Why advice on task selection may hamper learning in on-demand education

Bettine Taminiau, Liesbeth Kester, Gemma Corbalan, Stephen M. Alessi, Erling Moxnes, Wim H. Gijselaers, Paul A. Kirschner, Jeroen Van Merriënboer

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    In on-demand education, learners are required to plan their own learning trajectory by selecting suitable learning tasks. A positive effect on learning is expected when learners select tasks that help them fulfil their individual learning needs. However, the selection of suitable tasks is a difficult process for learners with little domain knowledge and suboptimal task-selection skills. A common solution for helping learners deal with on-demand education and develop domain-specific skills is to give them advice on task selection. In a randomized experiment, learners (N = 30) worked on learning tasks in the domain of system dynamics and received either advice or no advice on the selection of new learning tasks. Surprisingly, the no-advice group outperformed the advice group on a post-test measuring domain-specific skills. It is concluded that giving advice on task selection prevents learners from thinking about how the process of task selection works. The advice seems to supplant rather than support their considerations why they should perform the advised task, which results in negative effects on learning. Implications for future research on giving advice in on-demand education are discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)145-154
    Number of pages10
    JournalComputers in Human Behavior
    Issue number1
    Early online date23 Aug 2012
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


    • advice
    • task selection
    • on-demand education


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