The Effects of Learning Goals on Learning Performance of Field-Dependent and Field-Independent Late Adolescents in a Hypertext Environment

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

As a result of advances in network technology, the Internet has become an extremely important way of delivering instruction. However, changing only the method of delivery may not provide further benefits to learners. Teaching and learning are about the meaningful interaction between instructors and learners no matter what the method of delivery (Muthukumar, 2004). Therefore, to provide better and more efficient instruction via the Internet, and to take advantage of online technology, it is important to investigate the information processing behavior of those who access a computerized reading environment and the potential impact of that behavior on learning.

The proliferation of Internet-based instruction indicates that learners have greater opportunities to involve the hypertext environment (Brinkerhoff, Klein, & Koroghlanian, 2001). Hypertext characterizes the nature of a computerized and Internet format environment. Hypertext environment provides different ways to approach content; its nonlinear characteristics allow different individuals to interact with the same information through different processes. Users are normally free to create their own reading structure and sequence. In fact, hypertext changes the conventional processes of structuring knowledge and understanding (Calcaterra, Antonietti, & Underwood, 2005; Lawless, Mills, & Brown, 2002; Muller-Kalthoff & Moller, 2003; Niederhauser, Reynolds, Salmen, & Skolmoski, 2000; Potelle & Rouet, 2003; Salmeron, Canas, Klntsch, & Fajarod, 2005).

In the past decade many researchers have investigated the importance of the hypertext system to learning. Using hyperlink systems as the main environment, numerous studies have examined the correlation between individual differences in cognitive style and performance of the users (Alomyan, 2004; Chen, & Macredie, 2002; Graft, 2003; Lawless et al., 1999; Lu, Yu, & Lin, 2003; Terrell, 2002). Chert and Macredie (2002) analyzed previous studies before constructing their own learning model in hypertext learning design. Lawless et al. (1999) investigated how learning goals influenced a reader's representation of the text content in a hypertext reading environment. Although the results showed no statistically significant differences in achievement scores between the groups with specific versus general preset learning goals in a hypertext environment, the study showed that the group constructed relational-type maps more frequently under the influence of a specific preset learning goal, indicating that different learning goals can influence users' thinking and patterns of navigation.

Although hypertext has been on the Internet for years and has become very popular in computer-based instruction and many studies have been conducted, it has not realized its potential to benefit all learners at the same level (Calcaterra et al., 2005; Chen & Macredie, 2002; Rouet & Levonen, 1996). Moreover, recent surveys show that Internet is the most important medium in young people's social life and is their main source of information (Subrahmanyam, Smahel, & Greenfield, 2006; Valkenbrug & Peter, 2007b; Wolak, Mitchell, & Finkelhor, 2003). Therefore, this study investigated the hypertext system from the perspective of instructional design regarding the performance of late adolescents and includes two critical factors: goal setting and cognitive styles.

Goal-Setting Theory

Goals are generally defined as performance objectives, or what learners want to achieve (Urdan, 1997). Goal setting provides motivation and a situation in which students can accomplish their task, no matter whether the students themselves or the instructors set the goal. Regardless of the content of learning, goal setting provides a clear direction and a precise target. The properties of the goal, that is, the level of specificity, proximity or difficulty, determine the effect of the goal. …