Wednesday, May 02, 2007

How do I get to Carnegie Hall?

A clever study from Arizona State University took several elements of instruction and eliminated them one by one from an e-learning programme on 'computer literacy', using 256 students. they wanted to see what instructional components really mattered in e-learning.

They removed:

1. Objectives

2. Information

3. Examples

4. Review

5. Practice

Removing any of the first four made little significant difference to the learning outcome and attitudes of the tested students. It would seem, therefore, that Gagne. Mager et al were on shaky ground in recommending objectives at the start of every programme. Similarly with other supplementary elements.

Practice is the essential component
Removing ‘practice’, however, had a significant lowing effect on learning and attitudes. This snappy piece confirms my suspicions about most courses suffering from cognitive overload through the additive effect of too many supposedly beneficial, instructional elements. This cacophony of elements can confuse rather than clarify content.

So how do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Practice, practice, practice.

The impact of instructional elements in computer-based instruction, Martin. Klein and Sullivan (British Journal of Educational Technology). Thanks to Nick Rushby for a glimpse at this research in its pre-published form.


Harold Jarche said...

It's said that when Fausto Coppi was asked what was his secret to winning the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia, his answer was, "Three things - ride, ride, ride".

Perfect practice makes perfect :-)

Clive Shepherd said...

While I'm in accord with the main point here, I have to question whether I missing something. If you don't receive at least some information and/or a model (example), how do you know what to practice? Even the musician who practiced so hard to get to Carnegie Hall had to be taught the basics at some point.

Donald Clark said...

Sorry, hte brec=vity of the post may confuse.

The results are relative not absolutes. So they ran with:

1. Full programme (info+objectives+examples+reviw+practice)

2. Programme without objectives

3. Programme without examples

4. Programme withour review

5. programme withour practice

In measuring hte results of the posttest, means and standrad deviations for each of the 6 trials were measured. The programme without practice had a mean of 14.98 whereas the other measn were between 17.17 and 17.61, a clar difference.

Waller Hart, Learning Architects said...

Another sporting story to support this comes from golf. I think it was Jack Nicklaus who was asked why he was so lucky on the golf course and he said "The more I practice the luckier I get."

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