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e-Learning and the Science of Instruction by Richard E. Mayer, Ruth C. Clark

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CHAPTER 11 Engagement in e-Learning

CHAPTER SUMMARY

Although it is at the heart of all learning, engagement may not be as straightforward as it seems. We distinguish two forms of engagement: psychological and behavioral. Behavioral engagement refers to overt actions taken by a learner during a lesson intended to improve learning. Examples include hands-on activities in an interactive lesson that require learners to click on objects, drag-and-drop objects, or produce text. Some forms of behavioral engagement, such as generating a graphic organizer while reading a scientific passage, have been shown to depress learning compared to lower engagement assignments, such as studying an instructor- prepared graphic organizer while reading a scientific passage. Perhaps learners lack the knowledge to accurately generate an effective graphic organizer. In some situations, engaging in behavioral activities may add extraneous cognitive load that distracts learners’ limited mental resources from the learning goals.

Psychological engagement promotes learning that helps learners to achieve the instructional goal by engaging in relevant cognitive processing during learning—such as attending to the relevant material, mentally organizing it into a coherent structure, and integrating it with relevant prior knowledge. Psychological engagement can occur with or without behavioral engagement. In this chapter we review methods that promote relevant psychological engagement.

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