Theses Doctoral

Impact of a Coping Model on Novice Learners’ Self-efficacy, Science Learning, and Transfer in a Simulation-based Environment

Choi, Ah Ram

Scientific expertise requires concerted effort and the ability to overcome obstacles, but little research has addressed how these behaviors are modeled for learners in the context of simulation-based science learning. Thus, this study aimed to design instruction using cognitive modeling to promote active engagement by novice learners to ensure they feel competent to tackle novel learning problems in science. Largely drawing on work on social cognitive theory, the current study suggests the importance of a coping model, having incorrect knowledge and inadequate skills and gradually improving to a level of expertise, as an instructional aid to promote student motivation and learning in a simulation-based science learning environment.
Two experimental studies were conducted with high school students in Korea who did not possess prior knowledge. Study 1 compared a Coping Model (CM) condition, where students observed a peer model who makes errors and demonstrates initial difficulties but overcomes them, to a Mastery Model (MM) condition, where students observed a peer model who presents an error-free process of interpreting information while manipulating the simulation. The CM students tended to have higher post-self-efficacy than the MM students. However, it did not change over time, nor did it differ by condition. The CM was as effective as MM for learning gains, and the CM had a more favorable impact on transfer than the MM. The CM’s negative emotions, which was intended to indicate task difficulties, may have given students an impression that the task was difficult, resulting in no increase in self-efficacy over time. Thus, Study 2 added one more condition – a coping model with affective states (CMA) – that expressed the model’s changes in emotions and motivations in addition to what the CM demonstrated, and compared its effects to the CM and MM. The CM’s emotional expressions as in Study 1 were all removed in Study 2. Findings demonstrated that self-efficacy of students increased in the CMA and CM conditions over time while self-efficacy of the MM students did not. Students in all conditions demonstrated equal learning gains, but the CMA was more effective for transfer outcomes than the MM, and the CM tended to be more effective for transfer than the MM.
It is promising that a model who demonstrates difficulty in understanding but gradual progress to reach full understanding, which is the initial learning process of any novice, has potential to improve self-efficacy and promote transfer. The study discusses limitations and future study directions and concludes with implications for instructional design.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Thesis Advisors
Black, John B.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
November 9, 2018