14 September 2010

Successful computer-based learning revisited

Dharmanda and Kiewra's* (2010) research on study skills and computer-based learning reiterates some meaningful knowledge to consider in the design or deployment of a technologies for learning. According to college educators over half of American students lack effective study habits. Moreover, the researchers noted, students tend to use the same ineffective strategies with computer-based learning. When researchers inserted a model such as SOAR*, based on sound pedagogical and instructional technology-design theory, students' study habits changed for the better.

*Helping students soar to success on computers: An investigation of the SOAR study method for computer-based learning. By: Jairam, Dharmananda, Kiewra, Kenneth A., Journal of Educational Psychology, 0022-0663, 2010, Vol. 102, Issue 3

This study used self-report and observation techniques to investigate how students study computer-based materials. In addition, it examined if a study method called SOAR can facilitate computer-based learning. SOAR is an acronym that stands for the method’s 4 theoretically driven and empirically supported components: select (S), organize (O), associate (A), and regulate (R). There were 2 experiments. In Experiment 1, 114 undergraduates completed a questionnaire about how they study computer-based materials. Students reported using more ineffective study strategies than effective SOAR strategies. In Experiment 2, 108 different undergraduates read an online text about wildcats and then created materials that reflected their preferred study method, the full SOAR method, or parts of the SOAR method. Specifically, the control group created their preferred study notes; the S group created a complete set of linear notes; the SO group created graphically organized matrix notes; the SOA group created a matrix and associations; and the SOAR group created a matrix, associations, and practice questions that aid self-regulation. The SOAR materials were also created in line with four theoretical principles for technology design (Mayer, 2009). Students studied their materials in preparation for fact and relationship tests. Results from both tests showed that those using the full SOAR method outscored the control group and most other groups using parts of the SOAR method. In addition, observations of students’ preferred study methods confirmed the Experiment 1 self-reports that unaided students use ineffective study strategies. Study limitations, suggestions for future research, and instructional implications are presented.