Effects of presentation modality and practice strategy in animated demonstrations of software on achievement of undergraduate students
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Computer-based or web-based software training has become an increasingly popular training model in which animated demonstrations are used for instructions and simulations for practices. However, research studies on their effectiveness are very limited and the findings are inconsistent. This research study investigated the effects of presentation modality of animated demonstrations and practice strategy on undergraduate students’ achievement in learning web design with Microsoft FrontPage 2003 in a computerized environment. A 3 x 2 factorial experimental design was used in this study, with presentation modality and practice strategy as the two between-subjects independent variables. The instructions in animated demonstrations and practice simulations were presented in three modalities: 1) audio, 2) text, and 3) dual (a combination of text and audio). Two practice strategies were designed to help students practice what they had learned from the animated demonstrations: practice with program-controlled help, in which instructional hints were automatically provided, and practice with user-controlled help, in which no instructional hints were provided unless students seek assistance by clicking a help button. The dependent variables consisted of a retention test immediately after the training and a transfer test two days after the training. Participants were 123 undergraduate students from a large public research university in the southwest of the United States. They were randomly assigned to one of the six experimental treatment groups. The results of the experimental study revealed significant difference in the practice strategy factor. Students who practiced with user-controlled help had significantly better transfer performance than those who practiced with program-controlled help. However, there was no significant difference in the retention performance. No main effect was observed for the presentation modality factor and no significant interaction was detected between the two factors.