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Unmasking Learning Myths

Adapted from “Busting Learning Myths”; By Karl M. Kapp; Bloomsburg University, 2012 and Slideshare http://goo.gl/BywCO

1. When teaching a process, you should…

  1. First: teach system components
  2. Second: Teaching the full process

Teach each component individually, and then the learner is prepared to assimilate the stages of the entire process. Otherwise you risk overloading the learner’s memory by presenting everything all at once.

Clark, R., Nguyen, F. & Sweller, J. (2006) Efficiency in Learning: Evidence-Based Guidelines to Manage Cognitive Load. New York: Pfeiffer. Pg. 162-165.

2. An animation is always more effective for learning than a series of static images

A number of studies have failed to find that animations are more effective than a series of static frames depicting the same material.

Why? Learners have to mentally animate content in still graphics. Learners control pace and speed of information presented. Memory is not overloaded by rich detail and transitory nature of presentation.

Clark, R., Mayer, R. (2011) E-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning. New York: Pfeiffer. Pg. 84-86.
  • Research is focused on Conceptual Information, understanding of processes like mechanism of action.
  • Animations work well when showing hands on procedures and transformational changes such as an animated demonstration of a computer procedure.
Clark, R., Mayer, R. (2011) E-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning. New York: Pfeiffer. Pg. 84-86.

3. The tone of e-learning should be Formal or Informal?

Informal and conversational

In 5 out of 5 studies, learners who learned with conversational text performed better on subsequent transfer tests than students who learned with formal text. Fact Learners produced between 20 to 46 percent more solutions to transfer problems than the formal group.

Clark, R., Mayer, R. (2011) E-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning. New York: Pfeiffer. Pg. 184-185.

An example:

Formal: This program is about what type of bacteria can survive on different types of surfaces when preparing food. For each type of bacteria a solution will be described. The goal is to learn which conditions allow bacteria to survive on what surface. Some hints are provided throughout the program.

Informal: You are about to learn about different types of bacteria and how they can survive on different types of surfaces when preparing food. For each type of bacteria a solution will be described to you. Your goal is to learn which conditions allow bacteria to survive on what surface. I will be guiding you by giving hints.

4. An on-screen character is distracting to the learner and does not facilitate learning as well as simple text

On transfer tests involving different word problems, the group who had a character generated 30% more correct answers than the group with on-screen text. Animated pedagogical agents (characters) can be aids to learning. A “realistic” character did not facilitate learning any better than a “cartoon-like” character.

Clark, R., Mayer, R. (2011) E-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning. New York: Pfeiffer. Pg. 194.

5. Two avatars are better than one

Motivator, Mentor, Expert

Two avatars are better than one.

Baylor, A. L. & Kim, Y. (2005). Simulating instructional roles through pedagogical agents. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, 15(1), 95-115.

6. When a graphic is the focus of instruction, words should be presented as text on screen rather than spoken

Learners may experience an overload of their visual/ pictorial channel when they must simultaneously process graphics and the printed words that refer to them. When visuals are relatively complex, using audio allows the learner to focus on the visual while listening to the explanation.

Clark, R., Mayer, R. (2011) E-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning. New York: Pfeiffer. Pg. 117.

7. Learners remember facts better, when presented as bulleted list rather than presented as a story

Researchers have found that the human brain has a natural affinity for narrative construction.

People tend to remember facts more accurately if they encounter them in a story rather than in a list.
And they rate legal arguments as more convincing when built into narrative tales rather than on legal precedent.

Carey, B. (2007) this is Your Life (and How You Tell it). The New York Times. Melanie Green http://www.unc.edu/~mcgreen/research.html

8. One way to engage learners is to present them with a difficult challenge

Jones, B., Valdez, G., Norakowski, J., & Rasmussen, C. (1994). Designing learning and technology for educational reform. North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. [Online]. Available: http://www.ncrtec.org/capacity/profile/profwww.htm and Schlechty, P. C. (1997). Inventing better schools: An action plan for educational reform. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Re-design the Instruction to Start with a Challenge

Example: Investigatory Training

Course Objectives
– Identify the Forms Required for an Investigation
– Practice Interview Techniques
– Understand and Follow the Investigation Model

9. Games are effective tools for learning because they provide interactivity to the learner and force cognitive processing

  • It wasn’t the game; it was the level of interactivity within the game.
  • In other words, the engagement of the learner in the game leads to the learning.
Sitzmann, T. (2011) A meta-analytic examination of the instructional effectiveness of computer-based simulation games. Personnel Psychology .Review of 65 studies

10. Games can influence people to behave in a pro-social manner

Greitemeyer, T. & Osswald, S. (2010) Effective of Pro social games on pro social behaviour. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol. 98 . No. 2., 211-221.

Three Elements of Games that Aid Learning

1. Characters
2. Story
3. Challenges

Recommendations

Craft instruction to provide opportunities to increase engagement and interactivity to increase learning.

  • Teach system components before teaching the entire process.
  • Animations are not always the best tool for teaching concepts. Static images tend to work better.
  • Tone of e-learning should be conversational.
  • On screen characters can enhance e-learning.
  • Two on screen characters (mentor and expert) are better than one.
  • When a graphic is the focus of instruction words should be spoken rather than presented as text.
  • Use stories rather than bulleted lists to present facts.
  • Present learners with a difficult challenge to engage and motivate them.
  • Games can influence people to behave in a pro-social manner.
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