AIS Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction


There has been significant debate in the literature on technology-mediated training about the appropriate role of learner control. We define learner control as giving trainees the ability to make choices about how they proceed through the learning environment. We explore two perspectives. First, we consider learners’ stated preferences for the extent of control in the learning environment. Second, we analyze the actual online learning behaviors of 518 trainees in a Fortune 500 organization. We compare a measure of learner control preferences to the most commonly used framework of learner control that comprises five dimensions: pace of instruction, sequence of topics, specific content covered, amount of advice/feedback provided, and type of media. We also compare the dimensionality of learner behaviors to this framework and examine the relationship between learner preferences and learner behaviors. Results suggest that fewer dimensions can capture both learner preferences and behaviors than what the literature currently suggests. Specifically, media control aligned with both pace and content control. The relationship between stated learner control preferences and learner control behaviors was relatively weak. However, we found support for the recently identified dimension of scheduling control and suggest a new learner control dimension of performance control, consistent with the importance of practice retrieval for learning.