The Effects of Frequency and Quality of Interactions in a Computer-Based Learning System
The word "interactive" is used commonly when describing many teaching, learning, and training software. Yet, this word does not provide a clear picture to the users what interactivity will provide. In order to better define and understand how, and if at all, interactive software affects learning, this study examined different components of interactivity.
Two components of interactivity, frequency and quality, were used in this study. Much of the literature describe and provide comments that interactive learning is "good," but none seem to examine the components of interactivity within an empirical research study. Therefore, this study examined frequency and quality of interactivity in a human factors experiment using a Web browser and a computer simulation game. This study seems to be one of the first to experimentally investigate and test components of interactive learning.
The two components of interactivity both had two levels and therefore were varied factorially as four different types of learning materials. After going through the learning materials, each participant in the study had to go through two different testing methods. The first method was a traditional paper test of knowledge, and the second method was applying the knowledge in the computer simulation game. The latter is considered analogous to applying learned information at a workplace.
The results showed neither frequency nor quality to be significant. But, the interaction of the two components showed significance. The results lead to the conclusion that interactivity is more than one dimensional. One component alone will not alter effectiveness, but the right combination of components can provide an effective interactive learning material.