Gräsel, Cornelia and Fischer, Frank and Mandl, Heinz
The use of additional information in problem-oriented learning environments.
In: Learning Environment Research, Vol. 3, No. 3: pp. 287-305
Self-directed learning with authentic and complex problems (problem-oriented learning) requires that learners observe their own learning and use additional information when it is appropriate – e.g. hypertextual information in computer-supported learning environments. Research results indicate that learners in problem-oriented learning environments often have difficulties using additional information adequately, and that they should be supported. Two studies with a computer-supported problem-oriented learning environment in the domain of medicine analyzed the effects of strategy instruction on the use of additional information and the quality of the problem representation. In study 1, an expert model was used for strategy instruction. Two groups were compared: one group with strategy modeling and one group without. Strategy modeling influenced the frequency of looked-up hypertextual information, but did not influence the quality of learners' problem representations. This could be explained by difficulties in applying the general hypertext information to the problem. In study 2, the additional information was presented in a more contextualized way as graphical representation of the case and its relevant concepts. Again, two groups were compared: one with a strategy instruction text and one without. Strategy instruction texts supported an adequate use of this graphical information by learners and had an effect on the quality of their problem representations. These findings are discussed with respect to the design of additional help systems in problem-oriented learning environments.