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

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgments

The views herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the organizations with which the authors are affiliated. The research reported in this paper is based upon the doctoral dissertation of Haydee M. Cuevas, University of Central Florida. Portions of this paper were presented at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 50th Annual Meeting. This research was partially supported by funding through Grant Number F49620-01-1-0214 from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to Eduardo Salas, Stephen M. Fiore, and Clint A. Bowers.

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Correspondence to Haydee M. Cuevas.

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Cuevas, H.M., Fiore, S.M. Enhancing learning outcomes in computer-based training via self-generated elaboration. Instr Sci 42, 839–859 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11251-014-9315-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11251-014-9315-8

Keywords

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