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ERIC Number: EJ1006016
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Jan
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 114
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9010
Learner-Controlled Practice Difficulty in the Training of a Complex Task: Cognitive and Motivational Mechanisms
Hughes, Michael G.; Day, Eric Anthony; Wang, Xiaoqian; Schuelke, Matthew J.; Arsenault, Matthew L.; Harkrider, Lauren N.; Cooper, Olivia D.
Journal of Applied Psychology, v98 n1 p80-98 Jan 2013
An inherent aspect of learner-controlled instructional environments is the ability of learners to affect the degree of difficulty faced during training. However, research has yet to examine how learner-controlled practice difficulty affects learning. Based on the notion of "desirable difficulties" (Bjork, 1994), this study examined the cognitive and motivational antecedents and outcomes of learner-controlled practice difficulty in relation to learning a complex task. Using a complex videogame involving both strong cognitive and psychomotor demands, 112 young adult males were given control over their practice difficulty, which was reflected in the complexity of the training task. Results show that general mental ability, prior experience, pre-training self-efficacy, and error encouragement were positively related to learner-controlled practice difficulty. In turn, practice difficulty was directly related to task knowledge and post-training performance, and it was related to adaptive performance through the mediating influences of task knowledge and post-training performance. In general, this study supports the notion that training difficulty operationalized in terms of task complexity is positively related to both knowledge and performance outcomes. Results are discussed with respect to the need for more research examining how task complexity and other forms of difficulty could be leveraged to advance learner-controlled instructional practices. (Contains 2 tables and 3 figures.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Oklahoma