Learning programming via worked-examples: the effects of cognitive load and learning styles

Abdul Rahman, Siti Soraya (2012) Learning programming via worked-examples: the effects of cognitive load and learning styles. Doctoral thesis (DPhil), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This research explored strategies for learning programming via worked-examples that
promote schema acquisition and transfer. However, learning style is a factor in how much
learners are willing to expend serious effort on understanding worked-examples, with active
learners tending to be more impatient of them than reflective learners. It was hypothesised
that these two learning styles might also interact with learners’ cognitive load. The research
proposed a worked-example format, called a Paired-method strategy that combines a
Structure-emphasising strategy with a Completion strategy. An experiment was conducted to compare the effects of the three worked-examples strategies on cognitive load measures and on learning performance. The experiment also examined the degree to which individual learning style influenced the learning process and performance. Overall, the results of the experiment were inconsistent. In comparing the effects of the three strategies, there were significant differences in reported difficulty and effort during the learning phase, with difficulty but not effort in favour of the Completion strategy. However no significant differences were detected in reported mental effort during the post-tests in the transfer phase. This was also the case for the performance on the post-tests. Concerning efficiency measures, the results revealed significant differences between the three strategy groups in terms of the learning process and task involvement, with the learning process in favour of the Completion strategy. Unexpectedly, no significant differences were observed in learning outcome efficiencies. Despite this, there was a trend in the data that suggested a partial reversal effect for the Completion strategy. Moreover, the results partially replicated earlier findings on the explanation effect. In comparing the effects of the two learning styles, there were no significant differences between active and reflective learners in the three strategy groups on cognitive load measures and on learning performance (nor between reflective learners in the Paired-method strategy and the other strategies). Finally, concerning efficiency measures, there was a significant difference between active learners in the three strategy groups on task involvement. Despite all these, effect sizes ranging from a medium to large suggested that learning styles might have interacted with learners’ cognitive load.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Engineering and Informatics > Informatics
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0309 Consciousness. Cognition Including learning, attention, comprehension, memory, imagination, genius, intelligence, thought and thinking, psycholinguistics, mental fatigue
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1050.9 Educational psychology > LB1060 Learning
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2012 12:11
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2015 13:18
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/38517

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