent réparti sur plusieurs problèmes. ...
... Du point de vue de la théorie de la charge cognitive (de Croock & van Merriënboer, 2007 ;de Croock & al., 1998), cet effet pourrait s'expliquer par le fait que la construction de schémas de résolution lors d'une présentation aléatoire exigerait davantage de ressources cognitives qu'une présentation par bloc, ce qui diminuerait les performances lors de la phase de pratique. Cependant, ces schémas seraient plus riches (basés davantage sur les différences et les similarités entre les problèmes) et permettraient de meilleures performances face à de nouveaux problèmes. ...
... Ils observent que face à une présentation aléatoire des problèmes (interférence importante) les participants ont besoin de plus de temps et font plus d'erreurs qu'en situation de faible interférence (présentation des problèmes de même structure par blocs). Ils répliquent ces résultats en 2007 (de Croock & van Merriënboer, 2007) en montrant notamment que les participants en situation d'inférence importante réussissent moins bien que les participants en situation de faible inférence (cf. 3.1.2.). ...
... -The second approach "Instructional design" takes into account the cognitive load in tasks' development in solving problems (Pass and van Merriënboer, 1993;Salden, Paas and van Merriënboer, 2006;Pass, Renkl and Sweller, 2003;de Croock and van Merriënboer, 2007). This approach emphasizes also the importance of how tasks are organized; it asks how to organize the learning of a skill/knowledge so that the learner may develop this skill/knowledge with success, retention, understanding, and with little error and good elaboration of schemas. ...
... When it is required to mobilize and articulate both declarative and procedural knowledge, one state that any task has been carried out ( Figure 3); this reveals the difficulties that encountered the majority of pupils to complete tasks involving knowledge articulation. According to the "Instructional design" approach (Pass and van Merriënboer, 1993;Salden, Paas and van Merriënboer, 2006;Pass, Renkl and Sweller, 2003;de Croock and van Merriënboer, 2007), the failure in using and articulating declarative and procedural knowledge may explained by lack of abstract mental representations due to the pupils' inability in elaboration of schemas. Generally, these results are not predicted and so merit to be taken in consideration in the teaching/learning processes in the future. ...
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This paper investigate the difficulties that Moroccan pupils (18-19) of the second Baccalaureat year encountered in solving chemical equilibrium problems relating to ethanoate ions’ reactivity with water and methanoic acid, and to Copper-Aluminum cell. The pupils were asked to provide answers on questions derived from two problems. The questions were classified into different tasks according to whether their answer required declarative and (or) procedural knowledge. The written productions evaluated and counted as percentage of successful, failed and unprocessed tasks revealed that pupils completed with sucess tasks on reactivity of ethanoate ions with water more easily than those of two other studied cases. The pupils encountered difficulties to appropriate procedural knowledge on equilibriums involved in ethanoate ions reactivity with methanoic acid and in Copper-Aluminum cell. The impact of tasks’ organization on knowledge development seems to be not verified as it was shown in the hierarchy prevalence of problems from simple to complex ones.
... -The second approach ''Instructional design'' takes into account the cognitive load in the tasks' development in solving problems (Paas and van Merriënboer, 1993;Paas et al., 2003;Salden et al. 2006;de Croock and van Merriënboer, 2007). This approach emphasizes also the importance of how tasks are organized; it asks how to organize the learning of a skill/ knowledge so that the learner may develop this skill/knowledge with success, retention, understanding, and with little error and good elaboration of schemas. ...
... When it is required to mobilize and articulate both declarative and procedural knowledge, one can state that any task has been carried out (Fig. 3); this reveals the difficulties that were encountered by the majority of pupils to completing tasks involving knowledge articulation. According to the ''Instructional design'' approach (Paas and van Merriënboer, 1993;Paas et al., 2003;Salden et al. 2006;de Croock and van Merriënboer, 2007), the failure in using and articulating declarative and procedural knowledge may be explained by lack of abstract mental representations due to the pupils' inability in elaboration of schemas. Generally, these results are not predicted and so merit to be taken into consideration in the teaching/learning processes in the future. ...
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This article aims to study the difficulties of the Moroccan high school pupils in teaching of the acid-base topic. Based on others similar context, particularly the Tunisian one, we have firstly carried out a classification of the knowledge objects relating to acid-base titrations in the empirical register and in the register of models. The analysis of the written productions of the pupils in situation of solving problem showed that the Moroccan pupils in classes of second Baccalaureate encountered difficulties to appropriate the knowledge objects relating to weak acide-strong base titrations and to adapt these knowledge as well as with the empirical register and with the register of models.
... This distinction overlaps the one between pro-76 cedural and declarative knowledge. The second type of assistance permits the learner to acquire not only procedural knowledge, but also the 77 conceptual knowledge necessary for transfer to a new situation (De Crook & Van Merrienboer, 2007). Empirical results have confirmed the 78 importance of the degree of abstraction of help messages in learning to use new software: the performance in transfer tasks was better with 79 model-oriented (vs. ...
Article
Throughout their lives, people are faced with various learning situations, for example when they learn how to use new software, services or information systems. However, research in the field of Interactive Learning Environments shows that learners needing assistance do not systematically seek or use help, even when it is available. The aim of the present study is to explore the role of some factors from research in Interactive Learning Environments in another situation: using a new technology not as a means of acquiring knowledge but to realize a specific task. Firstly, we present the three factors included in this study (1) the role of the content of assistance, namely operative vs. function-oriented help; (2) the role of the user’s prior knowledge; (3) the role of the trigger of assistance, i.e. help provided after the user’s request vs. help provided by the system. In this latter case, it is necessary to detect the user’s difficulties. On the basis of research on problem-solving, we list behavioral criteria expressing the user’s difficulties. Then, we present two experiments that use “real” technologies developed by a large company and tested by “real” users. The results showed that (1) even when participants had reached an impasse, most of them never sought assistance, (2) operative assistance that was automatically provided by the system was effective for novice users, and (3) function-oriented help that was automatically provided by the system was effective for expert users. Assistance can support deadlock awareness and can also focus on deadlock solving by guiding task. Assistance must be adapted to prior knowledge, progress and goals of learners to improve learning.
... The cognitive advantages of visual imagery over written or verbal information have been known for some time. Past research has explicitly shown visual imagery is more effective that verbal content at communicating ideas and influencing belief formation (Meyer 2000;Tufte 2001;Ware 2000, de Croock andVan Merrienboer 2007;Shen and Hue 2007). Knowledge acquisition is also easier for individuals when viewing visual imagery as opposed to written content (Bettman and Kakkar 1977;Painton and Gentry 1985). ...
Article
Visual imagery of costal morphological change processes must be accompanied by supporting information to make change processes understandable. We explored the influence of supporting information (graphs and numeric values) on perceptions of coastal morphological change processes through an experiment delivered to coastal recreationists. Supporting information was presented alongside four imagery types: human perspective digital elevation models (DEMs), human perspective digital photographs, aerial views of DEMs and aerial photography. We found neither the use of graphs nor numeric values influenced respondents' perceptions of coastal environmental change. However, perceptions varied significantly across imagery type; human perspective digital photographs and aerial photographs yielded higher ratings compared to human perspective DEMs and aerial views of DEMs. The results suggest supporting information representing increasingly severe rates of beach erosion and shoreline movement does not translate into perceptions of increasingly dramatic geophysical processes; this is consistent with previous empirical findings. The results also suggest individuals perceive coastal change processes as more severe when those processes are presented through photographs, particularly aerial photographs. Scientists, educators and coastal land use managers struggling to communicate the magnitude and severity associated with coastal geophysical processes are advised to use comparative aerial photography when possible.
... Paas (1992), Paas and van Merriënboer (1994), and De Croock, van Merriënboer, and Paas (1998) reported Cronbach's coefficient alpha of 0.90, 0.82, and 0.98, respectively. De Croock and van Merriënboer (2007) reported a coefficient of 0.88. Using this instrument in the present experiment, the participants were asked to report the amount of mental effort they invested in each task. ...
Article
Students of chemical engineering (n=26) participated in an experiment using a computer-based simulation of a chemical plant. The progression of participants’ mental models was examined throughout a computer-based instructional experience as they acquired the complex cognitive skills of troubleshooting. Participants’ mental models of the complex learning task were matched against an expert mental model at five observation points through the instruction. Progressions of learners’ mental models were examined before and after three phases of the instructional process: supportive information presentation, problem solving practice, and performance test. The results indicated a significant change in participants’ mental models after receiving the supportive information and little change after practice or performance. This paper presents the results of this investigation and discusses the findings and their implications for computer-based instruction and training.
... The majority of research on the role of contextual interference focuses on motor skill development with some studies in memory and learning, and suggests that a high contextual interference (HCI) condition may slow the initial rate of learning but contribute to broader representations of knowledge and enhance transfer (Bjork & Schmidt, 1992; De Croock & van Merrienboer, 2007, Magill & Hall, 1990 Van Merrienboer, Kester & Paas 2006). However, one cognitive learning study (De Croock & van Merrienboer, 2005), which specifically examined contextual interference in the practice schedule contradicted the notion that HCI contributes to better transfer. ...
... There is considerable evidence (reviewed by Wulf & Shea, 2002) that the contextual interference effect is not obtained for complex cognitive skills such as computer-based problem solving in a distillery (De Croock & Van Merrienboer, 2007) or tasks in a flight simulator (Goettl, 1995). Nevertheless, binding being a much less complex process might well show the contextual interference effect. ...
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The effects of blocked versus mixed presentation were tested on visual feature binding, assuming that blocked presentation enhances focused attention, whilst mixed presentation recruits extra attentional resources for intratrial as well as intertrial processing. The contextual interference effect suggests that although performance due to mixed presentation is either similar or worse than blocked presentation when tested immediately, it is better when tested after an interval. We explored whether this robust empirical effect, common in psychomotor performance, would be evident in visual feature binding. Stimuli were conjunctions of shape, colour, and location. Study-test intervals from 0 to 2,500 ms were used with a swap detection task. In Experiments 1A and 1B, participants ignored locations to detect shape-colour bindings. In Experiments 2A and 2B, they ignored shapes to detect colour-location binding. In Experiments 3A and 3B, they ignored colours to detect shape-location bindings. Whilst Experiments 1A, 2A, and 3A used blocked presentation, Experiments 1B, 2B, and 3B used mixed presentation of study-test intervals. The results of these experiments and a replication experiment using a within-subjects design showed that the contextual interference effect appeared when spatial attention was engaged, but not when attention was object based.
... These results are promising because statistics is known as a subject where students often fail to transfer their knowledge to situations that are different from the training ones (Lane & Tang, 2000). Although the study research design did not include a control group that did not receive simulation-based learning, which limits the ability to claim that the two interventions were the primary cause for this learning gain, previous research (de Croock & van Merrienboer, 2007;Parchman, Ellis, Christinaz, & Vogel, 2000;Swaak, de Jong, & van Joolingen, 2004) provides empirical evidence for advantages of simulation-based learning over non-simulation methods. Particularly, simulations used for teaching math had the most positive results (Randel, Morris, Wetzel, & Whitehill, 1992). ...
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The purpose of this study was to (1) examine the effects of a storyline on learners' factual, conceptual and application knowledge with the use of a simulation for teaching introductory statistical skills and to (2) explore students' subjective enjoyment of various learning activities often used in statistics education. In order to conduct the study, two versions of a simulation were developed that differed in the presence or absence of a storyline attribute. Sixty-four graduate students were randomly assigned to one of the two intervention conditions. Both intervention groups demonstrated significantly higher learning gains after interacting with the simulation. Particularly, both simulation-based interventions had a positive significant effect on the acquisition of application knowledge and skills. However, no significant differences between the intervention groups on any learning outcome explored in the study were found. Results also showed that students rated the simulation used in the study as a more enjoyable learning activity in comparison to reading a textbook, lecture or teamwork. Students from the simulation without a storyline intervention reported higher enjoyment than the other intervention group. Implications of the findings for understanding the instructional benefits and shortcomings of embedding a storyline in digital learning content are discussed.
... Participants were requested to report level of mental effort they invested in composing a discussion message right after they posted that message. The internal consistency of this measure has been reported by several studies (de Croock & van Merrienboer, 2007;de Croock, van Merrienboer, & Paas, 1998;Paas & van Merrienboer, 1994b). Based on participants' ratings on multiple tasks, the Cronbach's coefficient alpha estimated ranged from .82 to .98 in these studies. ...
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This article focuses on heavy cognitive load as the reason for the lack of quality associated with conventional online discussion. Using the principles of cognitive load theory, four online discussion strategies were designed specifically aiming at reducing the discussants’ cognitive load and thus enhancing the quality of their online discussion. The results indicate that, compared to a conventional discussion strategy, the discussion quality was significantly enhanced for participants using example-posting strategy and limited-number-of-posting strategy. Cognitive load was significantly reduced for participants using filtered-posting and combination strategies. Instructional efficiency of all proposed strategies was found to be significantly better than conventional discussion strategy. The results are discussed and implications of the findings on instructional design application and future research are also presented.
... However, an absence of a control condition, i.e., a group of learners who were not engaged in simulation-based learning, prevents us from generalizing this finding and concluding that the two interventions were the primary cause for this learning gain. However, based on previous research (de Croock & van Merrienboer, 2007), it is plausible that the two instructional methods had a positive effect on the learning gain. ...
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The study explored instructional benefits of a storyline gaming characteristic (GC) on learning effectiveness, efficiency, and engagement with the use of an online instructional simulation for graduate students in an introductory statistics course. A storyline is a game-design element that connects scenes with the educational content. In order to examine the interactions between the storyline GC and human performance, a storyline was embedded in a simulation. The goal of the simulation was to engage students in problem-solving and data analysis in the context of basic statistics by using real-world examples. The authors developed two different versions of the simulation: (1) Simulation+No GC, and (2) Simulation+Storyline GC. Both versions shared the same instructional content but differed in the presence or absence of a storyline GC. The results indicated that adding a storyline to a simulation did not result in significant improvements in learning effectiveness, efficiency, or engagement. However, both instructional methods (simulation and simulation with a storyline) showed significant learning gains from pre- to post-test. The findings of this study offer future directions for embedding a storyline GC into learning content.
... Hence, it is important for beneficial effects of interleaved practice to occur that distinctiveness between categories is high, but distinctiveness within task categories is low (Zulkiply & Burt, 2013). Research on interleaved practice has frequently demonstrated positive learning effects (for a recent meta-analysis, see Brunmair & Richter, 2019), for example in laboratory studies with troubleshooting tasks (De Croock et al., 1998;De Croock & van Merriënboer, 2007;Van Merriënboer et al., 1997, 2002; drawing tasks (Albaret & Thon, 1998); foreign language learning (Abel & Roediger, 2017;Carpenter & Mueller, 2013;Schneider et al., 2002); category induction tasks (Kornell & Bjork, 2008;Sana et al., 2018;Wahlheim et al., 2011); and learning of logical rules (Schneider et al., 1995). Furthermore, several classroom experiments found positive effects of interleaved practice in mathematics learning (e.g. ...
Article
It is yet unclear which teaching methods are most effective for improving critical thinking (CT) skills and especially for the ability to avoid biased reasoning. Two experiments (laboratory: N = 85; classroom: N = 117), investigated the effect of practice schedule (interleaved/blocked) on students’ learning and transfer of unbiased reasoning, and whether it interacts with practice-task format (worked-examples/problems). After receiving CT-instructions, participants practiced in: (1) a blocked schedule with worked examples, (2) an interleaved schedule with worked examples, (3) a blocked schedule with problems, or (4) an interleaved schedule with problems. In both experiments, learning outcomes improved after instruction/practice. Surprisingly, there were no indications that interleaved practice led to better learning/transfer than blocked practice, irrespective of task format. The practice-task format did matter for novices’ learning: worked examples were more effective than low-assistance practice problems, which demonstrates –for the first time – that the worked-example effect also applies to novices’ learning to avoid biased reasoning.
... Several studies showed that a high variability across learning tasks yields superior transfer test performance (e.g., Corbalan, Kester, & van Merri ë nboer , 2009 ;Paas & van Merri ë nboer, 1994 ;Quilici & Mayer , 1996 ). Predominantly positive results are also found for contextual interference, which is a special type of variability referring to the way in which differences between tasks are divided across acquisition tasks (e.g., de Croock & van Merri ë nboer, 2007 ;de Croock, van Merri ë nboer, & Paas , 1998 ;Helsdingen, van Gog, & van Merri ë nboer , 2011a, 2011bOlina, Reiser, Huang, Lim, & Park , 2006 ; van Merri ë nboer, Schuurman, de Croock, & Paas, 2002 ). Low contextual interference is produced by a blocked practice schedule, in which the learner practices the skills necessary for performing one type of task (e.g., diagnosing one particular type of error) practiced before continuing to another type of task (e.g., AAA, BBB, CCC, …). ...
Article
The four-component instructional design (4C/ID) model claims that four components are necessary to realize complex learning: (1) learning tasks, (2) supportive information, (3) procedural information, and (4) parttask practice. This chapter discusses the use of the model to design multimedia learning environments in which instruction is controlled by the system, the learner, or both; 22 multimedia principles are related to each of the four components and instructional control. Students may work on learning tasks in computer-simulated task environments such as virtual reality environments, serious games, and high-fidelity simulators, where relevant multimedia principles primarily facilitate a process of inductive learning; they may study, share, and discuss supportive information in hypermedia, microworlds, and social media, where principles facilitate a process of elaboration and mindful abstraction; they may consult procedural information using mobile apps, augmented reality environments, and online help systems, where principles facilitate a process of knowledge compilation; and, finally, they may be involved in part-task practice with drill-and-practice computer-based/app-based training programs and part-task trainers, where principles facilitate a process of psychological strengthening. Instructional control can be realized by adaptive multimedia systems, but electronic development portfolios can be helpful when learners are given partial or full control. Research implications and limitations of the presented framework are discussed.
... Without a control group, i.e., a group that did not participate in simulation-based learning, there was no empirical evidence to support the claim that the two revised interventions were the primary cause of the learning gains. Nevertheless, previous research (e.g., de Croock & van Merrienboer, 2007;Swaak, de Jong, & van Joolingen, 2004) showed positive gains of simulation-based STEM learning, which might help ascertain that the current study interventions could affect student learning positively as well. We believe the change in the participating audience and the extended length of the simulation contributed to the improved learning gains obtained. ...
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Considerable resources have been invested in examining the game design principles that best foster learning. One way to understand what constitutes a well-designed instructional game is to examine the relationship between gaming characteristics and actual learning. This report discusses the lessons learned from the design and development process of instructional simulations that are enhanced by competition and storyline gaming characteristics and developed as instructional interventions for a study on the effects of gaming characteristics on learning effectiveness and engagement. The goal of the instructional simulations was to engage college students in learning the statistics concepts of standard deviation and the empirical rule. A pilot study followed by a small-scale experimental study were conducted to improve the value and effectiveness of these designed simulations. Based on these findings, specific practical implications are offered for designing actual learning environments that are enhanced by competition and storyline gaming elements.
... However, we included studies that referred to contextual interference in their theoretical argumentation if these studies matched our definition of interleaved learning. In other words, we included studies on contextual interference if these studies compared an interleaved and a blocked inductive learning condition and studied the effects of these conditions on the performance in a subsequent category discrimination or classification task (e.g., de Croock & van Merriënboer, 2007;Rau, Aleven, & Rummel, 2013;Rau, Rummel, Aleven, Pacilio, & Tunc-Pekkan, 2012). ...
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An interleaved presentation of items (as opposed to a blocked presentation) has been proposed to foster inductive learning (interleaving effect). A meta-analysis of the interleaving effect (based on 59 studies with 238 effect sizes nested in 158 samples) was conducted to quantify the magnitude of the interleaving effect, to test its generalizability across different settings and learning materials, and to examine moderators that could augment the theoretical models of interleaved learning. A multilevel meta-analysis revealed a moderate overall interleaving effect (Hedges’ g = 0.42). Interleaved practice was best for studies using paintings (g = 0.67) and other visual materials. Results for studies using mathematical tasks revealed a small interleaving effect (g = 0.34), whereas results for expository texts and tastes were ambiguous with nonsignificant overall effects. An advantage of blocking compared to interleaving was found for studies based on words (g = -0.39). A multiple meta-regression analysis revealed stronger interleaving effects for learning material more similar between categories, for learning material less similar within categories, and for more complex learning material. These results are consistent with the theoretical account of interleaved learning, most notably with the sequential theory of attention (attentional bias framework). We conclude that interleaving can effectively foster inductive learning but that the setting and the type of learning material must be considered. The interleaved learning, however, should be used with caution in certain conditions, especially for expository texts and words.
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This study investigated the effectiveness of two practice schedules in video-based software training. An experiment compared an arrangement with instructions followed by a blocked or an interleaved practice schedule for effects on flow, self-efficacy development and task performances. According to the contextual interference effect, there should be a trade-off between the effectiveness of these schedules during and after training. Participants were elementary school students who were novices in the Word training that was offered. The findings indicated that flow was positive across conditions, and that there was a trend favoring the blocked schedule. Self-efficacy after training was equally higher in both conditions. Performances of trained tasks during and after training were satisfactory. There was a trend favoring the blocked schedule on the immediate and transfer test. However, the present study found no empirical evidence for any significant differences between the conditions. Several possible accounts for this finding are presented. The practical take-away is that the findings support the predominant practice arrangement for video-based software training (i.e., a blocked schedule) in initial skills acquisition.
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In an exploration of the effects of task‐repetition practice on fluency development, English‐as‐a‐foreign language learners performed three oral narrative tasks involving six‐frame cartoons for 3 consecutive days. They engaged in task‐repetition practice under either a blocked (Day 1: A‐A‐A; Day 2: B‐B‐B; Day 3: C‐C‐C) or an interleaved (Day 1: A‐B‐C; Day 2: A‐B‐C; Day 3: A‐B‐C) task repetition schedule. The results yielded by a posttest involving new six‐frame cartoons indicated that blocked practice resulted in greater fluency development (faster articulation rate and shorter mid‐clause pause duration) than did interleaved practice. Moreover, the learners in the blocked‐practice group tended to pause more frequently at clause boundaries. Blocked practice also led to significantly longer mean length of run and higher phonation/time ratio during training, although this advantage failed to transfer to meaningful pretest–posttest changes. These dynamic fluency developmental patterns are discussed to elucidate the underlying proceduralization in L2 speech processes.
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Background and Purpose: Many factors affect the learning of motor skills، one of which is the arrangement pattern of exercises، which can affect the stability and development of a generalized practice schedules and parameterizing the movements. The current research was performed to monitor the effect of different practice schedules on learning and transfer of generalized motor program in a serial task. Methods and Materials: This experimental study involved the population of male right-handed university students at Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman، Iran. Therefore، 80 participants (age range of 19-23 years old) were randomly allocated into four groups: blocked، random، blocked-random and random-blocked. The test included performance of serial tasks with different generalized motor schedules (spatial dimension variance) and variable timing parameter. The participants took part after pre-test phase and accomplishing 108 trial exercises according to practice group in retention and transfer tests. When different tests were performed، amount of relative timing errors (measure of consistency and proficiency of generalized motor program) were calculated. For data analysis، descriptive statistics (mean and standard deviation) and inferential statistics (repeated measures ANOVA and Tukey test) were used in SPSS 16 (p0.05). Conclusion: The results showed that the blocked exercises caused a better performance at the acquisition level. However، different patterns caused a similar effect on the performance of participants at the levels of learning and transfer in a serial task. Keywords Contextual Interference; Generalized Motor Program (GMP); Relative Timing
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This article provides an overview description of the four-component instructional design system (4C/ID-model) developed originally by van Merriënboer and others in the early 1990s (van Merriënboer, Jelsma, & Paas, 1992) for the design of training programs for complex skills. It discusses the structure of training blueprints for complex learning and associated instructional methods. The basic claim is that four interrelated components are essential in blueprints for complex learning: (a) learning tasks, (b) supportive information, (c) just-in-time (JIT) information, and (d) part-task practice. Instructional methods for each component are coupled to the basic learning processes involved in complex learning and a fully worked-out example of a training blueprint for “searching for literature” is provided. Readers who benefit from a structured advance organizer should consider reading the appendix at the end of this article before reading the entire article.
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The contextual interference effect is a learning phenomenon where interference during practice is beneficial to skill learning. That is, higher levels of contextual interference lead to poorer practice performance than lower levels while yielding superior retention and transfer performance. This rather counterintuitive effect, first demonstrated by Battig (1966) for verbal materials and later shown to be relevant to motor skill learning by Shea and Morgan (1979), has led to a considerable amount of research. In this article, we review the motor skills literature related to this effect by focusing on two research directions. First, evidence related to the generalizability of the effect is considered to identify possible parameters of the contextual interference effect. It is apparent that this effect is not applicable for learning all types of tasks and for all types of learners. Thus, task and individual characteristics are given particular consideration. Second, the explanations offered to establish what learning processes account for this effect are considered. Here, the different views proposed to explain the contextual interference are discussed along with research addressing this issue. Also, the relationship between the contextual interference effect and the practice variability hypothesis of Schmidt's schema theory is explored. Finally, future research directions are suggested with the goal of providing guidelines for research to enhance our present knowledge of the contextual interference effect and its relationship to motor skill learning.
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Scientific discovery learning is a highly self-directed and constructivistic form of learning. A computer simulation is a type of computer-based environment that is very suited for discovery learning, the main task of the learner being to infer, through experimentation, characteristics of the model underlying the simulation. In this article we give a review of the observed effectiveness and efficiency of discovery learning in simulation environments together with problems that learners may encounter in discovery learning, and we discuss how simulations may be combined with instructional support in order to overcome these problems.
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We review research related to the learning of complex motor skills with respect to principles developed on the basis of simple skill learning. Although some factors seem to have opposite effects on the learning of simple and of complex skills, other factors appear to be relevant mainly for the learning of more complex skills. We interpret these apparently contradictory findings as suggesting that situations with low processing demands benefit from practice conditions that increase the load and challenge the performer, whereas practice conditions that result in extremely high load should benefit from conditions that reduce the load to more manageable levels. The findings reviewed here call into question the generalizability of results from studies using simple laboratory tasks to the learning of complex motor skills. They also demonstrate the need to use more complex skills in motor-learning research in order to gain further insights into the learning process.
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Discussed elsewhere in this feature are the various electronic timing and control systems available for IS machines, an important aspect of process control, leading to automation. Here, we ask the question: 'Why introduce process control and automation'? Over the past 20 years, there has been much discussion on this subject, resulting in many negative ideas being promoted, especially in countries of industries with long traditions of the manufacturing process. Installation of process control and automation has been slow in these countries but in Japan and the USA, this has not been the case and so they have moved ahead, fully exploiting all the benefits to be obtained.
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In the present study, interactions of contextual interference and the cognitive style reflection-impulsivity were examined for training and retention performance. 64 subjects were randomly assigned to either a random or blocked practice schedule in learning a cursor-movement task. Reflectivity indices were determined by means of our computerized version of the Matching Familiar Figures Test. Analysis showed that the generally positive effect of practicing under a random practice schedule decreased for more reflective subjects. Further, training under a random practice schedule forced impulsive subjects to behave more like reflective ones, which improved their performance at retention. It was concluded that reflection-impulsivity is an important factor to be incorporated into the design of effective training programs.
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In an exploratory study, the effects of contextual interference on retention and transfer performance were studied for learning a complex cognitive skill, namely, troubleshooting a computer-based simulation of a chemical process plant. Support was found for the "transfer paradox": high contextual interference had negative effects on performance during practice and none on number of retention problems solved after the training but positive effects on number of new problems solved (transfer). Implications for the design of training are discussed.
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Cognitive load theory provides guidelines for improving the training of complex cognitive skills and their transfer to new situations. One guideline states that extraneous cognitive load that is irrelevant to the construction of cognitive schemata should be minimised. Experiment 1 (N=26) compares completion problems, conventional problems, and a learner-controlled con-dition in which learners may choose between problem formats. Completion problems decrease cognitive load during training and have a zero or positive effect on transfer performance. A second guideline states that germane cognitive load that is directly relevant to schema construc-tion should be optimised. In Experiment 2 (N=69) practice schedules of either high or low contextual interference are compared (HCI and LCI). HCI increases cognitive load during training and shows a trend towards higher transfer performance. Experiment 3 (N=87) com-bines both guidelines in a factorial experiment with the factors problem format (completion vs. conventional) and contextual interference (HCI vs. LCI). It is hypothesised that redirecting attention from extraneous to germane processes will improve training efficiency, i.e. positively affect the balance between cognitive load during training and transfer test performance. In support of this hypothesis, it is found that the completion-HCI group shows highest training efficiency. But transfer test performance for this group is disappointing. The results are dis-cussed in relation to the operationalisation of HCI in combination with completion problems. (J.J.G. van Merriënboer). 1 Marcel de Croock is now at the Open University of the Netherlands.
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In the present study the effects of contextual interference on the retention and transfer performance of reflectives and impulsives on a maze task were studied. Forty-seven subjects were randomly assigned to either a high contextual interference group or to a low contextual interference group. Within the two groups subjects were further classified according to their preferred modes of responding. Retention and transfer were measured immediately following practice and after a 4-week delay. The dependent variables were tracing time and errors. Reflectives made fewer errors and moved more quickly after practising under conditions of high contextual interference. Impulsives tended to have fewer errors after practising under conditions of high contextual interference but moved more slowly. Based on these results it was suggested that trainers consider individual differences in reflectivity-impulsivity before designing particular practice schedules.
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The present experiment extends the findings of Shea and Morgan (1979) and Lee and Magill (1983) by determining the impact of manipulating contextual interference in 50, 200, and 400 acquisition trials on retention of a rapid force production task assessed under both random and blocked contexts. Acquisition performance was interior for the random acquisition groups as compared to the blocked groups with little differences between the 50, 200, and 400 acquisition groups' performance at comparable stages of practice. However, the retention data indicated that subjects who completed 400 random acquisition trials performed better on both random and blocked retention than subjects who learned under blocked contexts. Increasing the number of blocked acquisition trials did not improve retention under blocked contexts and had a negative effect on retention assessed under random contexts. Apparently, the benefits of blocked practice (low contextual interference) occur early in practice with response production becoming increasingly more rigid and inflexible. On the other hand, the benefits of random practice (high contextual interference) surface after initial practice.
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AI research in qualitative modeling makes possible new approaches to teaching people about science and technology. We are exploring the implications of this work for the design of intelligent learning environments. The domain of application is electrical circuits, but the approach can be generalized to other subjects. Our prototype instructional system is based upon a progression of qualitative models of electrical circuit behavior. These models enable the system to simulate circuit behavior and to generate causal explanations. They also serve as target mental models for the learner. The model progression is used to create problem sets that motivate successive refinements to the students' mental models. Acquisition of these models allows students, at all stages of learning, to solve interesting problems, such as circuit design and troubleshooting problems. The system enables students to employ different learning strategies and to manage their own learning. For instance, they can create and experiment with circuits, can attempt problems posed by the system, and can ask for feedback and coaching from the models. In pilot trials, the learning environment successfully taught novices to troubleshoot and to mentally simulate circuit behavior.
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Diagnostic tasks require determining the differences between a model of an artifact and the artifact itself. The differences between the manifested behavior of the artifact and the predicted behavior of the model guide the search for the differences between the artifact and its model. The diagnostic procedure presented in this paper is model-based, inferring the behavior of the composite device from knowledge of the structure and function of the individual components comprising the device. The system (GDE—general diagnostic engine) has been implemented and tested on many examples in the domain of troubleshooting digital circuits.This research makes several novel contributions: First, the system diagnoses failures due to multiple faults. Second, failure candidates are represented and manipulated in terms of minimal sets of violated assumptions, resulting in an efficient diagnostic procedure. Third, the diagnostic procedure is incremental, exploiting the iterative nature of diagnosis. Fourth, a clear separation is drawn between diagnosis and behavior prediction, resulting in a domain (and inference procedure) independent diagnostic procedure. Fifth, GDE combines model-based prediction with sequential diagnosis to propose measurements to localize the faults. The normally required conditional probabilities are computed from the structure of the device and models of its components. This capability results from a novel way of incorporating probabilities and information theory into the context mechanism provided by assumption-based truth maintenance.
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The effects of contextual interference on practice behavior, transfer performance, and cognitive load for learning troubleshooting skills were studied. A low contextual interference (LCI) condition, in which subjects practiced to diagnose system failures in a blocked schedule, was compared with a high contextual interference (HCI) condition, in which failures were practiced in a random schedule. The following hypotheses are stated. Hypothesis 1: during practice, subjects in the HCI group will require more time to reach a high performance level (i.e., more accurate and/or faster diagnoses of system failures) on practice problems and will have to invest more mental effort relative to subjects in the LCI group. Hypothesis 2: subjects in the HCI group will show higher performance and lower invested mental effort on far transfer test problems, relative to subjects in the LCI group, but there will be no difference between the groups on near transfer test problems. The results showed that subjects in the HCI group were more accurate in diagnosing far transfer problems, although during practice they needed more time to diagnose system failures and made significantly more incorrect diagnoses.
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This report presents three studies concerned with learning how to operate a simple control panel device, and how this learning is affected by understanding a device model that describes the internal mechanism of the device. The first experiment compared two groups, one of which learned a set of operating procedures for the device by rote, and the other learned the device model before receiving the identical procedure training. The model group learned the procedures faster, retained them more accurately, executed them faster, and simplified inefficient procedures far more often, than the rote group. The second study demonstrated that the model group is able to infer the procedures much more easily than the rote group, which would lead to more rapid learning and better recall performance. The third study showed that the important content of the device model was the specific configuration of components and controls, and not the motivational aspects, component descriptions, or general principles. This specific information is what is logically required to infer the procedures. Thus, the benefits of having a device model depend on whether it supports direct and simple inference of the exact steps required to operate the device. Peer Reviewed http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/24767/1/0000190.pdf
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Psychophysical functions describe the relationship between variations in the amplitude of a defined physical quantity and the psychological perception of these changes. Examples are brightness, loudness, and pain. The regularities of these relationships have been formulated into psychophysical laws. The measurement methodology of psychophysical scaling has been refined by the Harvard group led by Stevens (1957 and 1966), who proposed a power function as a general form for such laws. It is argued here that a similar scaling approach can be adapted to the measurement of workload and task demands based upon subjective estimates. The rationale is that these estimates, like other psychophysical judgments, reflect the individual's perception of the amount of processing resources that the subject invests to meet the demand imposed by a task. This approach was successfully applied to the assessment of 21 experimental conditions given to a group of 60 subjects. The paper discusses the main results of this effort and their implications to theory and application in human performance.
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A theoretical framework for diagnosis in technical environments is presented, consisting of three layers. At the first layer, the task structure, top-level goals of the diagnostic tasks are identified that have to be fulfilled during task execution. This task structure may also be viewed as a global strategy to carry out the diagnostic task. The second layer of knowledge consists of the relevant local strategies by means of which values are obtained for goals in the task structure. The third layer consists of underlying domain knowledge. This theoretical framework is used to interpret the results as presented in the literature on diagnosis in technical environments. Finally, based on this framework, recommendations are made with respect to the training of diagnostic skill.
An experimental tool for the investigation of human control behavior of slowly responding dynamic systems is described. Process (Program for Research on Operator Control in an Experimental Simulated Setting) is a simulation of a dynamic water-alcohol distillation system that is especially useful in research on operator training. In particular, Process was developed to conduct research on fault management skills
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