Exploration of a Brunswik learning environment developed to instruct basic statistical concepts

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Virginia Tech


An ongoing debate persists of the value of computerized delivery of instructional material. At the center of this debate about the value of computer-assisted-instruction (CAI) is (1) the lack of a theoretical base and (2) the question of whether CAI influences the learner. Research begun by Brunswik allows the value of accommodation of individual learning preferences to be applied. CAI also has the capacity to supplement the presentation of textbook content and support educators using a multimodal approach to teaching that accommodates individual preferences. This study examined the development of an environment to presented stimulation which could add to the motivation of learners.

This study investigated the relationship between the creation of a CAI learning environment based on Brunswik’s psychology and 102 master and doctoral students' cognitive styles. The study investigated the ability of two cognitive measures to predict the CAI presentation method best suited for an individual's cognitive ability. Two different cognitive measures were regressed against three different CAI presentation methods (text only, text and static graphics, and text and animated graphics). These three different methods were used for delivery of a basic instructional design since they were simple for the user to follow and easily created via a multimedia environment for the designer. Instruction using these methods was limited to three content areas: random sampling, systematic sampling, and skewness of distribution.

An Aptitude-Treatment-Interaction (ATI) analysis was used to study the interaction between participants' cognitive attributes and CAI presentation types. While a significant effect was not found in most of the recall tests, many disordinal interactions demonstrated tendencies that warranted further study.

An ANCOVA was also performed using the total immediate recall scores showing significant differences among the CAI presentation types. The results of a one-way ANOVA found that participants assigned to the text only CAI presentation method tested better than their counterparts using the graphic additions to the textual instruction.