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ERIC Number: ED547098
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 164
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2675-2242-9
ISSN: N/A
Effects of Task-Centered vs. Topic-Centered Instructional Strategy Approaches on Problem Solving--Learning to Program in Flash
Rosenberg-Kima, Rinat B.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Florida State University
The task-centered instructional strategy (Merrill, 2009) was designed specifically for the purpose of teaching complex problem-solving skills and emphasizes teaching in the context of a concrete real world task. Nevertheless, unlike other problem-centered instructional methods (e.g., constructivism) the task-centered instructional strategy is a form of direct instruction but in the context of authentic, real-world tasks. Unlike traditional part-task instructional strategies (e.g., Gagne, 1968), which assume that any task can be broken down into a collection of instructional objectives that need to be mastered, the task-centered instructional strategy is content-centered meaning the content-to-be-learned and not the objectives are specified first. Specifically, a progression of complete tasks with increasing complexity is specified and serves as the backbone of instruction. The purposes of the current study were to (a) investigate whether and why a task-centered approach might be superior to a topic-centered approach for problem solving, (b) attempt to reveal emotional and cognitive processes behind complex learning in the domain of technological skills, and (c) provide recommendations for effective training methods while considering individual differences. Rooted in Bandura's (1986) Social Cognitive Theory in which cognitions are assumed to mediate the effects of the environment on human behavior with a continuous reciprocal interaction, in the current model two reciprocal interactions are assumed to be in the heart of task-centered instructions. These interactions that can be viewed as two positive feedback loops include performance-motivation loop and performance-cognition loop. In the performance-motivation loop, the progression of tasks from easy to difficult increases the likelihood of successful completion leading to an increase in self-efficacy, which in turn should influence performance further (e.g., Bouffard-Bouchard, 1990). In the performance-cognitive loop, authentic-tasks, which characterize task-centered instructions, can help the learner construct schemata, which may reduce working memory and lead to better performance, which in turn may further increase schemata construction. Thus, it was expected that task-centered instruction would result in better performance as a result of motivational and cognitive considerations. To achieve the study purposes, two computer-based instructional strategies for teaching Flash were employed. In the" task-centered" condition, the learners were first presented with three tasks with increased level of difficulty. Each of the three tasks included all the elements of the whole-task, thus, in step one, for example, the learners learned the basics of timeline, texts, and buttons. In the "topic-centered" condition, on the other hand, no task was presented to the learners up front. Instead, objectives were presented to the learners at the beginning of each topic section. Thus, in the topic-centered condition, each of the three steps referred to only one of the topics. Overall, sixty five students from a large southeastern university in the United States were randomly assigned to one of the two conditions. The results revealed that participants in the task-centered condition performed significantly better on part 3 of the module, on the skill-development test, and on the near and far process development tests than participants in the topic-centered condition. In addition, participants in the task centered condition reported significantly higher cognitive load on parts 1 and 2 of the module and significantly lower cognitive load on part 3 of the module than participants in the topic-centered condition with matching differences in completion time. Regarding attitudes, consistent with the hypothesis, participants in the task-centered condition reported significantly lower computer anxiety after the module than participants in the topic-centered condition. In contrary to the hypothesis, there was no significant difference in computer self-efficacy between the conditions. Nevertheless, participants in the task-centered condition reported significantly higher confidence on part 3 of the module than participants in the topic-centered condition. In addition, as expected, participants in the task-centered condition indicated significantly higher level of relevance, and significantly higher level of confidence. Last, self-efficacy was found to be a significant partial mediator of the effect of instructional strategy on skill-development performance, and near and far transfer process-development performance. Overall, findings of this study suggest using the task-centered instructional strategy (Merrill, 2007b) for the purpose of teaching complex problem-solving skills with far-transfer needs and support the proposed theoretical model. Task-centered instructional strategy resulted in better performance while completing the module, which led to an increase in self-efficacy, which then led to better performance on the post-test. The superior performance on the post-test was also likely a result of cognitive considerations including advanced schemata construction in the task-centered condition. This theoretical model can be used to further investigate the cognitive and motivational factors that are in the heart of complex learning. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page: http://www.proquest.com/en-US/products/dissertations/individuals.shtml.]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site: http://www.proquest.com/en-US/products/dissertations/individuals.shtml
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A