Factors affecting Learning

Instructional Design is largely affected by how a user learns:

Meaningfulness effect Highly meaningful words are easier to learn and remember than less meaningful words. This is true whether meaningful is measured by
1) the number of associations the learner has for the word,
2) by frequency of the word
3) or by familiarity with the sequential order of letters,
4) or the tendency of the work to elicit clear images.
An implication is that retention will be improved to the extent the user can make meaning of the material.

Serial position effects Serial position effects result from the particular placement of an item within a list. Memory is better for items placed at beginning or end of list rather than in the middle. An exception to these serial positions is the distinctiveness effect - an item that is distinctively different from the others will be remembered better, regardless of serial position.

Practice effects Active practice or rehearsal improves retention, and distributed practice is usually more effective than massed practice. The advantage to distributed practice is especially noticeable for lists, fast presentation rates or unfamiliar stimulus material. The advantage to distributed practice apparently occurs because massed practice allows the learner to associate a word with only a single context, but distributed practice allows association with many different contexts.

Transfer effects Transfer effects are effects of prior learning on the leaning of new material. Positive transfer occurs when previous learning makes new learning easier. Negative transfer occurs when it makes the new learning more difficult. The more that two tasks have in common, the more likely that transfer effects occur.

Interference effects. Interference effects occur when memory or particular material is hurt by previous or subsequent learning. Interference effects occur when trying to remember material that has previously been learned. Interference effects are always negative.

Organization effects Organization effects occur when learners chunk or categorize the input. Free recall of lists is better when learners organize the items into categories rather than attempt to memorize the list in serial order.

Levels-of-Processing effects The more deeply a word is processed, the better it will be remembered. Semantic encoding of content is likely to lead to better memory. Elaborative encoding, improves memory by making sentences more meaningful.

State-Dependent effects State- or Context-dependent effects occur because learning takes place in within a specific context that must be accessible later, at least initially, within the same context. For example, lists are more easily remembered when the test situation more closely resembles the leaning situation, apparently due to contextual cues available to aid in information retrieval.

Mnemonic effects Mnemonics - strategies for elaborating on relatively meaningless input by associating the input with more meaningful images or semantic context. Four well-known mnemonic methods are the place method, the link method, the peg method and the keyword method.

Abstraction effects Abstraction is the tendency of learners to pay attention to and remember the gist of a passage rather than the specific words of a sentence. In general, to the extent that learners assume the goal is understanding rather than verbatim memory and the extent that the material can be analyzed into main ideas and supportive detail, learners will tend to concentrate on the main ideas and to retain these in semantic forms that are more abstract and generalized than the verbatim sentences included in the passage.

Levels effect This effect occurs when the learner perceives that some parts of the passage are more important than others. Parts that occupy higher levels in the organization of the passage will be learned better than parts occupying low levels.

Prior Knowledge effects Prior knowledge effects will occur to the extent that the learner can use existing knowledge to establish a context or construct a schema into which the new information can be assimilated.

Inference effects Inference effects occur when learners use schemas or other prior knowledge to make inferences about intended meanings that go beyond what is explicitly stated in the text. Three kinds of inferences are case grammar pre-suppositions, conceptual dependency inferences and logical deductions.

Student misconception effects. Prior knowledge can lead to misconceptions. Misconceptions may be difficult to correct due to fact that learner may not be aware that knowledge s a misconception. Misconception occurs when input is filtered through schemas that are oversimplified, distorted or incorrect.

Text Organization Effects Text organization refers to the effects that the degree and type of organization built into a passage have on the degree and type of information that learners encode and remember. Structural elements such as advanced organizers, previews, logical sequencing, outline formats, higlighting of main ideas and summaries assist learning in retaining information. These organization effects facilitate chunking, subsumption of material into schemas and related processes that enable encoding as an organized body of meaningful knowledge. In addition, text organization elements cue learners to which aspects of the material are most important.

Mathemagenic Effects
Mathemagenic effects, coined by Rothkopf (1970) , refer to various things that learners do to prepare and assist their own learning. These effects refer to the active information processing by learners. Mathemagenic activities include answering adjunct questions or taking notes and can enhance learning.

Educational Psychology A Realistic Approach: Good, T.E. and Brophy, J.E. Third edition. Longman Publishing, New York.1986.

Theories of Learning: Hilgard, E.R. and Bower, G.H. Fourth Ediction. Prentice-Hall, Inc. Englewood Cliffs, NJ 1975.

 Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org
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