Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 87–99 | Cite as

Reexamining the Nature of Learner Control: Dimensionality and Effects on Learning and Training Reactions

Article

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to advance learner control as a psychological construct by reexamining its dimensionality and effects on learning and reactions in the context of technology-delivered training.

Design/methodology/approach

Learners (n=384) completed a 2-h web-based Microsoft Excel training. The amount of instructional and scheduling control was manipulated in order to introduce variance in control perceptions. Outcome measures included off-task attention, declarative knowledge, and training reactions.

Findings

Learner control is a multidimensional construct with differential effects on training outcomes. By focusing on learners’ perceptions of control, we found that instructional control perceptions decreased learning by increasing off-task attention, while scheduling control perceptions increased learning.

Implications

Though both dimensions of perceived learner control are positively related to training reactions, they differentially predict learning. Combined with factor analytic evidence, our study suggests that learner control research should differentiate between objective and perceived learner control, and between instructional and scheduling control perceptions. Organizations should consider how learner control affects learning prior to designing training.

Originality/value

Scheduling control is an often used but rarely researched form of learner control. We address this gap by expanding the construct domain of learner control to include scheduling control. Further, this study provides the first empirical examination of learner control perceptions. Despite calls for learner control literature to differentiate between objective and perceived control, no study had previously examined control perceptions directly. Our results may be used to inform organizational decisions regarding the amount and type of control included in training.

Keywords

E-learning Distributed learning environments Off-task attention Perceived control Training reactions Web-based training 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Organizational Sciences and CommunicationThe George Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA

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