Date of Award

Summer 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


STEM Education & Professional Studies

Committee Director

Ginger S. Watson

Committee Member

Helen Crompton

Committee Member

Mary Enderson


Learner control is thought to be valuable by some scholars who believe that it allows learners to adapt instructions to their needs while reducing cognitive load (Mayer & Moreno, 2003). Although learner control offers some advantages to the learner, the importance of an instructor cannot be denied. In instructor-controlled settings the instructor provides guidance to the learners. Direct instructional guidance provides information to the learner that explains the concepts and procedures that are to be learned along with the instructional strategy support that is compatible with human cognitive architecture (Kirschner, Sweller, & Clark, 2006). This study compared the effects of learner-controlled simulation to instructor-guided presentation of an instructional simulation. Outcome variables were achievement, cognitive load, time-on-task, instructional efficiency, perceptions of learner control, and attitude for future use.

Results of the study indicated no significant differences between the learner-controlled and instructor-guided treatments for achievement, cognitive load, or instructional efficiency. A significant difference was found between the treatments for time-on-task and the perception of learner control where participants in the learner-controlled group spent significantly less time completing the instruction and reported significantly higher learner-control than those in the instructor guidance with activity group.


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