|Conradty, C; Bogner, FX: Computer vs. Textbook: Effects on Motivation and Gain in Knowledge, Electronic Journal of e-Learning(in press) (2013)|
Compared to textbooks computers are considered as an innovative “new medium” in the classroom. It raises high expectations with regards to increased motivation or cognitive learning effects (Schaal 2006). The new medium may inspire students but it may simultaneously reduce cognitive learning achievements, for instance because of substantial cognitive overload (Sweller, Merrienboer, Paas 1998; Mayer 2001). Combined with a perhaps even gender-related low self efficacy or self competence or an underestimation of the subject matter (Salomon 1984) computers may be counterproductive in lessons.. However, a lack of updated studies exists about the interest of young students in computer-aided learning (Rattanapian, Gibbs 1995; Teh, Fraser 1995). Furthermore, according to Passing & Levin (2000) girls are not motivated by computers. Our empirical study monitored efficacy in knowledge gain and motivation of computer-aided and textbook-based educational units in a Biology lesson. Our subjects were altogether 393 8th graders. A main objective focused on gender effects of an autonomous teacher assisted learning via interactive software and a comparison group attending an equivalent lesson with an appropriate textbook. Both lessons were completed with a short recapitulation by the teacher. A third group closed the computer-aided lesson with a repetitive quiz with feed-back at the computer instead of the teacher-centred consolidation phase. We focused on the effects of computer-aided and textbook-guided learning as well as of the teacher assistance on gender, cognitive achievements levels and intrinsic motivation. We used a quasi-experimental BACI design with pre-, post- and retention-test. Empirical data of intrinsic motivation were collected with the Intrinsic Motivation Inventory (IMI: Deci, Schwartz, Sheinman, Ryan 1981) just as well the students’ experience with computer by questionnaires immediately after the lesson. We recorded significantly higher post-test scores in textbook-based lesson compared with a computer-aided one. The difference, however, faded away in the retention-test. In general, girls gained higher scores than boys, especially with textbook-aided learning. The latter came along with girls reporting of less perceived tension (IMI T) in textbook-based lesson. The teacher-centred consolidation phase had no effect on the post-test results, but increased the long-term knowledge just as well as the students’ interest in the subject (IMI I). Girls reported a higher perceived competence (IMI C) than boys in computer-aided lesson without teacher-centred consolidation phase. In general the girls’ intrinsic motivation was affected by our intervention but not the boys’.