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Learner control refers to the ability of students to choose topics, assignments, project format or communication strategies according to their own interests and preferences.
Reigeluth & Stein 1983, p. 362 – "... instruction generally increases in effectiveness, efficiency, and appeal to the extent that it permits informed learner control by motivated learners" ().
Marlino, M.R. – "While some learner control can be motivating, too much can be confusing. The learner may not always be the best judge of the instruction required for effective learning.
Williams, 1996 – '"[Learner control is when] learners make their own decisions regarding to some aspects of the 'path', 'flow', or 'events' of instruction."
In many classes, learner control can take the form of learner choice, i.e., alternatives that achieve the same learning objectives but give learners opportunities to select the best way to learn and the best way to show what they have learned. Consider the following situations:
The degree of learner control should depend on following variables: (Depover and Quintin, 1992; Hannafin, 1984; Milheim & Martin, 1991; Steinberg, 1989):
Some questions to consider:
Depover, C. E Quintin, J. J. (1992). Learner control versus computer control in professional training context. In M. Giardina (ed.), Interactive Multimedia Learning Environments: human factors and technical considerations on design issues. Berlin, Springer-Verlag, 234-247.
Hannafin, M. J. (1984). Guidelines for using locus of instructional control in the design of computer-assisted instruction. Journal of Instructional Development 7(3), 6-10.
Schulmeister, Rolf (1997) "Learner control vs. program control." Hypermedia Learning Systems.
Retrieved May 14, 2003 from
Milheim, W. D. & Martin, B.L. (1991). Theoretical bases for the use of learner control: three different perspectives. Journal of Computer-Based Instruction 18(3), 99-105.
Marlino, M. R. (1995). Research findings and recommendations. Retrieved May 14, 2003 from http://www.met.ed.ac.uk/calmet/conferences/resfndrc.ppt
Penland, P. (1979). Self-initiated learning. Adult Education 29(3),170-79.
Reigeluth, C. M. & Stein, F.S. (1983). The elaboration theory of instruction. In C.M. Reigeluth, ed. Instructional-design theories and models, 335-82. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Steinberg, E. R. (1989). Cognition and learner control: a literature review, 1977-88. Journal of Computer-Based Instruction 16 (4),117-24.
Williams, M. D. (1996). Learner-control and instructional technologies. In D. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research for educational communications and technology (2nd ed.) Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.