Title

The effects of cognitive task analysis-basedinstruction on students’ motivation in an undergraduate biology course

Document Type

Presentation

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association

Publication Date

4-27-2013

Abstract

Theoretical Framework

The gaps in instructional content that result from the inadvertent omission of important steps in problem-solving procedures induce higher levels of cognitive load in learners (e.g., Chandler & Sweller, 1991; Kirschner, Sweller, & Clark, 2006). With inherently challenging material the additional, extraneous cognitive load typically results in significant drops in motivation—especially persistence (Britt, 2005; Paas, Tuovinen, van Merriënboer, & Darabi, 2005). Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) is an effective tool for eliciting, analyzing, and representing expert knowledge in a more accurate and complete manner (Clark, Feldon, van Merriënboer, Yates, & Early, 2008). Empirical evidence suggests that CTA-based training systems which have explicitly accommodated the tacit nature of experts’ knowledge are significantly more effective than those that have not (e.g., Feldon et al., 2010; Merrill, 2002; Velmahos et al., 2004; see Feldon, 2007 for review).

Objective, Data Source, and Methods

This study employed a double-blind experimental design to evaluate the impact of CTA-based instruction on undergraduate biology students’ motivation compared to traditional instruction provided by a senior biology professor who has received multiple teaching awards. Supplemental online instructional videos were delivered to students in a laboratory-based undergraduate biology course (n = 2079). These lectures were either written by the professor (traditional) or derived from cognitive task analyses conducted with expert biologists (CTA-based). The biology professor was the presenter in both sets of videos.

The Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ; Pintrich, Smith, García, & McKeachie, 1991, 1993) was administered at the beginning and the end of each semester. Participants were categorized based on the patterns of their pre and post MSLQ subscale scores (i.e., low-to-high, high-to-low, low-to-low, and high-to-high on self-efficacy and task value subscales). One-sided Z tests were performed to determine whether the CTA-based group had higher proportions of participants with strengthened motivation, or lower proportions of participants with weakened motivation than the traditional group.

Results

Results show that for participants majored in disciplines not related to biology, proportion of participants (21.7%) whose self-efficacy changed from low to high in the CTA-based group was significantly higher than that (12.1%) in the traditional group, z = 2.177, 1-tailed p = .015 < .05. The participants who received CTA-based instruction perceived increasing self-efficacy at twice the rate of participants who received traditional instruction. For participants majored in biology related disciplines, results show that the proportion of participants (21.8%) whose task value changed from low to high in the CTA-based group was significantly higher than that (16.7%) in the traditional group, z = 2.227, 1-tailed p = .013 < .05. The participants who received CTA-based instruction perceived increasing task value 1.4 times more often than participants who received traditional instruction.

Significance

These results suggest that the CTA-based instruction holds promise for boosting students’ motivation in biological sciences through streaming video formats.

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