UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The invention support environment : using metacognitive scaffolding and interactive learning environments to improve learning from invention Holmes, Natasha Grace


Invention activities are discovery-learning activities that ask students to invent a solution to a problem before being taught the expert solution. The combination of invention activities and tell-and-practice methods has been shown to lead to better student learning and performance on transfer tasks, as compared to tell-and-practice methods alone. A computer-based interactive learning environment, called the Invention Support Environment (ISE), was built using Cognitive Tutor Authoring Tools to improve the in-class use of invention activities, and act as a research tool for studying the effects of the activities. The system was designed to support three levels of metacognitive scaffolding, using domain-general prompts. It also features a platform for creating new invention tasks within the system, requiring little to no programming experience. The ISE was used to evaluate how domain-general scaffolding of invention activities can best support acquisition of domain knowledge and scientific reasoning skills. Five invention activities in statistics and data-analysis domains were given to 134 undergraduate students in a physics lab course at the University of British Columbia. Students either received guidance in the form of faded metacognitive scaffolding or unguided inventions. It was found that faded metacognitive scaffolding did not improve learning of invention skills compared to unguided inventions. Faded metacognitive scaffolding was found to improve understanding of domain equations, as seen through higher performance on debugging items in a statistics diagnostic. Future experimental design and ISE improvements are discussed.

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