Journal of Educational Psychology

  • Achievement in large-scale national numeracy assessment: An ecological study of motivation and student, home, and school predictors. 20180305
    With the rise of large-scale academic assessment programs around the world, there is a need to better understand the factors predicting students’ achievement in these assessment exercises. This investigation into national numeracy assessment drew on ecological and transactional conceptualizing involving student, student/home, and school factors. Student factors comprised mathematics ability, gender, and year group. Student/home factors comprised mathematics tutoring, mathematics competition participation, computer support for mathematics, and practice mathematics tests. School factors included school-average mathematics ability, school-average practice mathematics tests and competition participation, and socioeducational status. These educational ecology factors were modeled as predictors of mathematics motivation. In turn, educational ecology factors and mathematics motivation were modeled as predictors of numeracy achievement. Data were drawn from N = 12,736 Australian elementary (Years 3 and 5) and secondary (Years 7 and 9) school students from 231 schools participating in a national numeracy assessment exercise. Multilevel structural equation modeling revealed that student and student/home factors (Level 1) and school factors (Level 2) explained significant variance in student- and school-level mathematics motivation. In turn, these factors explained significant variance in student- and school-level numeracy achievement. Findings hold implications for the nature, breadth, and depth of efforts aimed at improving mathematics motivation and numeracy achievement in large-scale assessment programs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Using early indicators of academic risk to predict academic skills and socioemotional functioning at age 10. 20171221
    Early indicators of academic risk were used to predict the academic skills, socioemotional functioning, and receipt of special education services at age 10 among children from low-income families who participated in the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project. Pairwise comparison of academic skills and socioemotional functioning among early academic risk indicator groups was used, and logistic regression modeling was used to predict receipt of special education services. Children who received early intervention or early childhood special education services or were suspected of having developmental delays before age 3 or at age 5 scored lower on academic skills and poorer on socioemotional functioning at age 10 than those without academic risk indicators. Children who had only biological risks before age 3 or at age 5 did not differ in academic skills or socioemotional functioning at age 10 compared to children without any academic risk indicators. Generally, children’s academic risk indicators identified later (at age 5) were stronger predictors of poor academic skills and socioemotional functioning at age 10 than were earlier academic risk indicators (before age 3). Only children who received early intervention services before age 3 or early childhood special education services at age 5 were more likely to receive special education services at age 10 than other groups. Early universal screening, monitoring, and continuous provision of appropriate services for children from low-income families and with academic risks are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)
  • The type of writing instruction and practice matters: The direct and indirect effects of writing instruction and student practice on reading achievement. 20180104
    Previous research has demonstrated that writing instruction can support reading achievement (Graham & Hebert, 2011); however much of this work involved carefully designed interventions. In this study, we evaluated a conceptual framework of the direct and indirect effects of typical writing instruction and student writing practice on reading achievement in first grade. Fall reading, vocabulary, and writing data were collected from 391 students, and classroom writing instruction and student writing practice were observed in 50 classrooms. The effects of writing instruction on spring reading achievement were evaluated using a 2-level, fixed effects structural equation model. In a multiple mediator model, the total indirect effect of composing writing instruction through student writing practice on spring reading achievement was positive and statistically significant (β = .17, p = .029), with a modest effect of composing writing instruction mediated by generative writing practice (β = .15, p = .024). The final model explained 86% and 59% of the variability in spring reading achievement at the student and classroom levels, respectively. These results suggest that generative writing practice mediates the relationship between composing instruction and spring reading achievement. The results also highlight some potentially positive effects of typical writing instruction and student writing practice after controlling for reading instruction and fall reading achievement. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Reading demands in secondary school: Does the linguistic complexity of textbooks increase with grade level and the academic orientation of the school track? 20171109
    An adequate level of linguistic complexity in learning materials is believed to be of crucial importance for learning. The implication for school textbooks is that reading complexity should differ systematically between grade levels and between higher and lower tracks in line with what can be called the systematic complexification assumption. However, research has yet to test this hypothesis with a real-world sample of textbooks. In the present study, we used automatic measures from computational linguistic research to analyze 2,928 texts from geography textbooks from four publishers in Germany in terms of their reading demands. We measured a wide range of lexical, syntactic, morphological, and cohesion-related features and developed text classification models for predicting the grade level (Grades 5 to 10) and school track (academic vs. vocational) of the texts using these features. We also tested ten linguistic features that are considered to be particularly important for a reader’s understanding. The results provided only partial support for systematic complexification. The text classification models showed accuracy rates that were clearly above chance but with considerable room for improvement. Furthermore, there were significant differences across grade levels and school tracks for some of the ten linguistic features. Finally, there were marked differences among publishers. The discussion outlines key components for a systematic research program on the causes and consequences of the lack of systematic complexification in reading materials. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Signaling text–picture relations in multimedia learning: The influence of prior knowledge. 20171221
    Multimedia integration signals highlight correspondences between text and pictures with the aim of supporting learning from multimedia. A recent meta-analysis revealed that only learners with low domain-specific prior knowledge benefit from multimedia integration signals. To more thoroughly investigate the influence of prior knowledge on the multimedia signaling effect in a more ecologically valid context, we conducted a quasi-experimental field study with 8th graders. They learned with a digital multimedia textbook in 1 of the 2 versions: (a) a basic version with signals that supported only the selection and organization of information from either text or pictures or (b) an extended version with additional multimedia integration signals to support the integration of information from text and pictures (e.g., color coding, deictic references). Results of a contrast analysis revealed that low-prior-knowledge learners learned better with the extended version compared with the basic version, whereas adding multimedia integration signals was detrimental for learning outcomes of high-prior-knowledge learners. This expertise reversal effect could only partially be explained by cognitive load measures, in that high-prior-knowledge learners had higher extraneous cognitive load in the condition with multimedia integration signals. The results suggest a need for a more individualized multimedia design that considers students’ prior knowledge. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Text information and spatial abilities in learning with different visualizations formats. 20171127
    This research examined whether the informational advantage of an animation over a static picture (and over no visualizations as a control condition) can be compensated by presenting the information in the text that constitutes this informational advantage. In addition, it was investigated whether learners’ spatial abilities acted as a compensator in learning with a static picture compared to an animation. Moreover, the underlying cognitive processes were explored by eye tracking measures. Two hundred and one university students were randomly assigned to one to six conditions resulting from a 2 × 3 between-subjects design with text information (with vs. without dynamic information) and visualization format (no visualization vs. static picture vs. animation) as independent variables and spatial abilities as continuous factor. For learning outcomes, results revealed that, other than expected, text information did not moderate learning with the different visualization formats. However, learners receiving visualizations significantly outperformed learners in the control conditions, and learners receiving animations significantly outperformed learners receiving static pictures in a transfer test. An analysis of the eye tracking data revealed that this beneficial effect of animations over static pictures was mediated by a pupillometry measure that is supposed to reflect effortful cognitive processing. Spatial abilities acted as a compensator in learning with the two visualization formats: The advantage of animations was particularly evident for learners with low spatial abilities, but not for learners with high spatial abilities. These results indicate that the informational advantage of animations over static pictures cannot easily be compensated through text information, but by learners’ spatial abilities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Self-explaining steps in problem-solving tasks to improve self-regulation in secondary education. 20170921
    The ability to learn in a self-regulated way is important for adolescents’ academic achievements. Monitoring one’s own learning is a prerequisite skill for successful self-regulated learning. However, accurate monitoring has been found to be difficult for adolescents, especially for learning problem-solving tasks such as can be found in math and biology. This study investigated whether a self-explaining strategy, which has been found effective for improving monitoring accuracy in learning from text, can improve monitoring and regulation-choice effectiveness, and problem-solving performance in secondary biology education. In 2 experiments, one half of the participants learned to solve biology problems by studying video-modeling examples, and the other one half learned by giving step-by-step self-explanations following the video-modeling examples (Experiment 1) or by following the posttest problem-solving tasks (Experiment 2). Results showed that in contrast to earlier studies, self-explaining did not improve monitoring and regulation-choice effectiveness. However, the quality of self-explanations was found to be related to monitoring accuracy and performance. Interestingly, the complexity of the problem-solving tasks affected monitoring and regulation-choice effectiveness, and problem-solving performance. These results are discussed in relation to the cognitive demands that monitoring and regulating learning to solve problems combined with self-explaining pose on learners. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)
  • When problem-solving followed by instruction is superior to the traditional tell-and-practice sequence. 20171221
    Instruction often starts with an explanation of a concept or principle before students are presented with problems to be solved. Recent research indicates that reversing this widely used tell-and-practice sequence (T&P) so that exploratory problem-solving precedes the instructional explanation (i.e., PS-I) might be more beneficial. We aimed to replicate this advantage, but we also hypothesized based on previous research that the effectiveness of PS-I would depend on how scaffolding prompts and specific ways of representing the problems are combined. In an in vivo experimental classroom study, 213 ninth graders were randomly allocated to either a T&P or 1 of 4 PS-I conditions (in a 2 × 2 design). In all PS-I conditions, exploratory problem-solving consisted of a comparing and contrasting cases activity. However, we varied whether the students processed grounded or idealized cases (containing or stripped off contextual detail, respectively) and whether the activity was scaffolded by an invention or a self-explanation prompt. We assessed transfer performance immediately after learning and 4 weeks later. The PS-I sequences were not generally more effective than the T&P sequence, the effectiveness was influenced by an interaction of scaffolding prompts and problem representation. Immediately after learning, T&P students were only outperformed by students who learned with grounded cases and self-explanation prompts, by students who learned with grounded cases and invention prompts, and by students who learned with idealized cases and invention prompts; only the latter retained this advantage 4 weeks after learning. We discuss potential reasons and emphasize that PS-I sequences demand careful design. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)

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