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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The use of hypermedia in cooperative learning groups composed of students with heterogeneous learning styles Collins, Steve

Abstract

This study compared two methods of using a computer with cooperative learning groups. Hypermedia (HyperCard) and word processing (Microsoft Works) were used on a Macintosh computer by primary aged students to compile information based on a video presentation. Measures of achievement, retention and participation were made. Additionally, an attempt was made to assess learning preferences and compare performance for each of these computer methods with consideration for learning preference. Four main questions were posed: • Does the computer used interactively and non-linearly, as in hypermedia, promote better assimilation of information than using the computer linearly, as in word processing? • Does the computer used interactively and non-linearly, as in hypermedia, promote better retention of information than using the computer linearly, as in word processing? • Does the use of hypermedia in cooperative learning with groups composed of members with heterogeneous learning preferences promote participation more than word processing activities? • Does interactive hypermedia better meet the learning needs of more students than word processing regardless of learning preferences? Data were collected from sixty three primary-aged students from four schools in the Vancouver Lower Mainland area. The same computer-based test was used on students as a pre-test, post-test and retention test. Teachers assessed participation by observing individual students for one minute at random intervals. Participation was reported as an average of the number of seconds out of sixty that students exhibited on-task behavior. A computer-based learning preferences assessment was devised to measure two broad categories of learning preferences based on Howard Gardner's Seven Intelligences. The same assessment was made directly by teachers and alternate classroom workers by dividing students into the two categories of learning preferences based on their observations. Teachers also reported observations of the activities pertaining to quality of interactions, teaching demands and predictions of future learning outcomes after long term use of each method. The major conclusions of this study were: • No significant differences in achievement or retention were found between the word processing and hypermedia groups. • The HyperCard groups participated more than the word processing groups as measured by teacher ratings during the activities and as reported in the post-study teacher comments. • More time for the activities is needed to yield clearer results. • The tools used to assess learning preferences were not statistically reliable. • Learning preferences for some students are likely fluid and changing and therefore difficult to assess. • Increased participation scores for HyperCard are due to more students participating as opposed to the same participating students getting higher scores. This suggests that HyperCard involves more students regardless of learning preference. Considering these conclusions, these hypotheses were suggested: • Students use their whole minds in learning which requires an integration of dominant learning strengths. Categorizing students into groups based on discrete learning attributes has little meaning and could be harmful as a teaching practise. • It is necessary to find tools that can address the needs of divergent learning styles simultaneously. Hypermedia may be such a tool but more research is required to support this conjecture. • HyperCard has more features and is more complicated to use. Therefore more training is required to adequately use HyperCard than is required to adequately use word processing. Equivalent levels of training are required to yield clearer results. Additionally a discussion of the changing definition of literacy due to the increasing accessibility of information due to technology, stressed the importance of developing multimedia skills for students and teachers. It was suggested that the combination of hypermedia with cooperative learning will enhance communication and learning. This, in, turn,will advance the new, technology-based literacy.

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