Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences

Department name when degree awarded

Instructional Technology

Committee Chair(s)

Byron R. Burnham


Byron R. Burnham


Brett E. Shelton


Joanne P. H. Bentley


David A. Wiley


Robert J. Mills


The purpose of this study was to measure the influence of an ambient peppermint aroma on participants' time-on-task and performance while using FACTOR, an open-source e-Learning application. I proposed time-on-task was moderating between olfactory stimulation and performance.

A 2x2 research design measured interaction of group (nonscented, scented) and gender of participants (N = 65). The learning content consisted of 28 African countries. Two methods for measuring time-on-task were employed: participant self-report at six learning intervals, and second, video recordings captured by, and stored on each participant's computer.

Independent samples t tests were used to measure group and gender differences in time-on-task and performance. Relationships between time-on-task and performance were assessed using bivariate correlation and were reported as r values.

Time-on-task differences between groups were not significant but garnered ES =.53. After 24 minutes of learning time, control females spent more time-on-task than control males (ES =.71), which was a statistically significant result.

There was a weak to almost neutral correlation between time-on-task of all participants and performance (r =.1) where controls showed a weaker relationship (r =.05) than treatments (r =.26). The correlation between observed time-on-task and posttest performance was neutral for controls (r = .008) but moderate for treatments (r =.38). During the 40-minute learning session, the relationship between observed time-on-task and performance was r =.04 (females) and r =.55 (males), which was statistically significant.

When examining time-on-task at the six measured intervals, the relationship with performance was strongest for treatments after 16 (r =.39) and 24 (r =.39) minutes of learning time. The direct influence of olfactory stimulation on performance was weak as the peppermint scent had a greater influence on time-on-task. Significant differences and notable effect sizes were not achieved by examining these variables.

Analysis of the entire model showed the variables (condition, time-on-task, performance) were weakly correlated (r =.19) and that only 4% of the variance in the model was explained by its variables. As such, I failed to reject the null hypothesis, which was that time-on-task did not act as a moderator between condition and performance.



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