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Student attitudes toward learning, level of pre-knowledge and instruction type in a computer-simulation: effects on flow experiences and perceived learning outcomes
Umeå University, Faculty of Teacher Education, Mathematics, Technology and Science Education. (UMSER)
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2008 (English)In: Instructional science, ISSN 0020-4277, E-ISSN 1573-1952, Vol. 36, no 4, 269-287 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Attitudes toward learning (ATL) have been shown to influence students’ learning outcomes. However, there is a lack of knowledge about the ways in which the interaction between ATL, the learning situation, and the level of students’ prior knowledge influence affective reactions and conceptual change. In this study, a simulation of acid-base titrations was examined to assess the impact of instruction format, level of prior knowledge and students’ ATL on university-level students, with respect to flow experiences (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990) and perceived conceptual change. Results show that the use of guiding instructions was correlated with a perceived conceptual change and high levels of “Challenge,” “Enjoyment,” and “Concentration,” but low sense of control during the exercise. Students who used the open instructions scored highly on the “Control flow” component, but their perceived learning score was lower than that for the students who used the guiding instructions. In neither case did students’ ATL or their pre-test results contribute strongly to students’ flow experiences or their perceived learning in the two different learning situations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer , 2008. Vol. 36, no 4, 269-287 p.
Keyword [en]
Epistemological beliefs, Attitudes toward learning, Flow, Previous knowledge, Instruction format, Simulation
National Category
Other Chemistry Topics
Research subject
didactics of chemistry
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-10501DOI: 10.1007/s11251-007-9030-9OAI: diva2:150172
Available from: 2008-09-22 Created: 2008-09-22 Last updated: 2013-12-10Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Simulation in university chemistry education: cognitive and affective aspects
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Simulation in university chemistry education: cognitive and affective aspects
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis undertakes two main tasks; to explore, within the authentic educational context, variables that influence the quality and outcomes of the knowledge-constructing activity during the simulation exercise; and to find appropriate instruments and methods to measure these variables, processes and outcomes.

Closed-ended tasks that provided a high degree of structure, i.e., supported students’ regulation of learning during the simulation exercise, were more beneficial for perceived improvement of declarative knowledge and students’ motivation than open-ended tasks. Open-ended tasks did however lead to substantial shifts in students’ cognitive focus in subsequent laboratory exercises and improvement of students’ level of chemistry reasoning in interviews.

Student attitudes toward learning proved important in the first paper where significantly higher ability to apply chemistry knowledge in interviews could be found for students with relativistic attitudes compared to those with more dualistic perspectives on learning. In the subsequent papers, the effects of attitudes were not as clear, possibly due to too small differences in the learning situations that were compared.

Quality of the learning discourse during simulation was measured with three qualitatively different methods, focusing on partly different aspects. The different methods gave very similar results regarding the relative quality of the discourses. Thus, “quality” as such seems to be an underlying feature that permeates many aspects of the discourse and consequently could be targeted in different ways, e.g., focusing on quantitative as well as qualitative aspects. The analyses revealed several components of quality; co-operative activity, correctness and complexity of chemistry reasoning, discussion length and intensity, ability to realize cognitive conflict, and reference to theory while reasoning.

Doing the simulation exercise in a distributed learning setting (written e-communication), supported discussions with higher accuracy and complexity of chemistry reasoning and frequent references to theory while the face-to-face situation allowed for longer and more intense discussions and a higher degree of co-operative activity. Not very surprisingly, high-quality discussions were characterized by high scores in all these components. There were indications that relatively good pre-knowledge might be required to benefit fully from face-to-face discussions.

The validity of instruments and methods, used to measure flow experiences, attitudes (i.e., epistemological beliefs), knowledge accessibility (intuitive knowledge) and discourse quality are discussed thoroughly. Special interest has been devoted to whether qualitative data should be quantified or not, providing arguments in favor of quantitative methods for analyzing and reporting qualitative data.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Kemi, 2006. 200 p.
Simulation, knowledge accessibility, discourse quality, cognitive load, task design, affective experiences, learning, attitudes
National Category
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-799 (URN)91-7264-097-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2006-06-02, KB3A9, KBC-Huset, Umeå, 10:00
Available from: 2006-05-11 Created: 2006-05-11 Last updated: 2011-03-04Bibliographically approved

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Winberg, T. MikaelHedman, Leif
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