Tag Archives: Effectiveness

Effectiveness: Self-regulation

Top-level category Effectiveness: Self-regulation
App Name RwR (Reflection while Reading)
App Maker Margit Gade of Denmark
Screenshot *
General Description This reading comprehension app provides a 5-step metacognitive heuristic for supporting/prompting student reflection while comprehending text. The 5-step heuristic begins with a declarative step (“Read a small passage”), followed by 4 questions that prompt the student to reflect in various ways on what they have just read:
1. Read a small passage
2. What did I learn?
3. Are there new words to be caught?
4. Are there any links … to what I read before? … to what I know?
5. Does anything need clarification? or Can I move on?
The purpose of the app is to provide a framework for readers to use when making sense of a passage they are learning from.
Screenshot context This screenshot shows the 2nd step in the metacognitive heuristic, which is “What did I learn?” This question prompts the reader to recapitulate what they have just learned after reading a small passage … by summarizing, synthesizing, outlining, or some other process of recollection. The page is static (i.e., no part of the image moves) and soundless (i.e., there is no audio track). The reader moves from this screen to the 3rd step in the heuristic (“ Are there new words to be caught?”) after s/he decides that they have responded sufficiently to the question.
Explanation and/or commentary This app presents a high-level heuristic for learning from/comprehending a text: the user is encouraged to ask four questions that are intended to deepen thoughtful understanding at several levels (summarization, vocabulary development, connections to prior knowledge of world and texts, clarification and comprehension monitoring). The reader can view the 5-step heuristic on one screen, or move through the steps in sequence, one at a time. No animation or audio is integral to the app. In several respects, the heuristic provides a scaffold that loosely echoes that of Reciprocal Teaching (Palincsar & Brown, 1984).

Effectiveness: Memory processes, multiple sensory channels

Title  Effectiveness: memory processes, multiple sensory channels
App Name Grimm’s Rapunzel
App Maker Story Toys Inc.
Screenshot *
General Description Grimm’s Rapunzel is an interactive pop-up story book. It is designed for children of all ages and is meant to entertain and engage readers. The interactive pop-up features, which appear at regular intervals through the e-book, may reinforce children’s understanding of the story because they permit readers to act out selected events.
Screenshot context This particular pop up feature appears after children have read this text: “The man’s wife was taken with the beautiful flowers growing in the garden. She wished for them so much that one day, her husband ventured into the garden to fetch some for her. He would have to be careful though, because the garden belonged to an evil witch. Who knows what might happen if the witch discovered him there!” In this pop-up feature, the reader assumes the role of the husband. Readers pick flowers and apples for the wife by touching and then dragging them into the basket.
Explanation and/or commentary For young readers, the multi-modal and kinesthetic interactivity that these pop-up features afford may allow them to develop an embodied (Glenberg, 1997; Glenberg, Brown & Levin, 2007) understanding of the narrative. By touching the flowers and dragging them to the basket, children engage their bodies in the act of picking which may activate and expand their schemas of understanding for “picking flowers” or “gardens”. Conversely, pop-up features may divert students’ attention from other key ideas in the narrative. With a focus on the act of picking flowers, students might forget that the garden is owned by a witch or that something bad could happen to the husband for having stolen the flowers (both rather important ideas in this story). Teachers who choose this app, should therefore know that pop-up activities could undermine students’ overall understanding of the Rapunzel story because they draw attention to some elements of the story over others.

Effectiveness: App design imposing additional cognitive load

Title Effectiveness–App design imposing additional cognitive load
App Name Barron’s Painless Reading Comprehension Challenge
App Maker Barron’s Educational Series Inc., Mobile

Darolyn Jones for Barron’s Educational Series, http://barronseduc.stores.yahoo.net/info.html

Screenshot *
General Description of the App’s Intended Purpose and Audience This didactic app provides three lessons and four sets of quiz questions regarding particular aspects of reading comprehension (e.g., inferring an unfamiliar word’s meaning from context, with particular attention to appositives). The quizzes complement the 2nd edition of Darolyn Jones’s book, Painless Reading Comprehension. Jones’s nine-chapter book covers topics such as “reading for information versus reading for fun,” “reading context clues,” and “mastering multiple-choice questions.” The quizzes in the app are traditional MC format. They provide opportunities to practice a reading strategy or skill that has just been explained in a didactic expository passage.
Screenshot context This page provides an example of a MC question. The user can click on the button labeled “click to read material” to access a screen explaining what “flag words” are and providing an illustrative paragraph that uses several “flag words” or phrases such as “it should be noted that….”
Explanation and/or commentary The design of this app imposes a relatively high level of extraneous cognitive load on the user’s limited working memory (Sweller, 1994). To answer the question about the phrase “it should be noted,” for example, the user has to devote scarce working memory space to remembering the passage on the preceding screen where the phrase was used as well as the meaning of “flag words” (which he/she has presumably just learned). The user can of course jump back and forth between screens as many times as he/she wants in order to re-read text on either page. Still, a considerable body of research from the perspective of Cognitive Load Theory (CLT) and Multimedia Learning Theory (MLT) (Moreno & Mayer, 1999) suggests that this kind of back-and-forth movement does little to improve comprehension or retention of new concepts and/or information. A better design would have been to juxtapose the MC question and the illustrative paragraph on the same screen. CLT and MLT studies have shown that increasing spatial contiguity of related information improves learning (for a summary, see Mayer, 2008).