Learner-controlled selection of tasks with different surface and structural features: effects on transfer and efficiency

Gemma Corbalan, Liesbeth Kester, J.J.G. van Merrienboer

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    Abstract

    Surface task features are more salient than structural task features and thus easier to recognize for novices. It is predicted that the more salient the task features the better learners can choose personally relevant and varied tasks, which enhances learning transfer. To investigate this prediction, a 2 x 2 factorial experiment with 72 participants studied the effects of control over tasks that differ in their surface features (learner, program) and in their structural features (learner, program). Learner control over the selection of tasks with salient surface features enables learners to select personally relevant and varied tasks. This is believed to yield higher effectiveness (i.e., higher near and far transfer test performance) as well as higher efficiency (i.e., higher transfer test performance combined with lower associated mental effort). Learner control over the selection of tasks with non-salient structural features does not enable learners to select personally relevant and varied tasks and is therefore not expected to yield beneficial effects on learning. The results show positive effects of learner control over the selection of tasks with salient surface features for efficiency on the far transfer test but not for effectiveness. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)76-81
    Number of pages6
    JournalComputers in Human Behavior
    Volume27
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011

    Keywords

    • PhD project GCO
    • Task selection
    • Learner control
    • Cognitive load

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