Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

A Comparison of Single- and Dual-Screen Environment in Programming Language: Cognitive Loads and Learning Effects

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

A Comparison of Single- and Dual-Screen Environment in Programming Language: Cognitive Loads and Learning Effects

Article excerpt

Introduction

The ability of technology to facilitate the availability of information effectively and offer a convenient learning environment has long been discussed and developed. However, in such a learning environment, the results of related studies depend on the information processing approach to explain individual cognitive abilities (Lee, 2004; Moreno & Mayer, 2000). Colvin et al. (2007) stated that the use of multiple screens was more beneficial than single screens on task performance and usability of users. They also indicated that the three-screen display showed no significant advance over the two-screen condition. The study of Hutchings and Stasko (2007) pointed that the advantages of using the integrated extension of an additional screen were to support tasks, execute applications, and present images simultaneously. Setting an additional screen in a learning environment should provide teachers more display space to teach more learning materials simultaneously.

The learning environment in this study provides teachers additional instructional space to instruct multiple materials simultaneously in a programming language course through the use of two adjacent projection screens. That is, multiple materials instructing programming skills can be presented on screens, such as instructional slides, programming language codes, or executable programming instances of working examples. Through displaying multiple materials on two adjacent screens simultaneously, teachers could instruct the concepts of a programming language by demonstrating programming examples and learners might learn intuitively the programming concepts from these examples. Perrin (1969) stated that the multi-image presentation with an effective information density allows learners to process larger amounts of information in a short time. If the density of presented information is increased, learners will effectively obtain the increased information. Smith (2001) stated that, given the presenting complexity of multimedia and its close relationship to cognitive and information processing theories, it is helpful to review a perspective known as cognitive load theory to understand the possible implications of multiple-channel processing on cognitive structures. Based on the suggestions of cognitive load theory, the split-attention (Clark & Mayer, 2008; Cierniak et al., 2009; Florax & Ploetzner, 2010) and worked example effects (Renkl & Atkinson, 2003; Renkl, 2005; Sweller, 2006) should be applied to design the instructional materials to avoid the effects of cognitive loads. However, few studies exist on these learning effects of programming language instruction using various teaching materials in the environments with single or dual screens.

Two learning environments have been designed in this study in a computer classroom for programming language instruction. The teacher instructs a programming language course in a single-screen learning environment (SSLE), and he/she must repeatedly swap the instructional view between learning content and operational procedures of programming development software in order to make a connection reference of them. That is, if the teacher is instructing on the view of the learning materials, the other view of operating programming development software for demonstration will be temporally unavailable, and vice versa. The other is a dual-screen learning environment, called DSLE. The DSLE is designed to show the two views of learning content and operating programming development software. That is, if the teacher is instructing one view of these two screens, he/she must stand in the front of that screen to attract the attention of the learners.

The main purpose of this study is to investigate the significant effects of learning programming language in a dualscreen environment. The question then arises about cognitive loads of learners and learning achievement: both might be affected by processing separate or integrated information on dual screens. …

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