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An fMRI study exploring cognitive processing during computer - based discovery learning

Conference Paper


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Abstract


  • Discovery-based learning designs incorporating active exploration are common within

    computer-based instructional simulations, supported by constructivist theories of learning focussing on active

    individual knowledge construction.

    On the other hand, researchers have highlighted empirical

    evidence showing that ‘pure’ discovery learning is of limited value and

    that combinations of explicit

    instruction and guided discovery learning are more effective. Little is known, however, about

    differences in the cognitive processing that occurs when a learner undertakes active discovery

    learning

    using a computer-based simulation

    compared to when they are guided through observation

    of simulation output.

    A better understanding of the cognitive processing occurring when learners

    interact with on-line materials in the context of specific learning designs is important both for

    networked learning researchers and for on-line teachers.

    This

    paper

    reports on a study in which the

    brain activations

    from two learning conditions using

    computer-based simulations were compared

    using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

    One condition allowed exploration through manipulation of simulation parameters, while the other

    allowed observation of simulation output from preset parameters.

    Drawing

    on

    constructivist theories

    of learning, it was hypothesised that the active exploration condition would lead to greater activation

    of

    brain areas associated with working memory organisation and long term memory formation. The

    study also set out to explore the

    broader

    feasibility of using fMRI to explore learners’ cognitive

    processing while undertaking holistic learning activities using

    on-line learning materials.

    Results of the study were somewhat equivocal about differences in

    brain

    activation

    with no consistent

    differences in activation between the two conditions

    able to be

    measured.

    Consistent with our related

    research which suggests that discovery learning strategies vary

    substantially

    across individuals,

    results of this study suggest that the cognitive processing during the two conditions varied across

    participants.

    Integrated analysis of the exploration processes, learning outcomes and measured brain

    activations of individuals shows promise in better understanding the relationship between learning

    strategy, interaction and cognition when using instructional simulations.

    Approaches like this that

    draw on an analysis of data on learning process and outcome along with an analysis of physiological

    measures (in this case blood flow as an indicator of brain activation) are expected to be at the leading

    edge of learning analytics

    research in coming years.

    The study also highlighted challenges associated

    with the use of fMRI to explore learners' cognition while undertaking learning activities allowing

    significant learner control and involving extensive computer-based interaction.

Authors


  •   Dalgarno, Barney (external author)
  •   Kennedy, Gregor (external author)
  •   Bennett, Sue

Publication Date


  • 2014

Citation


  • Dalgarno, B., Kennedy, G. & Bennett, S. (2014). An fMRI study exploring cognitive processing during computer - based discovery learning. In S. Bayne, C. Jones, M. De Laat, T. Ryberg & C. Sinclair (Eds.), Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Networked Learning 2014 (pp. 86-94). Edinburgh, United Kingdom: University of Edinburgh.

Ro Full-text Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2043&context=sspapers

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/sspapers/1044

Start Page


  • 86

End Page


  • 94

Place Of Publication


  • Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Abstract


  • Discovery-based learning designs incorporating active exploration are common within

    computer-based instructional simulations, supported by constructivist theories of learning focussing on active

    individual knowledge construction.

    On the other hand, researchers have highlighted empirical

    evidence showing that ‘pure’ discovery learning is of limited value and

    that combinations of explicit

    instruction and guided discovery learning are more effective. Little is known, however, about

    differences in the cognitive processing that occurs when a learner undertakes active discovery

    learning

    using a computer-based simulation

    compared to when they are guided through observation

    of simulation output.

    A better understanding of the cognitive processing occurring when learners

    interact with on-line materials in the context of specific learning designs is important both for

    networked learning researchers and for on-line teachers.

    This

    paper

    reports on a study in which the

    brain activations

    from two learning conditions using

    computer-based simulations were compared

    using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

    One condition allowed exploration through manipulation of simulation parameters, while the other

    allowed observation of simulation output from preset parameters.

    Drawing

    on

    constructivist theories

    of learning, it was hypothesised that the active exploration condition would lead to greater activation

    of

    brain areas associated with working memory organisation and long term memory formation. The

    study also set out to explore the

    broader

    feasibility of using fMRI to explore learners’ cognitive

    processing while undertaking holistic learning activities using

    on-line learning materials.

    Results of the study were somewhat equivocal about differences in

    brain

    activation

    with no consistent

    differences in activation between the two conditions

    able to be

    measured.

    Consistent with our related

    research which suggests that discovery learning strategies vary

    substantially

    across individuals,

    results of this study suggest that the cognitive processing during the two conditions varied across

    participants.

    Integrated analysis of the exploration processes, learning outcomes and measured brain

    activations of individuals shows promise in better understanding the relationship between learning

    strategy, interaction and cognition when using instructional simulations.

    Approaches like this that

    draw on an analysis of data on learning process and outcome along with an analysis of physiological

    measures (in this case blood flow as an indicator of brain activation) are expected to be at the leading

    edge of learning analytics

    research in coming years.

    The study also highlighted challenges associated

    with the use of fMRI to explore learners' cognition while undertaking learning activities allowing

    significant learner control and involving extensive computer-based interaction.

Authors


  •   Dalgarno, Barney (external author)
  •   Kennedy, Gregor (external author)
  •   Bennett, Sue

Publication Date


  • 2014

Citation


  • Dalgarno, B., Kennedy, G. & Bennett, S. (2014). An fMRI study exploring cognitive processing during computer - based discovery learning. In S. Bayne, C. Jones, M. De Laat, T. Ryberg & C. Sinclair (Eds.), Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Networked Learning 2014 (pp. 86-94). Edinburgh, United Kingdom: University of Edinburgh.

Ro Full-text Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2043&context=sspapers

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/sspapers/1044

Start Page


  • 86

End Page


  • 94

Place Of Publication


  • Edinburgh, United Kingdom