The effects of conceptual tempo and computer-assisted instructional environment on college students' self-regulated learning and academic achievement



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Texas Tech University


There has been an effort toward restructuring schools, where students are encouraged to develop their abilities to use their own various cognitive strategies to solve problems and help themselves to become more effective learners. A group of cognitive psychologists identifies effective learners as self-regulated learners who are metacognitively, motivationally, and behaviorally active. Compared to the effective self-regulated learners, learners with impulsive conceptual tempo style interested the researcher as an indicator of ineffective and inefficient learners in the process of becoming self-regulated learners. Previous research studies showed that learners with an impulsive conceptual tempo style tended to be ineffective in systematically approaching academic tasks when compared to learners with a reflective conceptual tempo style. This study was concerned with how to prepare computerized learning environments to help the ineffective learners become effective self-regulated learners.

This study investigated the effects of two different Computer-Assisted Instructional (CAI) environments and the effects of self-awareness of conceptual tempo styles on college students' self-regulated learning (SRL) skills and their academic achievement scores. Two different CAI environments were compared in this study: INtelligently Controlled CAI (INC CAI), and TOtally Learner-Controlled CAI (TOLC CAI). ESTC CAI adopted the cognitive apprenticeship teaching method using coaching features, and TOLC CAI did not. Students' conceptual tempo styles were measured by a computerized version of the Matching Familiar Figures Test (MFFT) to categorize them as either impulsive or reflective persons.

Students' SRL skills were measured by Zimmerman's SRL model: a metacognitive change (self-monitoring levels), a motivational change (self-efficacy levels), and a behavioral change (self-learning activity levels). Academic achievement scores were also measured.

MANOVA tests revealed that INC CAI was significantiy more effective on college students' SRL skills than TOLC CAL. There were no significant effects on students' SRL skills and academic achievement scores due to their self-awareness of conceptual tempo styles. Students in INC CAI showed significantly higher persistency levels than students in TOLC CAI. This study proves that the cognitive apprenticeship teaching method using coaching features in a CAI environment is significantly more effective on college students' development of SRL skills than traditional CAI environments.

This study suggests that educators and instructional designers should invest their efforts in developing and utilizing CAI that serves as an intelligent partner to human cognition and that helps students to become self-regulated learners.