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Title:Effects of Examples as Context on Learning New Information From Expository Materials
Author(s):Britti, Nirmala G.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Educational Psychology
Abstract:Two studies are reported dealing with the effects of context on reading comprehension and information gain of fifth graders using expository materials. In Experiment 1, the simple physical science principle of pulleys was presented in three different forms. For the subjects in the no-context condition, the principle was explained with no example. In the other two conditions, the passage described pulleys as a component part of construction cranes and fence tighteners. Since most of the subjects knew about construction cranes, but did not know about fence tighteners, the former was named the familiar example context condition and the latter became the unfamiliar example context condition. Subjects' existing knowledge of the principle of pulleys was tested three weeks prior to the presentation of the passage.
Results of Experiment 1 indicated that subjects in the no-context condition performed significantly better on a free recall measure and on a ten item short answer test than subjects in the familiar example and unfamiliar example context conditions. They also gained significantly more information about pulleys. It was found that subjects with less prior knowledge of pulleys gained significantly more information about pulleys than subjects with more prior knowledge of pulleys but only for questions testing literal comprehension. With inference questions, subjects with high prior knowledge of pulleys performed better than those with low prior knowledge.
In Experiment 2, three versions of passages dealing with pulleys and gears were constructed, namely, a no-context version, a familiar example context version and a fictitious example context version. In the familiar example context condition, the principle of pulleys and gears were presented as a part of construction cranes and bicycles respectively. In the fictitious example context condition, the same principles were explained as parts of strange tools used by Martians. Certain perceptual changes were included to eliminate possible extraneous factors contributing to the results of Experiment 1.
Results of Experiment 2 complemented those of Experiment 1. For all measures, the mean of the no-context condition was higher than that for the other two conditions, and it was significantly so for the free recall measure.
In conclusion, it would seem that fifth graders can learn more information about a novel scientific concept when it is presented directly without the contextual support of an example. Possibly what happens in the contextual conditions is that the young learner has a difficult time extracting the new and relevant information from an example.
Issue Date:1981
Description:136 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8127552
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-12
Date Deposited:1981

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