Instructional Science

, Volume 42, Issue 6, pp 839–859

Enhancing learning outcomes in computer-based training via self-generated elaboration


DOI: 10.1007/s11251-014-9315-8

Cite this article as:
Cuevas, H.M. & Fiore, S.M. Instr Sci (2014) 42: 839. doi:10.1007/s11251-014-9315-8


The present study investigated the utility of an instructional strategy known as the query method for enhancing learning outcomes in computer-based training. The query method involves an embedded guided, sentence generation task requiring elaboration of key concepts in the training material that encourages learners to ‘stop and think’ about the information already presented before proceeding to new concepts. This study also investigated the effect of varying the level of elaboration (low or high) prompted by the queries. Fifty-one undergraduate students from the general psychology department subject pool at a major university in the southeastern United States received instruction on the basic principles of flight via one of three versions of a computer-based tutorial (no query, low-level elaboration query, or high-level elaboration query). Participants had no prior knowledge or previous experience with the aviation domain. A one-way between-groups design was employed, with the query method serving as the independent variable and a sample size of 17 per condition. Dependent variables included knowledge organization, knowledge acquisition, and instructional efficiency. Overall, results showed that incorporating low-level elaboration queries into the training resulted in improved organization, integration, and application of task-relevant knowledge and higher instructional efficiency. High-level elaboration queries consistently failed to produce significantly better post-training outcomes, possibly due to the increased cognitive load imposed on learners during training. The discussion centers on theoretical and practical implications for promoting and assessing learning outcomes in computer-based training.


Cognitive load Instructional efficiency Knowledge acquisition Knowledge organization Self-generated elaboration 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Doctoral Studies, College of Aviation – Room 137EEmbry-Riddle Aeronautical UniversityDaytona BeachUSA
  2. 2.Cognitive Sciences – Department of Philosophy, College of Arts and HumanitiesUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA

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