Comparative Study of Two Electronic Textbook Interface Design Metaphors Relative to Learner Self-Efficacy, Attitudes, and Learning Orientation

Dissertation by David Unfred, 2003

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Chapter V


This study has raised interesting possibilities for the researcher. Several of these follow.

  1. This study indicates that interface designs for electronic textbooks can positively or negatively affect learners as demonstrated in this study's T-P learning orientation and C-R learning orientation dichotomy. Learning orientation and the impact of the "book" metaphor described by this study point toward new opportunities to expand knowledge of how learners interact with electronic text environments such as an electronic textbook. For example, to what degree can a metaphor such as the "book" metaphor used in this study provide a structured learning environment need by the C-R group? Another question to be addressed is learner preference for a particular interface design. Given a choice between interface design metaphors, would a similar pattern of preference as expressed by the T-P and C-R groups hold?

  2. The novice nature of the population that was the focus of this study should not be considered a typical university level population. In that regard it would be interesting to see the study repeated with different groups; for example, more traditional university populations and non-traditional university populations. With respect to older non-traditional university populations, is age a factor that impacts learner preference and attitudes toward an electronic textbook? How are learning orientations distributed in older student populations? Do learning orientations interact with gender and electronic textbook interface designs? These are some of the directions that can advance the information gain by the current study.

  3. Gender preferences were suggested with regard to treatment designs. This variable was not initially part of the study's design. However, this area should be of interest and further investigation initiated, particularly with a gender bias being indicated with regard to preference for the two electronic textbook designs and regarding self-efficacy in downloading and manipulating multimedia in the electronic textbook environment.

  4. Better definition of the variables and subscales used in this study is in order. Specifically, the ETAM attitude measure instrument and the ETSES self-efficacy instrument would benefit from more items that provide a more complete representation of the electronic textbook tasks.

  5. The post-treatment achievement instrument was given after the participants had completed the ETAM survey. The elapsed time varied between 10 to 15 minutes between the end of the en-route task and the participant beginning of the post-treatment assessment instrument. It would be interesting to test achievement over a longer time frame. In particular this aspect of the study would benefit from a larger sample size and possibly a larger question pool. Increased sample size (population) would also increase overall reliability and statistical power (Gall, et al., 1996). Future studies would also benefit from repeated measures such as attitudes and self-efficacy before and after treatments to determine the extent, if any, electronic textbook interface designs have on these and other affective and conative constructs.

  6. The possibility that a "metaphor" such as a 3-D book can restrict learning space by creating a more structured environment is intriguing. A controlled approach to confirm this possibility is needed. Many possibilities for designs using the learning orientation construct as a diagnostic tool could then be pursued.

  7. How do cognitive styles and learning styles compare to learning orientations? Do these cognitive constructs overlap with the conative learning orientation construct? A comparative study within the context of the electronic textbook environment could provide further insights into relationships between affect, conation, and cognition. 8. Finally, the bottom-line for any instruction or instructional design is whether it is used by the stakeholder. In this study, emphasis was place on the importance of learner preference for a particular electronic textbook interface design. However, the learner was not given the opportunity to make his or her preference known prior to the study. Other variables that pertain to stakeholder preference may be considered in an expanded study.

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Updated March 2003
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