Last week I wrote a post discussing a SoTL agenda, which came from a talk at ACT. One of the points in that agenda was to use true experimental design in SoTL research studies. Immediately following the SoTL agenda talk (in the same room even) was a talk covering a SoTL research study where they used true experimental design! What are the chances!
The authors (Carvalho, Manke, & Koedinger, 2018) wanted to investigate how certain types of active learning may be more effective than others. They wanted to find the best practice to promote generalization or transfer of skills. They noted is was especially important to consider what’s being learned as the best learning approach is dependent on that.
For their study, the authors assigned two types of online active learning assignments. Both types of assignments, had students read about an experiment. In one type, the students were asked to explain the results given in the explanation. In the other type before reading the results, students made a prediction about what they thought the results would be, and then explain the actual results after reading about them. The design of the study was such that all student had both types of practice problems. The full design can be seen in the picture to the right.
They compared exam performance following the different types of practice, and the results suggested that the practice that required prediction followed by explanation is better for generalization than explaining alone. Also, students spent less time on the practice that required prediction followed by explanation. Students not only do better on exams following that type of practice, but they also spend less time on it. That sounds like win-win to me!
Prior research has shown that explanation promotes better integration of new and old information (Chi, 2000), but the authors aren’t entirely sure why that type of practice leads to better generalization. However, they are conducting follow-up studies to figure that out.
Earlier I noted that Carvalho, Manke, & Koedinger addressed one of the points in the SoTL agenda, but they really did more than that. They also had grounded their study in current theories/past research, and they had a large sample size (N = 119). During the conference, it was exciting to hear about a study incorporating so many of the agenda points immediately after it was presented. Also, it was a great study, and it highlighted the importance of finding the best practice that matches the learning situation.
written by Jen Blush
Carvalho, P.F., Manke, K.J, & Koedinger, K.R. (2018). Not all Active Learning is Equal: Predicting and Explaining Improves Transfer Relative to Answering Practice Questions. In T.T. Rogers, M. Rau, X. Zhu, & C. W. Kalish (Eds.), Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1458-1463). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
Chi, M. T. (2000). Self-explaining expository texts: The dual processes of generating inferences and repairing mental models. Advances in instructional psychology, 5, 161-238.