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Title:Effect of Assertion Headings and Expandable Examples in Online Engineering Textbooks on Student Performance and Satisfaction
Author(s):Faulkner, Brian E.
Expertise reversal
Worked examples
Engineering textbooks
Online textbooks
Global coherence
Abstract:Many engineering courses are transitioning from traditional paper textbooks to online and multimedia instructional modules to present content to students outside of class time. As the use of such resources expands, research about their effective use and production should grow in tandem. Little research has focused on how textbook designs affect students’ learning in natural study conditions. Students prefer to use textbooks alongside homework or practice exams while studying, but many laboratory studies artificially prevent students from using textbooks while answering questions. Investigations have studied the effects of textbook design on test performance but have not looked at students’ motivation to read the textbook, their perception of the textbook’s usefulness, or their satisfaction with the textbook in helping them learn material. In this report, we study the effect of expandable worked examples and assertive headings in online instructional texts on students’ learning and affective responses. In addition, we explore whether hand-drawn figures have any effect on student satisfaction and self-efficacy. Students consistently find worked examples to be useful, but their effectiveness may be limited by an expertise reversal effect, helping novice students but hindering advanced students. Interactive, expandable worked examples can expand to show, and contract to hide, as much detail as students see fit to support their learning. Section headings provide one means for improving students’ ability to extract meaning from textbooks. While most textbooks use noun phrases that indicate the topic or subtopic of the following text, there is evidence that using complete sentence headings that summarize the text in that section (assertion headings) could improve student comprehension. Student feedback in the preliminary phases of our study compelled us to explore whether hand-drawn figures have any effect on student course satisfaction and self-efficacy. We studied textbook features in an introductory electrical engineering course by assigning students to three different versions of an online textbook. A control group received traditional static worked examples and topic-subtopic headings; one treatment group had expandable worked examples and assertion headings; and the final treatment group had only the expandable worked examples. Although measures of students’ performance in the class showed few significant changes, measures of their attitudes toward the course showed that satisfaction with the materials had improved.
Issue Date:2015-05
Publisher:Coordinated Science Laboratory. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Series/Report:Coordinated Science Laboratory Report no. UILU-ENG-15-2205
Genre:Technical Report
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-09-06

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