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Abstract

This study investigated whether arrow-line cues can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of learning in a mobile device supported learning environment on leaf morphology of plants, either with or without the use of real plants. A cued and un-cued condition, in which primary school students used text and pictures on a tablet PC, were compared with a cued and un-cued condition, in which the students used the text and pictures on the tablet PC and real plants. Using the theoretical framework of cognitive load theory, it was expected that arrow-line cues would decrease extraneous cognitive load and that the availability of real plants would increase germane cognitive load. Arrow-line cues were hypothesized to decrease split-attention effects by supporting the students’ mental integration of different sources of related information on the mobile device, materializing in a more favorable relationship between learning time and test performance (ie, higher learning efficiency) in the cued conditions than in the un-cued conditions. The availability of real plants was hypothesized to foster learning efficiency by providing a more motivating physical environment, in which the students could verify the knowledge available on a mobile device with real plants. However, this positive germane cognitive load effect was only expected in combination with decreased extraneous cognitive load in the cued condition. Whereas, the results showed higher efficiency of the cued conditions than the un-cued conditions, no difference was found between the cued conditions with or without real plants. The implications of the results for research and design of mobile device supported learning environments are discussed.

Practitioner Notes

What is already known about this topic
  • Mobile device-supported learning has been widely used in different learning fields.
  • Mobile device-supported learning in the physical environment would result in substantial split-attention effects, which impose a high extraneous cognitive load and hamper learning.
  • Cueing is the method that has recently been shown to be effective in decreasing split-attention and enhancing learning.
What this paper adds
  • Applying a cueing method, named arrow-line cueing, supports learners’ integration of texts and pictures on the mobile device.
  • Investigating whether arrow-line cues can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of learning in a mobile device-supported learning environment on leaf morphology of plants, either with or without the use of real plants.
  • Investigating whether arrow-line cues can decrease extraneous cognitive load and whether the availability of real plants can increase germane cognitive load.
Implications for practice and/or policy
  • Practitioners could apply the arrow-line cues in designing learning materials for the mobile device supported learning in the physical environment.
  • Practitioners should consider the negative effects of cognitive overload when using mobile device supported learning in the physical environment.
  • Practitioners should try to develop and use more methods to reduce extraneous cognitive load in mobile device-supported learning in the physical environment.