Computers and Education vol:57 issue:4 pages:2322-2332
This study examined the role of learners’ perceptions in a learner-controlled computer-based learning environment. Computer-based learning environments that offer learner control (LC) to the learners are assumed to enhance motivation and learning outcomes. Recently, the focus of LC research has shifted from measuring the direct effect of LC on learning towards focusing on the underlying mechanisms of
effective LC and determining under which conditions LC is most effective (Corbalan, Kester, & van Merriënboer, 2009). There is considerable agreement that learners’ skills, perceptions and the experienced cognitive load interactively affect LC as instructional strategy. For this study, 165 first-year university students participated in an on-line English learning course on verb conjugation. We investigated the effect of learners’ perceptions of LC by comparing the learning outcomes and motivation of learners that received additional instructions on learner control with a group of learners that did not receive additional instruction. Learner characteristics, such as prior knowledge, working memory capacity, self-efficacy and cognitive load, were taken into account. The results indicate that it is not instruction as such, but rather satisfaction with the degree of control that affects learning outcomes and motivation. We suggest that instruction as such does not suffice to enhance perception of control, and that learners’ perceptions play a mere role in the effectiveness of instructional strategies such as learner control.