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Learning theories applied to teaching technology: Constructivism versus behavioral theory for instructing multimedia software programs

Abstract:

This study sought to find evidence for a beneficial learning theory to teach computer software programs. Additionally, software was analyzed for each learning theory's applicability to resolve whether certain software requires a specific method of education. The results are meant to give educators more effective teaching tools, so students ultimately get the most out of any particular software program. The study's value comes from additional significant information added to the established constructivist and instructivist debate, which is important to psychologists and educators.

The design of the study was a randomized quantitative experiment with an analysis of covariance design employing four groups, gathered using convenience sampling, in a pretest, posttest model to analyze multiple independent variables. Further design parameters included a 2 X 2 Factorial Design.05 significance, large post hoc Cohen effect size for learning theory, and 89% power. The sample was 167 students enrolled in Digital Image Manipulation, Digital Layout, Digital Illustration, or Digital Typography classes during two quarters of 2012. The participants were analyzed in their normal classroom environment using an online test/lesson/test exercise. The instrument was Photoshop CS5 and InDesign CS5 uCertify Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) exam preparation guides.

Research Question 1 stated: Is constructivist or behavioral learning theory more beneficial when teaching multimedia software? A significant finding for Research Question 1 indicates a difference between the learning theories behaviorism and constructivism. The behaviorist group scored higher than the constructivist group. Research Question 2 stated: Is there a difference in the effectiveness of learning between Photoshop and InDesign when teaching multimedia software? There was no significant finding for Research Question 2; therefore, no difference was found between Photoshop and InDesign.

Research Question 3 stated: Are there interactions between learning theory and software with regards to teaching multimedia software? No interaction was found between learning theory and software. According to the current study, teachers who instruct their courses through a problem-based constructivist method should consider a behaviorist approach. A behavioral learning curriculum is especially important if the class is instructing Adobe software.

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