Journal of Educational Psychology

  • Acquiring science and social studies knowledge in kindergarten through fourth grade: Conceptualization, design, implementation, and efficacy testing of content-area literacy instruction (CALI).
    With national focus on reading and math achievement, science and social studies have received less instructional time. Yet, accumulating evidence suggests that content knowledge is an important predictor of proficient reading. Starting with a design study, we developed content-area literacy instruction (CALI) as an individualized (or personalized) instructional program for kindergarteners through 4th graders to build science and social studies knowledge. We developed CALI to be implemented in general education classrooms, over multiple iterations (n = 230 students), using principles of design-based implementation research. The aims were to develop CALI as a usable and feasible instructional program that would, potentially, improve science and social studies knowledge, and could be implemented during the literacy block without negatively affecting students’ reading gains (i.e., no opportunity cost). We then evaluated the efficacy of CALI in a randomized controlled field trial with 418 students in kindergarten through 4th grade. Results reveal that CALI demonstrates promise as a usable and feasible instructional individualized general education program, and is efficacious in improving social studies (d = 2.2) and science (d = 2.1) knowledge, with some evidence of improving oral and reading comprehension skills (d = .125). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
  • “Explaining pictures: How verbal cues influence processing of pictorial learning material”: Correction to Glaser and Schwan (2015).
    Reports an error in “Explaining pictures: How verbal cues influence processing of pictorial learning material” by Manuela Glaser and Stephan Schwan (Journal of Educational Psychology, 2015[Nov], Vol 107[4], 1006-1018). In the article, there were several errors in the Results section. All of the η² values should have been ηP² values. (The following abstract of the original article appeared in record 2015-20584-001.) While to date, multimedia research has examined mainly the learning of texts with accompanying pictures, in the current paper, 2 experiments are presented that examine the multimedia effect for pictures with accompanying spoken text. In Experiment 1, we examined whether learning is better with a multimedia presentation in which pictorial information is verbally referenced than without such referencing. Further, it was examined whether pictorial information within a single presentation is better learned when it is verbally referenced than not referenced. The results show that the pictures with accompanying audio text in which the single elements of the picture were named were better learned (free recall, multiple choice, visual recognition) than the pictures with the elements not having been named in the audio text. Furthermore, within a single presentation, named elements were better learned than unnamed elements. Further, Experiment 2 examined by eye-tracking whether the multimedia effect is due to a shift of attention toward the elements presented multimodally and away from those presented unimodally. The multimedia effect could be replicated and the postulated shift of attention as an underlying process of the multimedia effect could also be confirmed. There were longer fixation times for the named and shorter fixations times for the unnamed elements of the picture in the verbal referencing part compared to the nonverbal referencing parts of the audio text. Finally, gaze synchrony of the learners was higher for time points of naming pictorial elements than for time points of no naming. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
  • The effects of explicit teaching of strategies, second-order concepts, and epistemological underpinnings on students’ ability to reason causally in history.
    This article reports an experimental study on the effects of explicit teaching on 11th grade students’ ability to reason causally in history. Underpinned by the model of domain learning, explicit teaching is conceptualized as multidimensional, focusing on strategies and second-order concepts to generate and verbalize causal explanations and epistemological underpinnings connected to causal reasoning in history. In a randomized pretest–posttest design (N = 95), with a treatment and a control condition, effects of explicit teaching were investigated on students’ (a) second-order and strategy knowledge, (b) their epistemological beliefs, and (c) their ability to construct a causal explanation, as well as (d) their topic knowledge, and (e) their individual interest. Results show that students in the experimental group scored significantly higher at the posttest on knowledge of causal-reasoning strategies and second-order concepts (sr² = .09), attributed a significantly higher value to criterialist epistemological beliefs (sr² = .04), and reported a higher individual interest (sr² = .02). We found no differences between conditions in the overall quality of students’ written explanations. However, the experimental group scored significantly higher on 1 core criterion, that is, the “use of second-order language and causal connections” (sr² = .06). No differences were found on first-order knowledge. Furthermore, self-reports on learning gains and correlational analysis were applied to explore the interrelatedness of second-order and strategy knowledge, epistemological beliefs, student’s ability to construct a causal explanation, topic knowledge, and individual interest. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Process mediates structure: The relation between preschool teacher education and preschool teachers’ knowledge.
    Data about processes and outcomes of preschool teacher education is scarce. This paper examines the opportunities to learn (OTL) of prospective preschool teachers (N = 1,851) at different types and stages of preschool teacher education and their relation to general pedagogical knowledge (GPK), mathematics pedagogical content knowledge (MPCK), and mathematical content knowledge (MCK) with standardized tests. Process indicators in terms of OTL and outcome indicators in terms of knowledge varied substantially across teacher education types and stages. Controlling for preschool teachers’ background, multilevel models revealed that OTL in general pedagogy and mathematics pedagogy provided during teacher education were significantly related to GPK and MPCK. Effect sizes reached up to 2 thirds of a standard deviation. OTL in mathematics pedagogy were in turn significantly related to the type of institution that offered a program in favor of pedagogical colleges compared with vocational schools. OTL were also significantly related to program stage in favor of the last year of preschool teacher education compared with the beginning. Process characteristics in terms of OTL mediated fully or partly structural characteristics of teacher education such as type of institution or program stage. These results suggest that the OTL provided are more important than whether prospective preschool teachers were at the beginning or the end of their program or whether they were prepared at vocational schools or pedagogical colleges (although entrance differences have still be taken into account). It may be an important responsibility of policymakers then to ensure that all prospective preschool teachers receive sufficient OTL. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Supporting students in making sense of connections and in becoming perceptually fluent in making connections among multiple graphical representations.
    Prior research shows that multiple representations can enhance learning, provided that students make connections among them. We hypothesized that support for connection making is most effective in enhancing learning of domain knowledge if it helps students both in making sense of these connections and in becoming perceptually fluent in making connections. We tested this hypothesis in an experiment with 428 4th- and 5th-grade students who worked with different versions of an intelligent tutoring system for fractions learning. Results did not show main effects for sense-making or fluency-building support but an interaction effect, such that a combination of sense-making and fluency-building support is most effective in enhancing fractions knowledge. Causal path analysis of log data from the system shows that sense-making support enhances students’ benefit from fluency-building support, but fluency-building support does not enhance their benefit from sense-making support. Our results suggest that both understanding of connections and perceptual fluency in connection making are critical aspects of learning of domain knowledge with multiple graphical representations. Findings from the causal path analysis lead to the testable prediction that instruction should provide sense-making support and fluency-building support for connection making. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Conceptual knowledge of decimal arithmetic.
    In 2 studies (Ns = 55 and 54), the authors examined a basic form of conceptual understanding of rational number arithmetic, the direction of effect of decimal arithmetic operations, at a level of detail useful for informing instruction. Middle school students were presented tasks examining knowledge of the direction of effects (e.g., “True or false: 0.77 ∗ 0.63 > 0.77”), knowledge of decimal magnitudes, and knowledge of decimal arithmetic procedures. Their confidence in their direction of effect judgments was also assessed. The authors found (a) most students incorrectly predicted the direction of effect of multiplication and division with decimals below 1; (b) this pattern held for students who accurately compared the magnitudes of individual decimals and correctly executed decimal arithmetic operations; (c) explanations of direction of effect judgments that cited both the arithmetic operation and the numbers’ magnitudes were strongly associated with accurate judgments; and (d) judgments were more accurate when multiplication problems involved a whole number and a decimal below 1 than with 2 decimals below 1. Implications of the findings for instruction are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Making connections: Replicating and extending the utility value intervention in the classroom.
    We replicated and extended prior research investigating a theoretically guided intervention based on expectancy-value theory designed to enhance student learning outcomes (e.g., Hulleman & Harackiewicz, 2009). First, we replicated prior work by demonstrating that the utility value intervention, which manipulated whether students made connections between the course material and their lives, increased both interest and performance of low-performing students in a college general education course. Second, we extended prior research by both measuring and manipulating one possible pathway of intervention effects: the frequency with which students make connections between the material and their lives. In Study 1, we measured connection frequency and found that making more connections was positively related to expecting to do well in the course, valuing the course material, and continuing interest. In Study 2, we manipulated connection frequency by developing an enhanced utility value intervention designed to increase the frequency with which students made connections. The results indicated that students randomly assigned to either utility value intervention, compared with the control condition, subsequently became more confident that they could learn the material, which led to increased course performance. The utility value interventions were particularly effective for the lowest-performing students. Compared with those in the control condition who showed a steady decline in performance across the semester, low-performing male students randomly assigned to the utility value conditions increased their performance across the semester. The difference between the utility value and control conditions for low-performing male students was strongest on the final exam (d = .76). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
  • New evidence on self-affirmation effects and theorized sources of heterogeneity from large-scale replications.
    Brief, targeted self-affirmation writing exercises have recently been offered as a way to reduce racial achievement gaps, but evidence about their effects in educational settings is mixed, leaving ambiguity about the likely benefits of these strategies if implemented broadly. A key limitation in interpreting these mixed results is that they come from studies conducted by different research teams with different procedures in different settings; it is therefore impossible to isolate whether different effects are the result of theorized heterogeneity, unidentified moderators, or idiosyncratic features of the different studies. We addressed this limitation by conducting a well-powered replication of self-affirmation in a setting where a previous large-scale field experiment demonstrated significant positive impacts, using the same procedures. We found no evidence of effects in this replication study and estimates were precise enough to reject benefits larger than an effect size of 0.10. These null effects were significantly different from persistent benefits in the prior study in the same setting, and extensive testing revealed that currently theorized moderators of self-affirmation effects could not explain the difference. These results highlight the potential fragility of self-affirmation in educational settings when implemented widely and the need for new theory, measures, and evidence about the necessary conditions for self-affirmation success. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

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