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Theses Doctoral

Development of Self-Regulated Learning Skills Within Open-Ended Computer-Based Learning Environments for Science

Jiang, Yang

Over the past decade, open-ended computer-based learning environments have been increasingly used to facilitate students’ learning of complex scientific topics. The non-linearity and open-endedness of these environments create learning opportunities for students, but can also impose challenges in terms of extraneous cognitive load and greater requirements for self-regulated learning (SRL). SRL is crucial for academic success in various educational settings. This dissertation explores how self-regulatory skills develop and the role of gender in the development of SRL skills in Virtual Performance Assessments (VPA), an immersive, open-ended virtual environment designed to assess middle school students’ science inquiry skills. Findings from three analyses combining educational data mining techniques with multilevel modeling indicated that students developed self-regulatory behaviors and strategies as they used VPA. For example, experience with VPA prepared students to adopt more efficient note-taking and note-reviewing strategies. Students who used VPA for the second time engaged in note-taking more frequently, noted a significantly higher quantity of unique information, used the control of variables strategy more frequently in note-taking, and reproduced more domain-specific declarative information in notes than students who used VPA for the first time, all of which have been found to be positively associated with science inquiry performance. Students also learned to exploit more available sources of information by applying learning strategies, in order to either solve inquiry problems, or to monitor and evaluate their solutions. Compared to the second-time users who focused primarily on answering the core inquiry question and selectively collected data, the first-time users’ behaviors showed the repetition and combination of exploratory actions such as talking with non-player characters and collecting data. In addition, consistent gender differences in SRL were observed in this study. Female students were more likely to take notes than male students; they took notes and reviewed notes more frequently and recorded a higher quantity of information in notes, especially information from the research kiosk. Females were also more likely to review notes or read research pages to assist them with the problem-solving and decision-making process than their male counterparts. Possibly due to the higher quantity of information recorded by female note-takers and their tendency to review notes over males, female students’ performance on science inquiry tasks improved across the course of using the two scenarios of VPA, whereas the male students’ science inquiry skills did not show improvement. Results from this dissertation study provide insights into the instructional design of personalized open-ended learning environments to facilitate self-regulated learning for both male and female students.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Cognitive Studies in Education
Thesis Advisors
Baker, Ryan S.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 26, 2018