Effects of learner control and learner characteristics on learning a procedural task

Date of Completion

January 1992


Education, Tests and Measurements|Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Technology of




The purpose of this study was to compare the effectiveness (the amount of knowledge gained and changes in attitude and efficacy) and efficiency (the time required to learn) of learner control and program control on procedural learning. The interaction effects between instructional control and subjects' prior knowledge of the instructional task and relevant ability were also examined. In this study, the instructional task was the making of an origami (paper-folded) crane. The relevant ability was subject's mental rotation ability and the prior knowledge for the instructional task was the making of an origami elephant.^ The sample was comprised of 131 undergraduate volunteers. Two treatments (learner-control or program-control group) of interactive videodisc instruction were randomly assigned to subjects. In each treatment, two sub-treatments (prior knowledge group and novice group) were randomly assigned to subjects. Subjects in each prior knowledge group received video instruction in the making of an origami elephant until they achieved mastery. Evidence of mastery was considered as providing the prior knowledge of the instructional task. All subjects were administered the Vandenberg's Test of Mental Rotation (Vandenberg & Kuse, 1978). After the treatments, subjects' performance score, time to completion, post-instruction self-efficacy, and attitude toward instruction were measured.^ A Hotelling's $T\sp2$ was first performed to examine the main effect between learner control and program control. Then, a 2 x 2 x 2 (treatment x mental rotation ability x prior knowledge) Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) and Canonical Variate Analysis (CVA) were followed to investigate the interaction effects. The results indicated learner-control was superior to program-control instruction on student performance, attitudes toward instruction, and self-efficacy. But, subjects in program-control instruction used time more efficiently than those in learner-control instruction. Based on the results of the CVA, there was a significant interaction found between the instructional control and subjects' mental rotation ability.^ This study provided empirical evidence illustrating the power of learner-control and relevant ability in procedural learning on performance, attitudes, and self-efficacy. ^