Instructional dimensions root

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Instructional dimensions being explored by PSLC projects

Existing PSLC experiments vary values along many instructional dimensions, so to simplify the exposition, the dimensions are grouped into 5 major classes and a 6th miscellaneous class. Each class of dimensions is listed below, with its dimensions beneath it. For each dimension, PSLC studies that compare values along that dimension are listed with it.

Peer collaboration. Problem solving, example studying and many other activities can be done alone, in pairs, or in pairs with various kinds of assistance, such as collaboration scripts. From the standpoint of an individual learner, having a partner offers more assistance than working alone, and having a partner plus other scaffolding offer even more assistance.

  • When solving problems, how much instruction on collaboration? (Hausmann & Chi 05; Rummel, Diziol, McLaren & Spada)
  • When solving problems, should collaborators have a tutor? (Walker, McLaren, Koedinger & Rummel)
  • When studying examples, does collaboration help elicit explanations of steps? (Hausmann & VanLehn 07; Craig, Chi & VanLehn 07)

Repetition. In many kinds of instruction, similar or even identical tasks occur in sequence, with other tasks intervening. The more similar the tasks and the closer they are together, the easier they are for the student to achieve successfully during training, so the higher their they are in the assistance ordering.

  • How close together should tasks be? (Pavlik; Presson & MacWhinney; Yoshima & MacWhinney; Levin, Frishkoff, De Jong & Pavlik)
  • When tasks are repeated, should time pressure be increased? (De Jong & Perfetti)
  • When tasks are adjacent in the sequence, how can this be used to expedite learning? (De Jong, de Keyser & Perfetti; Levin et al.)

Modality. Both the presentations and the responses from learners can written, spoken, diagramatic, gestural (e.g., menus), etc. Two modalities of presentation may in general be assistive than one. However, the assistance scale for this design issue needs exploration.

  • When practicing vocabulary, how should the stimulus be presented? (Tokowicz & Degani; Lui, prfetti, Dunlap, Zi & Mitchell; Liu, Massaro, dunlap, Wu, Chen, Chan & Perfetti)
  • When entering or justifying problem solving steps, are visually contiguous modalities better? (Aleven & Butcher)
  • When presenting problems, does adding a diagram help? (Davenport, Klahr & Koedinger)

Explicitness. Should the instruction present the knowledge to be learned explicitly (typically as text) or let the student infer it from multiple instance? Some of these dimensions do not (yet?) have a clear assistance ordering for their values.

  • When learning vocabulary words, should students consult definitions? (Juffs & Eskenazi)
  • When parts of a word have meaning, should that be taught explicitly? (Lui et al.)
  • When giving a hint during problem solving, how explicit should it be? (Ringenberg & VanLehn; Roll & Aleven; Aleven & Butcher)

Does the tutor or the student do it? (This dimension needs a better name) Should the tutor or the student do the steps in solving a problem? Should the tutor or the student explain the steps of a problem’s solution? In general, assistance is higher when the tutor does it than when the student does it.

  • Adding example-studying to coached problem. (McLaren, Koedinger & Yaron; Anthony, Yang & Koedinger; Renkl, Aleven & Salden)
  • During coached problem solving, who detects the errors? (Mitamura & Wiley; Forbes-Reily & Litman; McCormick)
  • During coached problem solving, who decides when to ask for a hint? (Roll, Aleven & McLaren)
  • When studying examples, who produces or helps produce the explanations of steps? (Hausmann & VanLehn 06; Craig & Chi 06; Nokes & VanLehn)
  • When studying a film, who identifies the culturally key events? (Ogan, Aleven & Jones)
  • When answering reflection questions on a problem after solving it, who produces or helps produce the answers? (Katz 06, Katz 07).
  • When taking notes on a text, who decides or constrains the notes’ content? (Bauer & Koedinger)

Miscellaneous. In addition, there are currently 9 studies exploring design dimensions from outside the categories listed above.