A comparative study of two electronic textbook interface design metaphors relative to learner self-efficacy, attitudes, and learning orientation



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Texas Tech University


Society is in the midst of an information revolution powered by increasingly rapid advances in digital technologies that are augmented by virtual instantaneous global dissemination. Traditional modes of cognition and learning, that are bound to language more than visual form, are being redefined in a digital multimedia culture. Textbooks are an important component of most educational designs. With respect to electronic textbooks, fundamental issues remained to be resolved. These issues include identification of factors that motivate a learner to use (and learn from) a textbook in electronic form. Studies focusing on digital environments, such as Web-based and computer-based instruction, have demonstrated learner disorientation and an increased cognitive load placed on the learner. Similar demands are placed on learners interfacing with an electronic textbook, which can be delivered in both Web-mediated and computer-mediated forms. Textbooks are an important component of most educational designs. Although the use electronic textbooks as substitutes for traditional expository printed textbooks are still a relatively novel phenomenon, issues remain to be resolved. A major goal is the elucidation of factors that motivate the learner to both use and learn from a "textbook" in digital form.

This comparative study examined the significance of specific affect and conative constructs relative to learner performance in two design metaphors for electronic textbooks: Internet Browser and 3-D Book representation. Another focus of this study was to provide insight into electronic textbook designs that promote increased learner satisfaction. Learner orientation and self-efficacy beliefs have been selected as constructs that affect learner attitudes and performance, as well as learner preference in a variety of digitally mediated environments. This study also sought to extend the applicability of the Learning Orientation Model which has been developed to identify the influences of affective, conative, and social factors on learning, to an electronic textbook environment, as well as seek out a possible interaction between the Learning Orientation Model and the affect constructs measured in this study.

Significant effects were found for interface designs, learning orientation and gender with respect to attitude measures, self-efficacy beliefs, and post-treatment achievement. Learner attitudes based on positively-stated and negatively-stated items focused on feelings toward the electronic textbook as well as eliciting opinions on the functionality of the electronic textbook. In this study attitudes that expressed opinions regarding the functionality of the electronic textbook were significant. The Transforming-Performing (T-P) learning orientation group demonstrated a more favorable opinion for the applicability and utility of the Internet Browser interface design over the 3-D Book interface. Conversely, the Conforming-Resistant (C-R) group demonstrated preference for the 3-D Book interface design over the Internet Browser. The T-P group also indicated a more positive attitude toward the functionality of the Internet Browser interface for an electronic textbook.

The self-efficacy subscale reflecting the participant confidence for manipulating downloads and multimedia files in an electronic textbook indicated that gender was a significant factor. Significance vv as found between treatments, i.e., the Internet browser and 3-D Book interface designs with respect to post-treatment achievement, although no significant difference was observed with en-route task completion or performance. In this study, participants using the 3-D Book interface had a significantly higher proportion of correct responses than those using the Internet Browser interface design for the electronic textbook.