Ph.D. Research in ECT
Students in ECT conduct research and scholarship continuously through the program, beginning with the candidacy paper in the first year. Students participate in research labs and faculty projects, work under the supervision of faculty in research courses, and participate continuously in the doctoral colloquium as a research-supportive community. Over time, students publish journal articles and conference papers in addition to conducting the doctoral dissertation.
Recent Ph.D. Dissertations
Ralph Vacca, Ph.D. 2016Cultivating Situated Mindfulness in Everyday Life: A Design-Based Study of a Mobile Approach
Situated mobile learning is an expanding field that places computers as mediators of our relationship with the world around us, enabling an augmented experience that changes how we experience things and in turn make meaning out of those experiences. The dissertation asks the question, what does it mean for mobile devices that are always with us, to help us be more mindful throughout the day, especially within a context of urban living in the 21st century? The design-based research study involved three iterative design cycles of a mobile app with input from a group of adult users to explore how a mobile app can prompt mindfulness states throughout the day using surrounding context and mental events as the attentional focus, and end-of-day reflections incorporating forms of cognitive reappraisal and body awareness. Analysis involved self-report measures of mindfulness, behavior logs, and in-depth interview analysis, all mapped against conjectures that related design embodiments, to mediating processes, to outcomes of curiosity and decentering (two factors of a mindfulness state). I found that in augmenting our capacity to be vigilant and self-monitor mental events throughout the day as meditation objects, it is possible to cultivate mindfulness states. The experience allows for the enactment of the three characteristics of mental activity the Buddha described – impermanence, suffering, and not-self. However, it is important that we be critical of what we mean by mindfulness states in that the approach embodied through the app can be argued to be a diluted form of mindfulness that is excessively cognition-focused, and provides limited pathways to more non-conceptual understanding – insight. Ultimately, the dissertation posits a form of computer-supported mindfulness that makes use of situated context to induce mindfulness states, and provides a phenomenological understanding of the advantages and limitations of such an approach within the context of modern demands and traditional contemplative understandings of mindfulness.
Dixie Ching, Ph.D. 2016“Now I can actually do what I want”: Social learning ecologies supporting youth pathways in digital media making
This study examines how youth are able to pursue interest-driven learning and practice-linked identities connected to digital media making with the help of individuals in their lives. Engaging in digital media making is an important route to developing important 21st century skills, empowered civic identities, and lifelong learning; also reports indicate that individuals from non-dominant communities are less able to derive such benefits. While research in the learning sciences, community psychology, sociology and other related fields widely agree that learning and development is enhanced through social support stemming from both family and non-family individuals, most studies examining social support for digital media making have tended to focus on one context or one provider group—for example, researchers have defined specific learning roles played by either parents at home, online mentors that were part of a social networking site, or educators operating in a school-cum-out-of-school environment. Taken as a whole, these studies provide an adequate grounding concerning the types of support that youth may require for digital fluency and media making, but leave open an opportunity to more fully capture social support provision as a holistic, dynamic, learning context-spanning phenomenon. The present study seeks to address this gap by investigating how adolescents navigate relationships in a variety of settings—including their home, school, and afterschool environments—to recruit and leverage the kinds of support they need to further their digital media making interests. Through a qualitative, interview-based study of teenagers recruited from out-of-school technology-oriented programs in New York City, I provide descriptive and explanatory evidence to (1) characterize how youth conceptualize the array of resources and supportive adults and peers available to them—their social learning ecology, (2) identify signaling practices they have utilized to recruit and leverage this support, and (3) explain how youth’s support-generating signaling practices and aspects of their social learning ecologies may have implications for continued engagement in interest-driven learning activities. Such information may inform the design of more equitable learning environments that facilitate the development of long-term learning trajectories through involvement of a wider circle of potential resource providers.
Steve Yavner, Ph.D. 2016Stress, Fatigue, and Medical Students' Study Resource Selection: Implications for the Design of Educational Multimedia
Medical students are generally considered to be a unique group of experienced learners, functioning under high levels of stress and fatigue. The use of multimedia in digital environments has become a standard feature in most medical schools, but it has met with limited success. This study investigated the impact of stress and fatigue on general study resource selection, with particular interest in multimedia, and its limited uptake by medical students. A series of 58 focus groups with 107 third and fourth year medical students was conducted and a survey instrument was administered. Results produced a model of stress and fatigue for third-year medical students, and showed a statistically significant increase in multimedia usage under fatigue but not under stress alone. Further analysis of the qualitative data produced a series of 12 multimedia design and implementation factors. There may also be significant implications for the general learner population, which is also confronting increased stress and fatigue. In our media saturated world there may also be connections to the larger consumption of multimedia across society, such as in journalism and other media. With further research, we might also learn valuable information about how to more effectively communicate with each other through multimedia.
Tsu-Ting Huang, Ph.D. 2016The effects of types of reflective scaffolding and language proficiency on the acquisition of physics knowledge in a game-based learning environment
With the capability of creating a situated and engaging learning environment, video games have been considered as a powerful tool to enhance students’ learning outcomes and interest in learning. Yet, little empirical evidence exists to support the effectiveness of video games in learning. Particularly, little attention has been given to the design of specific game elements. Focusing on middle school students, the goal of this study was to investigate the effects of two types of representations of reflective scaffolds (verbal and visual) on students’ learning outcomes, game performance, and level of engagement in a video game for physics learning. In addition, the role of students’ level of English proficiency was examined to understand whether the effects of reflective scaffolds were influenced by students’ language proficiency. Two studies were conducted. Study 1 playtested the game with target players and led to game modification for its use in Study 2, which focused on the effects of different types of reflective scaffolds and level of English proficiency. The results of Study 2 showed that students who received both verbal and visual reflective scaffolds completed the most levels compared to the other groups in the given time. No significant effect of type of reflective scaffolds were found on learning outcomes despite the fact that the pattern of the learning outcomes across conditions was close to prediction. Participants’ engagement in gameplay was high regardless of the type of scaffolds they received, their interest in learning physics, and their prior knowledge of physics. The results of video analysis also showed that the game used in this study was able to engage students not only in gameplay but also in learning physics. Finally, English proficiency functioned as a significant factor moderating the effects of scaffolds, learning outcomes and game performance. Students with limited English proficiency benefited more from visual reflective scaffolds than verbal ones.
Jonathan Belman, Ph.D. 2016A Study of Empathetic Play in Serious Games
This work explores some key questions associated with designing games to foster empathy. First, how can design practice build on the understandings of empathy that have been developed in a variety of disciplines? Although empathy has been thoroughly studied in many fields, the lack of standardized nomenclature makes it difficult to apply knowledge from one to the next. Here, I present a theoretical framework that helps organize and explain research on empathy across disciplines. I also use the framework to propose heuristic best practices for designing games to foster empathy. Second, what does “empathetic play” look and feel like, and how does it impact the player? In the research presented here, 81 participants played the game Layoff. Some were prompted to play “empathetically,” while others received no prompting. Both quantitative and qualitative findings suggest that the experience of empathetic play is distinct from that of entertainment-focused play, and that empathetic play produces distinct attitudinal and behavioral consequences. Specific findings include the following: 1. Empathetic players approached in-game decisions as moral dilemmas, while entertainment-focused players were much less likely to engage with the game on moral terms. 2. Empathetic players were much more likely to experience emotional states that have been associated with empathy in prior research, i.e., empathetic concern and personal distress. 3. Empathetic players were more likely to associate their own histories with people represented in the game. 4. Once the game was over, players who had been prompted to engage empathetically donated more of their remuneration to a charity serving victims of economic hardship. Overall, these results suggest that (a) players will not reliably adopt an empathetic (as opposed to entertainment-focused) posture without some form of prompting, and that (b) empathetic engagement inside of a game can encourage altruistic behavior in the world outside the game.
Gabriela Richard, Ph.D. 2014Understanding Gender, Context and Game Culture for the Development of Equitable Digital Games as Learning Environments
The study proposes that in order to design educational games that address equitable learning outcomes, we need to understand contextual factors that can have differential effects on achievement across gender, ethnicity, culture and sexuality. Research on social identity formation, stereotype threat, school climate and the digital identity divide all underscore the importance of social context in shaping identification with, as well as confidence and performance in learning content areas, particularly math, science and technology (which includes computers and gaming). Past literature highlights that females and ethnic minorities are the most vulnerable to bias and negative stereotypes in these domains. Gender and its intersections with ethnicity and sexuality were investigated in game culture through an exploratory mixed-methods study. It consisted of a multi-year ethnography of online gaming activities in the greater gaming culture and a female-supportive online gaming community (with members across gender), as well as surveys developed from ethnographic themes. Ethnographic findings confirm that harassment is a pervasive gatekeeping practice that particularly targets and affects females and ethnic minorities in game culture and leads to silencing and marginalizing female game play; female gamers continuously wrestle with competing gendered expectations that undermined their play, particularly in co-ed environments, though also in female-supportive ones; and the female-oriented "clan" creates learning opportunities and access to female role models (that defy stereotypes) in ways that help level the playing field. Survey results demonstrate that stereotype threat, which has implications for learning and long-term outcomes through lowered confidence, performance and interest in a domain, can occur in game culture, and that females and ethnic minorities are statistically significantly more vulnerable to it. However, latent internalized gender schema (or one's internalized sense of masculinity or femininity) significantly interacts with vulnerability. Male and female members of a female-supportive clan scored significantly higher in their gaming identification and self-concept, and females of that clan were more likely to play frequently online, helping to demonstrate the positive role of supportive communities in mitigating the potential negative effects of bias and stereotype threat. The dissertation further makes recommendations for the design of efficacious and equitable educational games and learning environments.
Helen Kwah, Ph.D. 2013Coming to See Objects of Knowledge: Guiding Student Conceptualization Through Teacher Embodied Instruction in a Robotics Programming Class
This thesis explores the questions of how a teacher guides students to see concepts, and the role of gesture and gesture viewpoints in mediating the process of guidance. To examine these questions, two sociocultural theoretical frameworks--Radford's cultural-semiotic theory of knowledge objectification (e.g., 2003), and Goldman's Points of Viewing theory (e.g., 2007)--were applied to conduct a microanalytic, explanatory case study of the instructional activity of an exemplary teacher and his students in a middle school robotics programming class.
According to Radford, students acquire concepts as they draw upon semiotic resources such as language and gesture to generalize and objectify initially concrete perceptions and actions. I applied Radford's framework to explain the mediations that a teacher might enact in guiding students to objectify and see concepts. Furthermore, I focused on gesture as semiotic means because of emergent research on gesture's role in communicating the visuospatial imagery that underlies math/ scientific concepts. I extended the view of gestures to the viewpoints constructed in gesture, and applied Goldman's theory to explain how perspectives might be actively constructed and shared in the process of guiding student conceptualization.
Data was collected over a semester through participant observation, field notes, teacher and student interviews, and reviews of artifacts. Multimodal microanalyses were conducted on video data from eight class sessions.
The findings provide confirmations and some disconfirmations about the applicability of Radford's and Goldman's theories for explaining a teacher's process of guiding student conceptualization. Notably, some of Radford's notions about de-contextualization and symbolic generalizations were not confirmed. Overall, the findings are summarized through three themes including, grounding, and perceptual organizers as two ways that gesture and other means served to both index and identify action-perception schemes for bridging to the symbolic level of programming concepts and conceptual structures. A third theme of iteration, shifting, and layering described the quality of the teacher's process, and the importance of constructing shifting and multiple viewpoints in gesture and speech, as Goldman's theory proposed. Finally, implications for designing educational applications that draw upon gesture as mediational means are discussed.
Jonathan Frye, Ph.D. 2013Video Game Player Profiles: Bridging Industry, Game Studies and Social Science Perspectives
For decades, game designers and game studies experts have largely sought to understand video game players through a lens of experience and observation. Meanwhile, social science research has focused on the empirical understanding of video game players using a variety of psychological constructs. This study focuses on the creation and evaluation of Player Profiles, a theoretical framework which builds upon both the experience and knowledge of game designers and game studies academics with the empirical research of social scientists. This bridge establishes seven different Player Profiles: Competitor, Explorer, Socializer, Challenger/ Achiever, Escaper, and Stimulation Seeker. Two studies are presented, investigating the validity of the Player Profile Framework and examining its potential use in game design to increase learning and engagement in educational games for adolescents. A large scale survey of adults and small scale survey of adolescents were conducted. Participants completed validated measures of goal orientation, personality aspects, and video game uses and gratification. Additional questionnaires included the Player Profile Questionnaire (PPQ) and a measure of preferred video game features. A model-based cluster analysis of the adult sample revealed implications for cultural differences in player profiles as well as indications that players exhibit multiple player profiles. Analysis of the PPQ establishes the first significant empirical link between game design experience and the psychological constructs examined, also revealing a consistency between adolescents and adults. A second study asked adolescents from study 1 to play two learning games, each featuring prominent game design features intended for a specific profile, Competitor or Fantasizer. Although results were mixed, players who met the criteria for the Fantasizer profile scored significantly higher on the posttest of the Force Fantasy game than those who did not. Results establish the potential of the Player Profile Framework and create a foundation for future research.
James Diamond, Ph.D. 2012"You weren't doing what you would actually do, you were doing what people wanted you to do": a study of historical empathy in a digital history game
Historical empathy connotes "perspective taking-in-historical-context," or explaining the intentions that motivated behavior within a framework of beliefs, values, and institutions, among other factors, as they existed at some time and in some place, rather than through contemporary norms and perspectives. As a construct, historical empathy is difficult to achieve.
This mixed method study explored 38 middle students' experiences of historical empathy in a digital history game. As an interactive medium that provides feedback, video games might be effective tools with which to help learners become better historical thinkers. The goal of the study was to learn more about the relationship between player agency and achieving perspective taking.
I hypothesized that three factors might influence players' achievement of historical empathy in the game: prior knowledge, theory of mind (or social understanding), and game play. After operationalizing knowledge using a multiple-choice test and theory of mind using participants' open-ended responses to questions about two ambiguous social scenarios, I sorted students into high and low knowledge and social understanding groups. I operationalized historical empathy using player think-aloud statements and responses to interview questions. The results of two Fisher's exact tests revealed a positive association between prior knowledge and historical empathy and no association between historical empathy and theory of mind. The effect size for the first finding is small, but warrants additional investigation, and the second finding suggests the way theory of mind was operationalized was too broad.
Analysis of player statements suggested that, for at least half the participants, the ways in which they engaged in role-play and strategy complicated historical perspective taking, as some evidenced "slippage" between their historical player-character and themselves when reasoning through problems. Thus, role-playing games might encourage "human connection" with the past, while simultaneously making "objective" accounts more difficult.
The conclusions suggest that history teachers might use games following direct instruction such that students are prepared to contextualize game events. Further, game designers should anticipate "slips" between players' real-world identities and player-character identities and design constraints that can push back on--without stifling--players' "presentist" assumptions.
Chris Allen, Ph.D. 2011The Effects of Visual Complexity on Cognitive Load as Influenced by Field Dependency and Spatial Ability
The goal of the present research was to investigate the effects of visual complexity on cognitive load and learning outcomes. Cognitive Load Theory and the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning provide evidence that removing extraneous information from an image will result in greater cognitive resources available for learning. Participants were recruited from a small Catholic liberal arts college in northern New Jersey and ranged in age from 18 to 72. To measure prior knowledge, participants completed two questions. The first question asked participants to rate their expertise on glassblowing from "Novice" to "Expert" while the second question was a series of five statements that gradually became more complex. For the treatment, participants completed a computer-mediated instruction on the process of glassblowing. Each participant received only one condition of High (photographic), Medium (cartoon), or Low (line drawing) visual complexity. Concurrent to the treatment, cognitive load was measured using the participants' reaction times on a secondary task. To assess the effects of the treatment condition, participants completed an 18 item learning outcome assessment. In addition to the treatment condition, participants completed the Card Rotation Test as a measure of spatial ability and the Group Embedded Figures Test (GEFT) as a measure of field dependency. These measures were used as covariates in the analysis. To determine if the treatment altered participants' perception of glassblowing, individuals responded to a pre and post question asking them to rate their interest on the topic. Analysis of Covariance revealed a significant main effect for the treatment condition as the Independent Variable, cognitive load as the Dependent Variable, and field dependency as a covariate. An Analysis of Covariance also revealed a significant main effect for the treatment condition as the Independent Variable, the learning outcome as the Dependent Variable, and field dependency as the covariate. These results are consistent with the tenets of Cognitive Load Theory and the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning and suggest that removing extraneous visual information does impact the level of cognitive load and can, potentially, improve learner efficacy.
Joshua Schreier, Ph.D. 2011Teaching and technology: beliefs and implementation among fifth and sixth grade public school teachers
School districts across the country devote considerable resources to the acquisition and dissemination of technology hardware and software into schools. Entities such as school boards or local school administrations determine and approve these allocations. However, teachers make the final decision whether or not to adopt and implement Information Communication Technology (ICT) in their classes. And, in the event that teachers make affirmative decisions regarding ICT, use of the resources can be inconsistent (Ertmer, Addison, Lane, Ross, & Woods, 1999).
This study addresses the decisions of one group of teachers to adopt and implement ICT in their classrooms. Rogers' Diffusion of Innovation theory (2003) frames an examination of how these teachers in an urban elementary school make their decisions to adopt and implement ICT in their classrooms: What factors affect their decisions, and in what ways? Diffusion of Innovation theory presents models and processes whereby individuals or groups decide to adopt and implement a given innovation or not. Elements of diffusion theory that apply to this research are Rogers' definitions of innovation and its characteristics, and the Innovation-Decision Process which describes a path potential adopters of an innovation take as they make their decisions about adoption and implementation.
Maaike Bouwmeester, Ph.D. 2011Examining the effects of reflective rubrics in the e-portfolio peer review process on pre-service teachers' ability to integrate academic coursework and field experiences
This study investigated how teacher education students and their instructors experienced an e-portfolio initiative that incorporated scaffolded reflective activities designed to foster deeper integration between academic coursework and field experiences. A secondary objective of the study was to examine how structured peer and instructor feedback on the students' reflective writing contributed to the development of deeper levels of reflection. To date, little research has been done on how specific scaffolds and feedback structures already available in many e-portfolio platforms can be used to promote deeper reflective practice- highly sought-after learning outcome in teacher education programs.
This qualitative study was conducted within an education methods course over one semester. The study included case studies of six pre-service teachers completing their Masters degrees in a science education program within a large university. Students were assigned weekly reflective writing assignments intended to help them integrate concepts, ideas, and theories from their coursework with learning gained from field experiences. Students also built out an e-portfolio in which they included their reflective writing. The e-portfolio environment included two scaffolds designed to support deeper reflection and promote integration. One scaffold was a reflective rubric designed to support thinking and writing strategies; the other was peer and instructor feedback using the reflective rubric to structure their feedback.
The study made both a theoretical and practical contribution to the study of reflection and integration of academic course work and field experience. On the theoretical side, a comprehensive analysis- supported by data and structured around a theoretical framework- explored the relationship between reflection and integration. Four factors were found to influence students' ability to integrate learning through reflection: topic relevance, reinforcement of connections, student disposition, and instructor style. The study also provided practical insights into how e-portfolio software that included embedded supports and peer feedback processes could be structured to optimize learning. The broader implications of this study may help inform the current debate about teacher education quality and teacher effectiveness.
Yoo Kyung Chang, Ph.D. 2010Examining metacognitive processes in exploratory computer-based learning environments using activity log analysis
Metacognition is widely studied for its influence on the effectiveness of learning. With Exploratory Computer-Based Learning Environments (ECBLE), metacognition is found to be especially important because these environments require adaptive metacognitive control by the learners due to their open-ended structure that allows for multiple learning paths. Although researchers recognize the importance of metacognitive processes when learning with ECBLE, there is a small number of studies that systematically investigated the metacognitive processes.
This dissertation addressed the problem by developing and validating a method, the Behavioral Measure of Metacognitive Processes (BMMP), to examine metacognitive processes. The first study established the construct validity and reliability of the BMMP through triangulation with the verbal learning process data from think-aloud protocol.
The second study applied the BMMP to examine the predictive validity of the methods while studying the effects of learners' prior knowledge, interest, and self-efficacy on their metacognitive processes and learning outcome. The predictive validity was established by demonstrating the ability of the BMMP measures to predict the learning outcome. While learners' cognitive and motivational characteristics did not predict how well learners metacognitively controlled their learning process, all learners benefited with better learning outcome when they exercised more adaptive metacognitive control during learning. Also, learners' perceived cognitive load predicted the learning outcome.
The third study further examined the predictive validity of the BMMP by studying whether procedural scaffolds can benefit learners with more adaptive metacognitive control and subsequent learning. A worksheet was used as scaffold to assist learners through the steps of scientific inquiry. While most subjects demonstrated adaptive metacognitive control, the learning outcome depended on their prior knowledge and mastery goal-orientation. Also, subjects with high mastery goal-orientation were more likely to demonstrate selective use of the scaffold.
The BMMP reliably provided means to examine when, why, and for whom learning with ECBLE can be effective. The BMMP can also be used with other examples of ECBLE, such as games. However, given the known limitations of the behavioral data, triangulation with other data sources, such as verbal data, is recommended for future research.
Christine Rosalia, Ph.D. 2010EFL Students as peer advisors in an online writing center
The facilitation of peer feedback on academic writing is often lauded for its myriad cognitive, affective, social, and linguistic benefits. However, educators face conflicting research results when seeking empirical guidance on efficient methods to support peer feedback, particularly for their English language learners. This study contributes to the body of research on second language peer review by examining the effects of being an anonymous peer online writing advisor on the advisor's own (1) writing proficiency, (2) quality of feedback he or she produces, and (3) self- regulation. Unlike previous studies that have focused on the reciprocal relationships between classmates as the "peers" exchanging a common assignment, this mixed-methods study investigates group co-construction of feedback for third party writers. Different from previous work is the focus on the giver of feedback, separate and distinct, from the original writer who asked for help.
The givers of feedback, peer advisors, in this 12-week study were 10 EFL writers working in a peer online writing center in Japan. They were compared with 11 similar students who had applied to be peer advisors, but who had missed the required pre-semester training. Peer advisors were given an online intervention that provided layers of feedback-on-feedback, not just from other peer advisors, but also from teachers facilitating the quality of advice.
Though the treatment of being a peer advisor did not improve writing quality on timed persuasive writing tests, peer advisors wrote longer essays that included a greater range of metadiscourse features. In 12 weeks, peer advisors increased the length of the feedback they provided and the number of techniques they used in advice giving, particularly improving how they addressed the writer's question, showed sensitivity to positive affect, and modeled appropriate language-use for writers. In addition, the practice of co-constructing online peer feedback was found to trigger and sustain advisors' own self-regulation. Peer advisors reported using more writing strategies than the comparison group. Last, within-group analysis of peer advisors according to previous work experience suggested that giving peer feedback improved self-regulation and quality of advice-giving over time.
Hyuk Soon Song, Ph.D. 2010The effects of learners’prior knowledge, self-regulation, and motivation on learning performance in complex multimedia learning environments.
Many medical schools have developed computer-based, multimedia learning environments to fill the knowledge gap and provide common cases and resources to students. However, considering that multimedia in education may impede effective learning if the characteristics of learners and tasks are not considered thoroughly in instructional design, it is critical to develop a comprehensive understanding of learner characteristics in medical multimedia learning environments. Although many researchers agree that learners’ prior knowledge, self-regulation, and motivation are important to explain learning processes, few studies have investigated their combined effects. Therefore, the current study examined the direct and indirect effects of medical clerkship students’ prior knowledge, self-regulation, and motivation on learning performance in multimedia learning environments using structural equation modeling. The data of 386 medical clerkship students from 6 U.S. medical schools were analyzed. Students completed a prior knowledge test, the Self-Regulation Measure in Computer-assisted learning (SRMC), and motivational questionnaires (self-efficacy, goal-orientation, task value) during the first week of clerkship. From the second to the fourth week of clerkship rotation, the participants were asked to use the 45-minute Web Initiatives for Surgical Education-MD (WISE-MD) module on carotid artery disease. Right after taking the module, they completed posttest measures including the knowledge posttest and the Script Concordance test. The structural model showed that medical clerkship students’ prior knowledge directly positively affected their learning outcome (β = .422, p < .001), self-efficacy (β = .300, p < .001) and performance approach goal orientation (β = .294, p < .001). The learners’ self-regulation showed a significant positive direct effect on learning outcome (β = .581, p < .001). In terms of motivational constructs, learners’ mastery goal orientation directly affected their learning outcome (β = .358, p = .006). However, inconsistent with the hypothesis, learners’ performance approach goal orientation showed a significant negative direct effect on learning outcome (β = -.261, p = .024), and performance avoidance goal orientation had a significant positive effect on learning outcome (β = .259, p = .010). The findings were discussed to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the role of individual characteristics in medical multimedia learning environments.
Ruth Schwartz, Ph.D. 2010Considering the activity in interactivity: A multimodal perspective
What factors contribute to effective multimedia learning? Increasingly, interactivity is considered a critical component that can foster learning in multimedia environments, including simulations and games. Although a number of recent studies investigate interactivity as a factor in the effective design of multimedia instruction, most examine only the broad question of whether interactivity is included or excluded. This study focuses on a more fine-grained exploration of how interactive elements can be designed to be most effective. Based on theoretical approaches to active learning, it investigates whether differences at the level of presentation and motor control influence the effectiveness of a computer presentation. How does the added modality of gesture contribute to what is heard and seen? Do the specific motor actions performed in using a computer simulation, for example dragging versus clicking, affect retention of the information presented? Participants were presented with a series of forty spoken phrases describing actions, such as "walk the dog." They were asked to listen to each phrase and, in addition, do one of the following: simply listen; look at a graphic; click on the graphic to see an animation of the phrase; click and drag the graphic to "perform" the action described in the phrase. They were subsequently asked to recall as many of the phrases as possible. It was hypothesized that the higher level of motor activity involved in clicking and dragging would result in the best recall.
Ian Aronson, Ph.D. 2009The effects of a multimedia video intervention's emotional content and ethnic matching on hiv prevention and testing related knowledge, behavior, and intent
This study examined participant response to a series of educational video segments delivered on a handheld computer. Each intervention video segment was developed to test a relevant theory of educational media production. The study addressed two related issues: Should an educational video presentation feature people who are ethnically matched to the viewer, or will the depiction of people who intentionally do not match the viewer result in greater effectiveness? Further, does video content designed to elicit a positive emotional response in viewers lead to greater effectiveness than content designed to elicit a negative emotional response, such as fear or anger?
To study issues of matching and emotional content in an authentic, meaningful context, I developed a computer-based video learning environment to educate emergency department patients about HIV testing and prevention. It appears from the data that various groups responded to this study's treatments in very different ways. Not only did interesting between-group differences emerge by ethnicity, but the treatments which resulted in greater numbers of people accepting an HIV test when they had not been offered a test at triage were not necessarily the same treatments that led participants to accept a test after they had refused one earlier.
This may indicate that instead of the standard practice of delivering a single type of educational video content to all learners, or even to particular groups of learners, future interventions can be fine-tuned for greater effectiveness among members of specific population groups and to achieve specific cognitive, affective, or behavioral outcomes.
Richard Panzer, Ph.D. 2008The effects of fear versus norm appeals and directive versus cognitively flexible designs in abstinence-centered multimedia education on teen sexual attitudes, intentions and behaviors
A national survey found that a majority of adults and teens agree that schools should give teens a strong message that they should abstain from sex until they are at least out of high school (National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2003), yet there is no consensus in our country as to whether programs that have a strong abstinence message are effective in delaying teen sexual involvement (Hymowitz, 2003).
The present study compares the effect of an abstinence-centered sexual health education multimedia program based on cognitive flexibility theory on the attitudes and intentions of ninth-grade students at a New Jersey high school with the effects of a multimedia program that utilizes a traditional instructive, directive approach. In addition, the study compares the effect of a presentation based on the Health Beliefs model emphasizing consequences of teen sexual behavior on teens' attitudes and intentions with the impact of a presentation based on a Character Education model that asserts norms of healthy sexual behaviors.
Both the traditional instructional design and the Cognitive Flexibility Theory (CFT)-based design for abstinence-centered teen sexuality education were significantly more effective than no sex education in impacting the sexual attitudes and intentions of this racially diverse cohort of ninth-grade students, including the several racial/ethnic groups represented in the study and both genders. The traditional instructional design was significantly more effective than the CFT design, suggesting that a directive, instructional approach in abstinence-centered sexual health education can strengthen the impact on teens' attitudes and intentions to abstain from sex. Both the threat-appeal presentation and the norms/ideals presentation were significantly effective in impacting both male and female students' sexual attitudes and intentions. The norms/ideals presentation was significantly more effective than the threat-appeal presentation in impacting many attitudinal scales and questions, suggesting that discussions of norms and ideals should not be omitted in sex education that seeks to increase teen abstinence.
Eun Joon Um, Ph.D. 2008The effect of positive emotions on cognitive processes in multimedia based learning
The purpose of this 12-week study was to examine the impact of an after-school technology program that was designed to appeal to girls to see if it would affect their attitudes about computers or their willingness to continue to explore technology in the future. The study was also designed to gather information on what some girls like and dislike when working with computers in the hopes that this knowledge might help educators to create more palatable learning environments for women that could inspire increased interest in technology.
Subjects included a total of 39 female students consisting of 23 fourth-graders and 17 fifth-graders who voluntarily joined an after-school computer club created for the study at a suburban elementary school in the Mid-Hudson Valley region of New York State. Both quantitative and qualitative data were compiled.
No significant difference was found in girls' general technology attitudes and interests from pre-test to post-test conditions in this study. Significant differences were, however, found in response to six individual questions indicating some change in girls' attitudes by the end of study.
This study examined and acknowledged the complex interconnected influences on female technology attitudes that make solutions to improving girls' attitudes demanding to find. It concluded with an appeal not to let the difficulty of this task deter researchers from continued investigation.
Michaele Brown, Ph.D. 2008Constructing knowledge in online discussions: Supporting theory to practice in special education teacher education
The purpose of this study was to explore instructional design of online discussions effective at fostering critical thinking. The participants were pre-service teachers enrolled in a special education teacher education program. Undergraduate juniors in a practicum participated in online discussions about case studies of children with emotional and behavioral disorders. One case study presented information about a child in an interactive multimedia learning program. The other case study was of a real child in the participants' student teaching field placement.
Prior research indicated a growing use of online discussion in educational programs blended with face-to-face instruction. Advantages that have been cited for using online discussions include: (a) time to think-through more structured and in-depth responses before posting; (b) exposure to multiple perspectives; and, (c) increasing higher-order thinking by helping students make connections and become better at critiquing, questioning, and analyzing. Online discussions offer opportunities for discourse to help teacher-candidates reflect upon their beliefs, the perspectives of others, and how those beliefs may influence their teaching practices. The effectiveness of online discussions requires careful balancing among the task design, facilitation of the interaction process and scaffolding of participants.
In this quasi-experimental research design of two course sections, critical thinking evident in online discussions structured around authentic roles involved in working with children with special needs was compared with the critical thinking resulting from open-ended discussion forums. Critical thinking was measured using the Interaction Analysis Model's five phases of knowledge construction wherein phases III to V denotes critical thinking. No statistically significant differences were found. Evidence suggests, however, that the task requirement for group summaries of key discussion points, conclusions, or recommendations advanced critical thinking for both course sections. Evidence also indicates that the treatment may have lead to participants' postings that represented deeper, more critical understanding of the concepts and issues of the course materials.
Jonathan deHaan, Ph.D. 2008Video games and second language acquisition: The effect of interactivity with a rhythm video game on second language vocabulary recall, cognitive load, and telepresence
Commercial video games can be beneficial to second language acquisition; however, interactivity, a fundamental feature of the media, has been nearly ignored in terms of its effect on noticing and recall. In this study, I investigated the effect of video game interactivity on vocabulary acquisition from two perspectives, either that the interactivity would induce extraneous cognitive load and hinder learning, or that the interactivity would make the players experience telepresence (i.e., feel present in the game world) and help learning. Eighty Japanese university undergraduates were randomly selected and paired based on similar language and game proficiencies; one subject played a commercial English-language rhythm video game for 20 minutes and the other subject watched the game simultaneously on a connected monitor. Following the gameplay, subjects completed identical vocabulary recall tests, cognitive load measures (i.e., mental effort and perceived difficulty), telepresence measures, experience questionnaires, and a 2-week delayed vocabulary recall test. Both the players and the watchers of the video game did recall second language vocabulary; however, the players recalled significantly less vocabulary, which seems to be a result of the cognitive load induced by the interactivity of the game. The players and watchers seem to have invested similar mental effort in the game and its language, but the players perceived both to be more difficult than the watchers did. The interactivity appeared to have prevented the players from noticing and recalling vocabulary. The subjects did not differ significantly in their experiences of telepresence, which may be a result of the type of the interactivity in the game. If the interactivity had been more reflective, planned, or purposeful, the players may have felt more present in the world of the video game, and perhaps noticed the vocabulary in a different manner. The interactivity of this game seems to have hindered attention to its vocabulary; however, other types of interactivities may have different results. Further language learning projects should target other types of game interactivity, and students and teachers should consider interactivity's potential hindrance of learning outcomes.
Chaoyan Dong, Ph.D. 2008Positive emotions and learning: What makes a difference in multimedia design?
Does the design of the user interface affect learners' emotions in educational environments? For example, does an aesthetically pleasing design enhance multimedia learning? Research indicates that interacting with any multimedia design inevitably induces emotions in learners, and that the induced emotions are important environmental input that may affect multimedia learning. This dissertation investigates how aesthetically pleasing design affects multimedia learning. Two studies were conducted in which the participants watched a multimedia module with a scientific explanation about the formation of lightning that either contained an aesthetically pleasing interface design or a neutral interface design.
Study 1 answered the question whether an aesthetically pleasing design can induce positive emotions in the learners. Interview results indicated that viewing the aesthetically pleasing design did induce much stronger positive emotions than viewing the neutral design. Quantitative data from the Positive Emotions Inventory (PEI) did not reveal a similar effect of the interface design on learners' emotions. Study 2 examined whether an aesthetically pleasing design enhanced multimedia learning. The results showed that the interface design did not affect lower-level learning as measured by recall performance. However, learners receiving the aesthetically pleasing interface design had increased higher-level learning as measured by a problem-solving test than learners receiving the neutral design.
Combining the results from both studies, findings indicate that learners' emotions were effected by interface manipulations such as the aesthetically pleasing interface, and that these interface manipulations improved higher-level learning, but not lower-level learning. This suggests that aesthetically pleasing design enhanced mental model construction but not rote learning. The results of this dissertation offer encouraging evidence that aesthetically pleasing design can result in deeper learning if the design induces positive emotions in the learners. Therefore, instructional designers should consider the effects that the design of educational materials can have on learners' emotions, and, in turn, on learning outcomes.
Reneta Lansiquot, Ph.D. 2008Artifacts, social studies, and language arts: How interactive iconography can improve children’s writing
A three-month study examined how interactive iconography (interactive: non-sequential and user-controlled interfacing; iconography: a set of pictures or symbols connected with people or themes) impacts social studies and promotes critical writing skills. Groups of three middle-school immigrant students constructed museum labels (paragraphs, textual descriptions of an artifact) using Scope Out, an experimental online revision tool that makes iconography interactive. This study included three comparison groups and one control group. All students provided paper-based writing samples before and after the study. Analyses of student writing revealed multiple revisions and statistically significant improvement over the control group. Overall, student-reported writing apprehension and computer anxiety decreased. Results indicate a positive relationship between the reading of iconography and writing skills.