The effects of autonomous learning on cognitive load and learning results

Chantal Gorissen*, Liesbeth Kester, Saskia Brand-Gruwel, Rob Martens

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceOtherAcademic

    Abstract

    In this study we examined the research question, does autonomy support in a hypermedia environment lead to different types of motivation, performance and experienced cognitive load compared to learner control and system control? While taking into account students’ SAT-scores and academic self regulation style (ASRS). A total of 69 grade 5 students studied video material about volcano’s and earthquakes. The setup was a between subjects design with three conditions. In the first condition (fixed procedure) students worked in a standardized way. In the second condition (learner control) the students had to choose their own study material from a database, no structure was provided. In the last condition (autonomy) the students had control over the type of control for each task, by being able to choose their own study materials (condition two), follow the structured learning path (condition one), or creating a mix of the two. Results showed a significant interaction for the condition and the ASRS. Students in the fixed procedure condition with an autonomous ASRS felt more competent. There was a main effect for ASRS on mental effort, which showed that students with a controlled ASRS experienced more cognitive load, during the learning phase as well as during both test phases (immediate and 3 months later). The ASRS also had a significant effect on the proportion of advice that was followed by students in the autonomy condition. Students with an autonomous ASRS tended to follow more advice compared to the students with a controlled ASRS. It appears that in this study the learner characteristic ASRS influenced the way in which learners dealt with the hypermedia environment in an important way. When designing instructions for hypermedia environments this might be worth taking into account.

    Conference

    Conference14th Biennial EARLI Conference for Research on Learning and Instruction
    Abbreviated titleEARLI 2011
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    CityExeter
    Period30/08/113/09/11
    Internet address

    Keywords

    • Motivation
    • Self-Determination Theory
    • Autonomy
    • Hypermedia

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