Instructional Design Principles

24 Learner Control

Overview

Watch overview videoLearner Control (4:36)

Description

Learner control is allowing learners to govern the content and the rate at which they navigate topics and instructional elements. It will, however, allow students to bypass what might be perceived as critical information such as examples, practice elements, and/or knowledge challenges. This learning design is ideal for those that are highly self-motivated and works best with learners that have higher metacognitive skills.

Guidelines for Use

Guideline 1 – Give Experienced Learners Control

Most learners want control over the process in which they learn, however, they do not always make the best choices. This design works well if the learner has prior knowledge of the content and/or skills in the module.

Guideline 2 – Make Important Instructional Events the Default

Remove the option to bypass the key components. Remove the ‘next’ and ‘skip’ buttons for important content. This forces the learner to deliberately choose to circumvent that component (examples, practice, etc.). By having the learner consciously choose to bypass content, they are more likely to participate in the activity. This, in turn, can reduce the likelihood of a disconnected view of how confident the learner is in their performance versus what their actual performance will score at. This is known as calibration.

Guideline 3 – Design Adaptive Control

Allow for a change in difficulty based on the learner and their skill level. Have the content be tailored to the individual and as the learner progresses in their knowledge, we can increase the difficulty of the assignments and reduce the amount of support – called expertise reversal. A difficult balance to achieve. You want to challenge the learner, but not so much so that it is too challenging. There is a fine line between a difficulty that is beneficial (i.e., desirable) and a difficulty that is harmful (Westlin, Day & Hughes, 2019).

Guideline 4 – Give Pacing Control

Divide content into smaller chunks for manageability (segmenting principle). Giving the learner control over the speed of which the material is presented (controls like stop, rewind, replay, etc.), the learners spend almost three times longer on content.

Guideline 5 – Offering Navigational Support in Hypermedia Environments

Use links sparingly as many will bypass, but give a short preview of what is behind the link. Too many links are associated with cognitive overload, so use links sparingly. Use navigation options to avoid too much mouse movement. Use headings and descriptions as they help to improve memory and comprehension – just like in a traditional text document.

Good Examples of Use

Example 1 – AME Engage

This program illustrates accounting procedures for learners that progresses at their own pace. There are short tutorials where the user can receive a brief overview of the topic. There are navigational buttons that allow the user to go to the next screen, return to the previous screen, pause, play and even replay the same section. There is a page counter at the top of the screen that will indicate what screen you are on out of how many. Additionally, there is the option to bookmark a spot where the student had to pause the lesson, to return to later. There is also the option to view a full script, or to turn closed captioning on. There are practice assessments, examples and additional help and support. The learner is also able to skip complete sections and increase the complexity of the workload based on their skill level.

Example 2 – Duolingo

This web-based learning tool is designed to assist learners in mastering a new language using segmented lessons. Segmenting the lessons, allows the user to revisit any lessons(s) they choose if need be, implementing the Learner Pacing Control design element. Once the learner had determined which language they wish to pursue, Duolingo will present a short skills assessment to determine their current knowledge, which will then categorize them into a level of prior knowledge. This adaptive control design helps to avoid any redundancy with users that have some previous knowledge to bypass the introductory pieces should it be not necessary to continue.

Helpful Resources

Resource 1 – Segmenting Principle Learning Theory

This theory works well for the overall design and structure for a module with the Learner Control Principle. According to Mayer (2009), Segmenting is best applied to complex material and when the user is inexperienced with the material. This reference can assist in the completion of this process.

Reference:

Clark, R.C., & Mayer, R. E., (2011).  Applying the segmenting and pretraining principles: Managing complexity by breaking a lesson into parts.  In Matthew Davis (Ed), e-Learning and the science of instruction: proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning (pp. 204-220).  San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer

Resource 2 – Understanding Calibration Accuracy

Learners tend to overestimate their understanding of a topic. When the estimation of their perception of understanding is compared to their actual performance: this differential is called Calibration Accuracy. To understand this concept in further detail, the following resource will aid.

Reference:

Hacker, D. J., Bol, L., & Bahbahani, K. (2008). Explaining calibration accuracy in classroom contexts: the effects of incentives, reflection, and explanatory style. Metacognition Learning, 3, 101-121. DOI: 10-1007/s11409-008-9021-5

Resource 3 – Understanding Metacognitive Skills

Recent research has determined that there is a significant correlation between the Metacognition Awareness Inventory (MIA) and academic achievement (e.g., GPA, course grades, etc.) Regulation of Cognition is not easily achieved, as these applications are time-consuming to learn and implement. This reference can assist instructors in building the ability for students to improve their own ability to monitor and improve their Regulation of Cognition strategies.

Reference:

Vancouver Island University (2020).  Ten Metacognitive Teaching Strategies. [Web Page].  Available from https://ciel.viu.ca/teaching-learning-pedagogy/designing-your-course/how-learning-works/ten-metacognitive-teaching-strategies#

Research

Clark, R.C., & Mayer, R. E., (2011).  Applying the segmenting and pretraining principles: Managing complexity by breaking a lesson into parts.  In Matthew Davis (Ed), e-Learning and the science of instruction: proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning (pp. 204-220).  San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer

Clark, R.C., & Mayer, R. E., (2011).  Who’s in control? Guidelines for e-learning navigation.  In Matthew Davis (Ed), e-Learning and the science of instruction: proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning (pp. 309-338).  San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer

Hacker, D. J., Bol, L., & Bahbahani, K. (2008). Explaining calibration accuracy in classroom contexts: the effects of incentives, reflection, and explanatory style. Metacognition Learning, 3, 101-121. DOI: 10-1007/s11409-008-9021-5

Mayer, R. (2009). Segmenting Principle. In Multimedia Learning (pp. 175-188). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DOI:10.1017/CBO9780511811678.013

Vancouver Island University (2020).  Ten Metacognitive Teaching Strategies. [Web Page].  Available from https://ciel.viu.ca/teaching-learning-pedagogy/designing-your-course/how-learning-works/ten-metacognitive-teaching-strategies#

Westlin, J., Day, E.A., & Hughes, M.G. (2019). Learner-Controlled Practice Difficulty and Task Exploration in an Active-Learning Gaming Environment. Simulation & Gaming, 50(6), 812-831. DOI: 10.1177/1046878119877672

Author

Submitted by: Roxanne Stewart
Email: roxanne.mullin@ontariotechu.net
Bio: Completing M. Ed program at Ontario Tech University.  Partial Load Professor with Durham College specializing in SAP, Microsoft Office and Basic Accounting Principles.

License

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E-Learning Essentials 2020 by Power Learning Solutions is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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