To Highlight or Summarize? The Benefits of Constructive Learning in Geology.
Chi and Wylie's (2014) ICAP framework identifies four modes of cognitive engagement in learning – passive, active, constructive, and interactive, defined by the overt learning activities that learners participate in and the product of the activities. As engagement increases, a deeper understanding of the information is achieved. Unfortunately, students often do not often participate in learning activities that promote higher engagement. To assess the effectiveness of active versus constructive engagement, the present study was conducted with undergraduate students enrolled in an introductory geology course. Seventy-one students were assigned to either an active (highlighting) or constructive (summarizing) condition to learn about the carbon cycle which was presented as six individual paragraphs. Students in the highlighting condition (n = 36) were prompted to highlight key words while students in the summarizing condition (n = 35) had to provide a summary of each paragraph after reading. All students completed an immediate posttest that consisted of 11 multiple-choice retention questions and 3 open-ended transfer questions. One week later, students completed a delayed posttest of 8 multiple-choice retention questions and 3 open-ended transfer questions. A one-way ANOVA was conducted with condition as the independent variable, and the respective learning outcomes as the dependent variables. Results from the analysis indicated that the summarizing condition outperformed the highlighting condition on immediate retention (d = 0.52) and delayed transfer (d = 0.54). The findings from this study provide empirical support for the ICAP framework, indicating that a constructive mode of engagement is more beneficial than an active mode of engagement. Furthermore, this study was conducted in an ecologically valid learning environment, making the findings even more impactful for educators and students who are interested in strategies to improve learning. Specific implications for the Geoscience Education community will also be discussed.
To Highlight or Summarize? The Benefits of Constructive Learning in Geology Poster (Acrobat (PDF) 287kB Jul2 20)
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