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Corporate training

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Title:
Corporate training strategies adults use to learn from self-paced technology-based instruction
Creator:
Dobrovolny, Jacqueline Lea
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English
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335 leaves : illustrations ; 28 cm

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Subjects / Keywords:
Employees -- Training of -- Computer-assisted instruction ( lcsh )
Programmed instruction ( lcsh )
Learning strategies ( lcsh )
Employees -- Training of -- Computer-assisted instruction ( fast )
Learning strategies ( fast )
Programmed instruction ( fast )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 326-335).
General Note:
School of Education and Human Development
Statement of Responsibility:
by Jacqueline Lea Dobrovolny.

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Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
49630369 ( OCLC )
ocm49630369
Classification:
LD1190.E3 2001d .D62 ( lcc )

Full Text
Corporate Training:
Strategies Adults Use to Learn From
Self-Paced, Technology-Based Instruction
B.A. University of Colorado at Boulder, 1971
M.A. University of Colorado at Boulder, 1975
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Educational Leadership and Innovation
by
Jacqueline Lea Dobrovolny
2001


by Jacqueline Lea Dobrovolny
All rights reserved.


This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree by
Jacqueline Lea Dobrovolny
has been approved
by
//-/ Date


Dobrovolny, Jacqueline Lea (Ph.D. Educational Leadership and Innovation)
Corporate Training: Strategies Adults Use To Learn From Self-Paced, Technology-Based Instruction
Thesis directed by Associate Professor R. Scott Grabinger
ABSTRACT
This was an exploratory, qualitative research study that investigated how adults, in
corporations, learned from self-paced, technology-based instruction. The goal of this investigation was to
identify strategies instructional designers can use, when designing self-paced, technology-based corporate
training, to help adults construct their own knowledge.
The research methodology was a series of qualitative interviews with volunteers from three
different international, high-tech corporations. Three volunteers participated in the pilot study; seven
volunteers participated in the full study. Participants selected and took self-paced, technology-based
courses, offered by their corporation, which were relevant to their current or near-future employment
responsibilities. Two participants took a course delivered from a CDROM and the other five
participants took courses delivered from either the Internet or a secure intranet.
Results indicated knowledge construction began with metacognition, as participants assessed
their understanding and focused on topics that confused them. Participants resolved their confusion by
reflecting on three time-frames: the past and their prior experiences, the present and how the new
information applied to their current job responsibilities, and the future and how the course content
might apply to new responsibilities.
Results also indicated that participants constructed knowledge using a variety of different
strategies: 11 metacognition strategies, 11 reflection strategies, 10 prior experience strategies, six
conversation strategies, and six authentic experience strategies. Participants also identified 15 course
IV


This research indicates that knowledge construction for adults taking self-paced, technology-
based corporate training starts with and is sustained by metacognition. It also indicates that learners
control and construct their knowledge and they do it to meet their needs, based on their prior
experiences, their current responsibilities, and their expectations of future responsibilities. Thus,
instructional designers of self-paced, technology-based corporate training must evaluate all of their
designs and instructional strategies in terms of how well they facilitate and support metacognition. They
must also design self-paced, technology-based corporate training such that it is easy for learners to
manipulate it and personalize the content. That is, they must accept that whatever they design, learners
will inevitably change it and that is exactly what learners are supposed to do.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I recommend its publication.
Signed
v


Acknowledgement
Conducting a research study and writing a dissertation are similar to designing and developing
self-paced, technology-based instruction. Both projects are complex, there are both highs and lows,
and it takes a good team to successfully complete them. I am forever grateful for the assistance from the
following wonderful colleagues, friends and family. Without them, my dream could never have come
true.
To my committee, Scott Grabinger, Alan Davis, Joanna Dunlap, Laura Goodwin, and Joseph
Lamos: I loved working with you. You challenged yet supported me and our discussions were always
stimulating and enjoyable. I hope I can continue to work with each of you in the future. Special thanks
to Scott, my dissertation chair. He has high standards but he always gave me a ladder by which to meet
those standards. I greatly appreciated his thorough yet succinct comments, his hands-off yet caring style,
and his timely wisdom.
The following people assisted me in a variety of different ways. Some were participants in this
research, some were colleagues who listened to me discuss this study and then provided valuable
reflections, arguments, and suggestions. Some helped with me with NVivo, some helped me with the
graphics, and some provided the proverbial moral support and encouragement. Each of you are
special and I thank you so much.
Karen Ahem
Lies Berault
Mary Anne Butler
Rob Foshay
Mary Ann Grasser
Mary Anne Lewis
Dave Mueller
Glenda Mueller
Greg Pallai
Charlotte Redden
Monica Rios
Deb Schaefer
Julie Seter
Ellen Stevens
Patricia Stevens
Pat Steinholtz
Chris Thomam
Travis Chillemi
Dave Young
Cindy Uhl


Special thanks to Robert Mo Mahany, Rod Sims, and Tim Spannaus who helped me think
through a variety of challenges. Mo helped by reflecting on his own knowledge construction strategies
and those of the hundreds of adults who have attended the classes he has taught. Mo also helped by
playing devils advocate, which he does so well, discussing various technology dilemmas, and making
me laugh. Rod critiqued early drafts of chapters one and two and numerous sections in chapters three
and five. He was also a great sounding board for some of my trial ideas, insecure questions, and
alternative solutions to various dilemmas. Tim wrote one of the recommendations for me to start this
journey and has been supportive throughout, providing great ideas when I was lost or confused.
Together, Mo, Rod, Tim and I have a nearly 100 years experience developing self-paced, technology-
based training.
Finally, my husband Kenneth has been the epitome of support and confidence. The night I
returned home from the first class in my doctoral program, he greeted me a smile and said, Youre on
your way to your Ph.D. Throughout the last five years, he has read and discussed draft documents,
helped package various papers and my dissertation proposal, and patiently listened to me loudly
complain about various crises. His positive and calm attitude always sustained me and his humor always
made me laugh.
Thanks to each of you for your unique and wonderful contributions to my dream. Please let
me know when its my turn to return the favor.


Contents
Figures ....................................................................................xiv
Tables ...............................................................................xv
Chapter
1.0 Introduction.........................................................................1
1.1 The General Problem..................................................................1
1.2 Background of the Problem............................................................2
1.3 Constructivism: The Theoretical Framework............................................4
1.4 Research Questions..................................................................13
1.5 Methodology.........................................................................14
1.5.1 Data Generation Process.............................................................14
1.5.2 Data Analysis.......................................................................15
1.6 Summary.............................................................................15
1.7 Structure of This Dissertation......................................................16
2.0 Literature Review...................................................................18
2.1 Research Questions..................................................................18
2.2 Introduction........................................................................19
2.3 Adult Learning Theory History.......................................................21
2.3.1 Introduction........................................................................21
2.3.2 Reflection Questions................................................................21
2.3.3 Adult Learning Research History.....................................................22
2.4 Knowledge Construction..............................................................23
2.4.1 Prior Experience....................................................................24
2.4.1.1 Introduction........................................................................24
2.4.1.2 Reflection Questions................................................................25
2.4.1.3 Prior Experience Research...........................................................25
2.4.2 Metacognition and Reflection........................................................26
2.4.2.1 Introduction........................................................................26
2.4.2.2 Reflection Questions................................................................26
2.4.2.3 Metacognition and Reflection Research...............................................27
2.4.3 Generative Learning Strategies......................................................29
2.4.3.1 Introduction........................................................................29
viii


2.4.3.2 Reflection Questions.................................................................29
2.4.3.3 Generative Learning Strategies Research..............................................30
2.4.4 Sociocultural Learning...............................................................32
2.4.4.1 Introduction.........................................................................32
2.4.4.2 Reflection Questions.................................................................32
2.4.4.3 Sociocultural Learning Research......................................................32
2.4.5 Situated Cognition...................................................................35
2.4.5.1 Introduction.........................................................................35
2.4.5.2 Reflection Questions.................................................................36
2.4.5.3 Situated Cognition Research..........................................................36
2.5 Cognitive and Sociocultural Constructivist Theories Work Together....................40
2.6 Summary..............................................................................41
2.7 Research Questions...................................................................41
3.0 Methodology..........................................................................43
3.1 Research Questions...................................................................43
3.2 Overall Approach and Rationale.......................................................44
3.3 Participant and Site Selection.......................................................47
3.3.1 Purposive Sample.....................................................................47
3.3.2 Source of Participants...............................................................51
3.3.3 Number of Participants...............................................................52
3.3.4 Recruitment Strategies...............................................................53
3.3.5 Sampling Problems....................................................................53
3.4 Self-Paced, Technology-Based Instruction.............................................54
3.5 Sources of Data......................................................................56
3.5.1 First Discussion.....................................................................56
3.5.2 Participant Takes Self-paced, Technology-based Instruction...........................57
3.5.3 Second Discussion....................................................................57
3.5.4 Third Discussion.....................................................................65
3.5.5 Email Follow Up......................................................................67
3.5.6 My Reflective Joumal.................................................................67
3.5.7 Relationship Between Data, Research Questions, and Constructivism....................68
3.6 Data Recording, Protection, Management, and Disposition..............................75
3.6.1 Data Recording.......................................................................75
IX


3.6.2 Data Protection............................................................................75
3.6.3 Data Management............................................................................76
3.6.4 Data Disposition...........................................................................76
3.7 Reliability and Validity...................................................................76
3.7.1 Reliability................................................................................77
3.7.1.1 External Reliability......................................................................77
3.7.1.1.1 Researcher Status Position...............................................................77
3.7.1.1.2 Informant Choices.......................................................................77
3.7.1.1.3 Social Situations and Conditions........................................................78
3.7.1.1.4 Analytic Constructs and Premises........................................................84
3.7.1.1.5 Methods of Data CoEection and Analysis..................................................84
3.7.1.2 Internal Reliability......................................................................84
3.7.1.2.1 Low-inference Descriptors................................................................84
3.7.1.2.2Multiple Researchers......................................................................85
3.7.1.2.3Participant Researchers...................................................................89
3.7.1.2.4Peer Examination..........................................................................90
3.7.1.2.5MechanicaHy Recorded Data.................................................................90
3.7.2 Validity..................................................................................90
3.7.2.1 Internal Validity........................................................................91
3.7.2.1.1 History and Maturation...................................................................91
3.7.2.1.2Observer Effects..........................................................................91
3.7.2.1.3 Selection and Regression................................................................93
3.7.2.1.4Mortality ................................................................................93
3.7.2.1.5 Spurious Conclusions....................................................................93
3.7.2.2 External Validity.........................................................................94
3.7.2.2.1 Selection Effects........................................................................95
3.1.2.2.2 Setting Effects.........................................................................95
3.1.2.2.3 History Effects.........................................................................96
3.7.2.2.4Construct Effects.........................................................................97
3.8 Data Analysis Procedures...................................................................97
3.9 PEot Study................................................................................102
3.9.1 Strengths and Weaknesses of the Purposive Sampling Strategy...............................103
3.9.2 Flow and Duration of the Face-to-Face Discussions.........................................104


3.9.3 Effectiveness of Technical Tools....................................................105
3.9.4 Number of Discussions...............................................................106
3.9.5 Evaluate NVivo Software.............................................................107
3.9.6 Unanticipated Results...............................................................107
3.9.7 Confirmatory Results................................................................109
3.10 Institutional Protections...........................................................110
3.11 Benefits to Organizations and Participants..........................................110
3.12 Summary.............................................................................Ill
4.0 Results.............................................................................115
4.1 Research Questions..................................................................115
4.2 Use of NVivo and Overall Approach to the Data Analysis..............................117
4.3 How Adults Use Their Prior Experience to Construct Knowledge........................122
4.4 How Adults Use Reflection to Construct Knowledge....................................132
4.5 How Adults Use Metacognition to Construct Knowledge.................................141
4.6 How Adults Use Generative Learning Strategies (GLS) to Construct Knowledge..........152
4.6.1 How Adults Use Questions to Construct Knowledge.....................................153
4.6.2 How Adults Use Examples to Construct Knowledge......................................158
4.6.3 How Adults Use Simulations and Animations to Construct Knowledge....................161
4.6.4 How Adults Use Interactivity to Construct Knowledge.................................164
4.6.5 How Adults Use Highlighting and Paper Copies of Self-Paced, Technology-
Based Instruction to Construct Knowledge............................................167
4.6.6 How Adults Use Notes to Construct Knowledge.........................................172
4.6.7 How Adults Use Graphics to Construct Knowledge......................................175
4.6.8 How Adults Use Section Headings and Tables of Contents to Construct
Knowledge...........................................................................178
4.7 How Adults Use Conversations to Construct Knowledge.................................182
4.8 How Adults Use Authentic Experiences to Construct Knowledge.........................188
4.9 Features Of Relevant, Self-Paced, Technology Based Instruction That Facilitate
Knowledge Construction..............................................................194
4.10 How Adults Use Relevance of the Instruction to Construct Knowledge..................208
4.11 How Adults Use A Review Process to Construct Knowledge..............................212
4.12 How Adults Use Terminology to Construct Knowledge...................................215
4.13 How Adults Use Job Aids to Construct Knowledge......................................219
4.14 How Adults Use the Concept Of Big Picture to Construct Knowledge..................222
xi


4.15 Summary..............................................................................225
5.0 Discussion and Implications..........................................................230
5.1s Research Questions...................................................................230
5.2 Introduction.........................................................................231
5.3 Discussion of Research Results.......................................................232
5.3.1 Model of How Adults Learn From Self-Paced, Technology-Based Corporate
Training.............................................................................232
5.3.2 Constructivist Theory Of Learning....................................................237
5.3.2.1 Learning Is Development..............................................................238
5.3.2.2 Errors Facilitate Learning...........................................................239
5.3.2.3 Reflection Is Critical...............................................................240
5.3.2.4 Dialogues Facilitate Learning........................................................241
5.3.2.5 Learning Requires Big Ideas........................................................242
5.3.3 My Reflective Journal................................................................243
5.4 Implications Of Research Results.....................................................244
5.4.1 Implications For Instructional Design Strategies.....................................245
5.4.2 Implications for Learner Control Strategies..........................................252
5.5 Limitations..........................................................................254
5.6 Future Research......................................................................255
5.7 Summary..............................................................................255
Appendix
A. Descriptions of Context..............................................................257
Description of Context for Ann.......................................................257
Description of Context for Bob.......................................................262
Description of Context for Connie....................................................269
Description of Context for Don.......................................................275
Description of Context for Joan......................................................280
Description of Context for Kathy.....................................................282
Description of Context for Lynn......................................................287
B. Photograph of One Post-It Note Diagram...............................................292
C. Management of the Data Generation Process............................................295
D. Participant Demographic Information..................................................299
E. Function and Structure of Meeting Locations..........................................300
F. Interrater Reliability Directions and Passages.......................................302
xii


G. Major Codes and Sub-Codes.........................................................317
H. Consent Form......................................................................322
I. Number of Documents Per Participant...............................................325
References...............................................................................326
xiii


Figures
Figure 5. 1 Dobrovolny Model of How Adults Learn From Self-paced,
Technology-based Corporate Training..........................................233
xiv


Tables
Table 1.1 Principles of Constructivism: Related Research and How Constructivist
Principles Apply to This Study.........................................................6
Table 2.1 Summary of the Relationship between the literature Review Topics and a
Constructivist Theory of Learning......................................................19
Table 3.1 Data Generation Process.................................................................45
Table 3.2 Selection Criteria for the Purposive Sample.............................................49
Table 3.3 Data Collected on Each Course and Organization..........................................55
Table 3.4 Times for Second Discussion.............................................................58
Table 3.5 Questions And Topics For Second Discussion..............................................60
Table 3.6 Times for Third Discussion..............................................................65
Table 3.7 Questions and Topics for Third Discussion...............................................66
Table 3.8 Number of Email Messages Received.......................................................67
Table 3.9 Relationship Between Research Questions 1 through 6, Sources of Data, and
the Constructivist Theory of Learning..................................................69
Table 3.10 Relationship Between Research Question 7, Sources of Data, and the
Constructivist Theory of Learning......................................................73
Table 3.11 Definitions and References for Research Concepts and Coding Categories.................79
Table 3.12 Interrater Reliability Estimation......................................................86
Table 3.13 Data Analysis Techniques...............................................................98
Table 3.14 Duration Of Second and Third Discussions With Pilot Study Participants................104
Table 4.1 Reflection Sub-Codes...................................................................118
Table 4.2 Number of Sub-Codes and Passages per Major Code or Set.................................120
Table 4.3 Likert-type Scale Questions: Ratings of Each Course....................................121
Table 4.4 Prior Experience Passages..............................................................124
Table 4.5 Reflection Passages....................................................................134
Table 4.6 Metacognition Passages.................................................................143
Table 4.7 Questions Passages.....................................................................154
Table 4.8 Examples Passages......................................................................159
Table 4.9 Simulation and Animations Passages.....................................................162
Table 4.10 Interactivity Passages................................................................165
Table 4.11 Paper Copies Passages.................................................................169
xv


Table 4.12 Highlighting Passages.............................................................170
Table 4.13 Note Taking Passages..............................................................173
Table 4.14 Graphics Passages.................................................................176
Table 4.15 Section Headings and Tables of Contents Passages..................................179
Table 4.16 Summary of How Participants Used Generative Learning Strategies...................181
Table 4.17 Conversation Passages.............................................................183
Table 4.18 Authentic Experience Passages.....................................................189
Table 4.19 Features of Self-Paced, Technology-Based Courses That Facilitate or
Undermine Knowledge Construction..................................................195
Table 4.20 Generative Learning Strategies (Course Features) That Support Knowledge
Construction......................................................................200
Table 4.21 Other Course Features That Support or Hinder Knowledge Construction...............201
Table 4.22 Hours To Complete The Courses.....................................................202
Table 4.23 Summary Of Coruse Features That Support or Hinder Knowledge
Construction......................................................................207
Table 4.24 Relevance Passages................................................................209
Table 4.25 Review or Refresh Passages........................................................213
Table 4.26 Terminology Passages..............................................................216
Table 4.27 Job Aid Passages..................................................................220
Table 4.28 Big Picture Passages..............................................................223
Table 4.29 Summary of Knowledge Construction Strategies......................................226
Table 5.1 Sub-Codes Most Frequently Used In My Journal......................................243
xvi


Chapter 1
1.0 Introduction
In business and industry, knowledge is power and time is money. CEOs thus want their
employees to acquire more knowledge in less time and self-paced, technology-based instruction is a
technology that can meet that requirement (Kulik, Kulik, & Shwalb, 1986). The effectiveness of this
type of training in a corporate setting is, however, still unclear. The focus of this research was, therefore,
to investigate how adults, in a corporate setting, construct knowledge, during and after taking self-paced,
technology-based instruction. Th& goal of this research was to identify those strategies instructional
designers can use, when designing self-paced, technology-based corporate training, to help adults
personalize the instruction (construct their own knowledge) to meet their unique needs.
1.1 The General Problem
The Training Industry 2000 status report was a comprehensive analysis of employer-sponsored
training in the United States. It described budgets, types of content, delivery media, and the people who
control, benefit from, and deliver training. This report indicated that nearly 80 percent of the 1,347
organizations surveyed used CDROM to deliver self-paced, technology-based instruction. Additionally,
slightly more than 50 percent of the organizations used their corporate Intranet and slightly less than 50
percent used the public Internet or the World Wide Web to deliver self-paced, technology-based
instruction. Comparing different instructional media, 13 percent of corporate training was self-paced,
technology-based instruction (Training Industry Report, 2000)
The research on the effectiveness of self-paced, technology-based instruction dates back more
than three decades and indicates that across content and educational levels, this type of instruction
improves performance and students master the learning objectives in significantly less time than students
in group-paced instruction (Dalton, Hannafin, & Hooper, 1989; Fletcher, 1996). Unfortunately, adults
1


above college age were rarely the focus of these studies (Bates, Seyler, & Holton, 1995), making the
implications for corporate settings uncertain. Kulik, Kulik, and Shwalb (1986) published a meta-analysis
of computer-based adult education (CBE) and reported that learners taking CBE usually obtained higher
examination scores and took less time to complete the instruction than learners in traditional classes.
None of the studies they included in their analysis were, however, conducted with adults working in a
corporate setting; the context of all of the studies was either adult basic education or military technical
training. Finally, Merriam and Caffarella (1999) reported that there is very little research on the process
of adult learning. Thus, most corporations are currently providing self-paced, technology-based
instruction to their employees without the benefit of solid, empirical research, specifically focused on
corporate training, to guide the design, or purchase criteria, of that instruction (Bates et al., 1995).
1.2 Background of the Problem
Instructional designers typically assume they are completely responsible for the design and
subsequent effectiveness of instruction. When behaviorism was in vogue, instructional designers
designed self-paced, paper-based instruction called programmed instruction (Steinberg, 1991).
Programmed instruction led learners, one small step at a time, through the curriculum and learners
answered questions after brief sections of information (Shute & Psotka, 1996; Steinberg, 1991).
Instructional designers attempted to adapt programmed instruction to the individual differences of
students by providing individualization (Steinberg, 1991). This individualization was, however,
rudimentary. Students checked their own answers to the questions and sometimes, depending on the
learners response to a question, the instruction directed learners to different sections of the text
(Crowder, 1960). Another aspect of programmed instruction was that errors were perceived as inhibitors
of learning so instructional designers avoided or ignored them (Morey, 1996).
Computers automated programmed instruction, the terminology changed, and the instruction
became known as computer-assisted instruction (CAI) (Shute & Psotka, 1996). The definition of CAI
was computer-presented instruction that is individualized, interactive, and guided (Steinberg, 1991, p.
2


2). Much of the research on CAI focused on the effectiveness of individualization strategies, which, with
the help of computers, included numerous sophisticated approaches such as the use of multiple
regression, Bayesian probability models, and structural and algorithmic approaches (Park, 1996). Two
other popular individualization strategies included aptitude-treatment interaction (ATI), where
instructional designers adapted the instructional methods, procedures, or strategies to the learners
specific aptitudes (Cronbach & Snow, 1977; Park, 1996), and learner control strategies, where learners
made their own decisions about some aspect of the path or flow of instruction (Williams, 1996). The
ATI research developed numerous sophisticated individualization strategies and similarly, the learner
control research identified many different techniques to allow learners to individualize the instruction for
themselves. Unfortunately, this body of research, which has a long history, covering hundreds of
studies, remains inconclusive (Burton, Moore, & Magliaro, 1996; Park, 1996; Reeves, 1993; Shute &
Psotka, 1996; Steinberg, 1989).
One of the major problems with the individualization research was the amount of time and
effort it took instructional designers to implement the individualization strategies (Glaser, 1962; Park,
1996; Sims, 2000). More importantly, this research was inconclusive because of the assumption about
who really controls the learning process. The individualization research assumed that instruction was the
communication of information and the instructional designer controlled the learning process; learning
was more or less successful because the instructional design was more or less effective (Winn & Snyder,
1996). While the term learner control implies that the learner is in control of the learning process, the
definition of learner control was those design features of CBI that enable learners to choose freely the
path, rate, content, and nature of feedback in instruction (Reeves, 1993, p. 40). That is, learner control
merely gave the learner a few choices about the presentation of the information. If learners control the
path, rate, content, and nature of feedback, are they really in control of their learning process?
Constructivists, who view learning as a process the learner controls, say no (Lebow, 1993; Reeves,
1993).
3


1.3 Constructivism: The Theoretical Framework
Constructivism, which is a psychological theory about learning (Fosnot, 1996), hypothesizes
that learning is the active process of constructing knowledge (Bereiter, 1994; Duffy & Cunningham,
1996; Fosnot, 1996; Jonassen, 1991; Phillips, 1995). Constructivism assumes that meaning is a function
of how the individual creates meaning from his or her experiences (Jonassen, 1991, p. 10). Thus, a
persons knowledge should be perceived as a verb, denoting access, rather than a noun, which typically
denotes possession (Simon, 1982). Knowledge is the process of accessing and manipulating information,
not of having or not having it (Simon, 1982). Fosnot (1996) identified five general principles of learning
from the constructivist point of view:
1. Learning is not the result of development; learning is development (Fosnot, 1996, p. 29) and
as such it requires invention and self-organization on the part of the learner (p. 29). Learners
need to question, test, and validate their own hypotheses or alternatives.
2. Errors or disequilibrium facilitate learning. Errors are the result of the learner's conceptions and
therefore, they should be illuminated, explored, and discussed, not minimized or avoided.
Instruction should provide realistic contexts to allow learners to develop both affirming and
contradictory alternatives (Fosnot, 1996).
3. Reflection is a critical component of the knowledge construction process. It enables learners to
generalize across experiences and it is facilitated through journals and discussions which focus
on the connections across experiences (Fosnot, 1996).
4. Dialogues within a community support and facilitate reflection and knowledge construction.
Ideas are validated to the extent that they are accepted by the members of a community
(Fosnot, 1996).
5. Learning is the process of developing central organizing principles (Fosnot, 1996, p. 30),
which generalize across experiences. These big ideas (p. 30) often require previous
conceptions to be revised or reorganized in light of new information.
4


There is important research to corroborate each of these five principles and each principle
directly relates to this study. Table 1.1 below summarizes relevant research that applies to each principle
and to this study. It also describes how each principle, and the supporting research, applies to this
research.
5


Table 1.1 Principles of Constructivism: Related Research and How Constructivist Principles Apply to This Study
Principles of 1 Constructivism (Fosnot, 1996, p. 29-30) Related Research How Constructivist Principles / Apply to This Study
1. Learning is not the result of development; learning is development [Fosnot, 1996 #212, p. 29) and as such it requires invention and self-organization on the part of the learner (p. 29). Learners need to question, test, and validate their own hypotheses or alternatives. Learning is the active process of constructing, not acquiring knowledge (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996; Winn & Snyder, 1996). Furthermore, learners develop knowledge from adaptation to their environment, which they create from prior experiences, beliefs, biases and understandings (Jonassen, 1994; Winn & Snyder, 1996). Learning is, therefore, knowledge construction, the process of personalizing and/or customizing new information; it is the process of malting new information relevant and/or meaningful (Anderson & Thomas, 1992; Fosnot, 1996; Roth, 1997). Another important aspect of knowledge construction is that learners always construct their own knowledge (Bopry, 1999; Noddings, 2000). Given that learners always construct their own knowledge, we can study the knowledge construction process across different types of instruction. Regardless of the content, the context, or the instructional design, we will always see learners constructing their own knowledge. This was an important concept for this research because each participant took a self-paced, technology-based instructional program that was relevant to his or her career, i.e., only two of the participants took the same course. Additionally, the seven participants were from three different corporations.
2. Errors or disequilibrium facilitate learning. Errors are the result of the learner's In addition to mistakes, culture and context are part of a realistic learning environment (Dewey, 1938; Duffy & Cunningham, 1996; Grabinger, 1996; Jonassen, 1994; Mayer, 1999). Knowledge is situated, being in part a product of The participants in this study constructed their knowledge in specific and unique contexts and these unique contexts played an important role in each participants knowledge construction process.


Table 1.1 Principles of Constructivism: Related Research and How Constructivist Principles Apply to This Study
Principles of Constructivism . How Constructivist Principles : !
(Fosnot, 1996, p, 29-30) Related Research Apply to This Study
conceptions and therefore, 1999). Knowledge is situated, being in part a product of each participants knowledge construction process.
they should be illuminated, the activity, context and culture in which it is developed and Neither the participants knowledge, nor their
explored, and discussed, not used (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989, p. 32). Learning is, learning, could be separated from that context and,
minimized or avoided. therefore, a process which occurs in and is effected by the accordingly, when the participants described their
Instruction should provide various systems of which the learner is a member, e.g., the knowledge construction process, they also
realistic contexts to allow learners work group, department, organization, profession, described significant or relevant aspects of the
learners to develop both community, and family. Similarly, Kolbs (1981) Experiential context. The participants also described problems
affirming and contradictory Learning model views adult learning as a process grounded or errors they experienced as they evaluated and
alternatives (Fosnot, 1996). in concrete, realistic experiences, where mistakes and errors can be made, analyzed, and corrected. used their newly constructed knowledge.
3. Reflection is a critical component of the knowledge construction process. It enables learners to generalize across experiences and it is facilitated through journals The definition of reflection and how it compares to metacognition varies among different researchers (Boud, Keogh, & Walker, 1985; Collins, Brown, & Holum, 1991; Kottkamp, 1990; Schraw, 1998; Von Wright, 1992; Wilson & Cole, 1996). For the purposes of this study, the definition of The primary data generation strategy for this study was to ask participants to describe how they personalized the self-paced, technology-based instruction. This information was elicited from the participants both in conversations and in Post-It
metacognition was the process of self-assessment and self correction. The definition included descriptions of how I note diagrams that all participants created and revised. The nartirinants also kent a iournal to


Table 1.1 Principles of Constructivism: Related Research and How Constructivist Principles Apply to This Study
Principles of Constructivism C-' Civ^Hriw^ponsti^tivistfhm
(Fosnot, 1996, p. 29-30) Related Research Apply to This Study
and discussions which focus correction. The definition included descriptions of how I revised. The participants also kept a journal to
on the connections across learn, correcting errors we make in our own thinking, record the same information. The participants
experiences (Fosnot, 1996). answering test questions, and re-reading instructional verbalized their metacognition and their reflections
information. The definition of metacognition also included in these discussions and documented their
the process of regulating and modifying our cognitive metacognition and reflections in their diagrams and
activity (Von Wright, 1992), monitoring the progress of our journals.
learning, planning and selecting learning strategies and changing strategies when necessary (Ridley, Schutz, Glanz, & Weinstein, 1992; Schraw, 1998). Additionally, I kept a journal to document my knowledge construction process. This journal contained descriptions of my metacognition and
The definition of reflection, used in this study, was an reflections.
interpretive process where learners think about how they can use the instructional information or visualize how the new information will solve a problem or improve something. The definition of reflection included identifying when the course does not meet our needs, finding and correcting errors in the course, and comparing our performance with the performance of others (Collins et al., 1991). The definition


Table 1.1 Principles of Constructivism: Related Research and How Constructivist Principles Apply to This Study
Principles of Constructivism ' (Fosnot, 1996, p. 29-30) Related Research How Constructivist Principles Apply to This Study
of reflection also included situations that occur after the learner completes the instruction. In this case, something in the learners environment triggers a flashback and the learner thinks back to the instruction, often reflecting on how something in the course relates or links to something the learner just experienced (Boud et al., 1985).
4. Dialogues within a
community support and
facilitate reflection and
knowledge construction.
Ideas are validated to the
extent that they are
accepted by the members of
a community (Fosnot,
1996).
If individual learners always create their own
knowledge (Bopry, 1999; Noddings, 2000), based on their
own unique experiences, beliefs, and biases (Jonassen, 1994;
Winn & Snyder, 1996), then a conundrum of constructivism
is, How can we ever have shared meaning? If each
individual only knows what he or she has constructed, how
can we possibly talk to each other or reach agreement?
Fosnot (1996) argued that language, stories, metaphors, and
models enable us to listen to and probe one anothers
understanding, thereby negotiating taken-as shared
meanings (p. 26). Nevertheless, even our shared
All the participants in this study discussed the
content of the courses they took with colleagues
and mentors. These conversations supported and
facilitated the participants personal knowledge
construction process. Additionally, these
conversations were conducted almost exclusively
with colleagues in the participants department or
work group in the context of a specific project or
task. Thus, these conversations supported and
facilitated the participants membership in a specific
community of practice where the knowledge


Table 1.1 Principles of Constructivism: Related Research and How Constructivist Principles Apply to This Study
Principles of Constructivism How Constructivist Principles
(Fosnot, 1996, p. 29-30) ' Related Research Apply to This Study
perspectives are interpreted and transformed by each construction process was a participatory activity
individual and, therefore, no matter how much we probe, we can never be sure that the meaning is shared (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996, p. 171). Rorty (1991) hypothesized that the knowledge construction process does not seek to identify the truth but rather to establish viability in a unique context. That is, knowledge construction is a dialogical process, aimed at increasing our understanding of our world, through unforced agreement, in a community of which we are a member. Similarly, sociocultural constructivists argue that learning is a process of acculturation into an established community of practice (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996). (Salomon & Perkins, 1998).
5. Learning is the process of developing central organizing principles (Fosnot, 1996, p. 30) which generalize across J TT. The research on the role of prior experiences in the knowledge construction process indicates a strong relationship between prior experience and performance (Dewey, 1938; Jonassen & Grabowski, 1993; Knowles, All the participants in this study used their prior experiences to personalize the self-paced, technology-based courses they took. Typically, the participants were comparing their prior experiences
Holton, & Swanson, 1998; Kolb, 1984; Mezirow, 1995). with the new information, looking for similarities


Table 1.1 Principles of Constructivism: Related Research and How Constructivist Principles Apply to This Study
Principles of Constructivism (Fostiot, 1996, p. 29J30) Related Research How Constructivist Principles Apply to This Study
experiences. These big ideas (p. 30) often require previous conceptions to be revised or reorganized in light of new information. Jonassen and Reeves (1996) argued that our knowledge construction process is based on our previous experiences (p. 695). Similarly, generative learning theory is based on two major assumptions: (1) learners are active participants in the learning process and (2) learning is the process whereby learners construct relationships between different parts of new information and between new information and their prior experiences (Grabowski, 1996; Wittrock, 1992). and differences. Additionally, all the participants described their strategies for constructing the big picture.


The five constructivist principles listed above and the traditional definition of learner control
are incompatible (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996; Jonassen, 1991; Lebow, 1993).
The objectivistic research on learner control suggests that learners are often unable
or unwilling to assume greater personal responsibility for learning, so learning
should be externally mediated by instructional interventions. Constructivists argue
that the type of control that is invested in learners in such studies precludes
meaning making. (Jonassen, 1991, p. 13)
In other words, constructivists argue that learners control their own learning process and that
learners always construct their own knowledge. The knowledge construction process is based on the
learners prior experiences (Jonassen & Grabowski, 1993) and it seeks to achieve consensus or agreement
on explaining and understanding specific events or experiences. Thus, constructivists undoubtedly
support learner control but it is learner control of the learning process, not merely the presentation of
information (Jonassen, Wilson, Wang, & Grabinger, 1993).
So, how can a constructivist instructional designer support learner control of the learning
process? Duffy and Cunningham (1996) noted that instruction is the process of supporting knowledge
construction, rather than communicating knowledge (p. 171) and Jonassen (1994) argued that
instructional designers should help learners construct their own meaningful and conceptually functional
representations of the external world (p. 11). In other words, from the constructivist perspective,
instructional designers and learners share responsibility for the effectiveness of the instruction
(Grabowski, 1996) but how can that be done economically?
If designers of self-paced, technology-based instruction want to collaborate with their learners,
if they want to help adult learners construct their own knowledge, and if they want to do this
economically, what guidelines or design principles are available to help them? There is tittle research on
the process of adult learning (Merriam & Caffarella, 1999) and as noted above, there are very few studies
focusing on adult learners using self-paced, technology-based instruction in a corporate setting (Bates et
al., 1995). Similarly, there is a need for empirical research to verify the effectiveness of constructivist-
based instruction for adult learners (Sutherland, 1997).
12


Thus, it seems we know very little about how to apply constructivist learning theory to self-
paced, technology-based instruction for adults in a corporate setting. Given that we are at the forefront
of this research, what is the best way to proceed? Fletcher (1996) suggested that we need to investigate
not only ^instructional technology works, but how it works. In reviewing the self-paced, technology-
based, learner control research, Reeves (1993) recommended, the qualitative, interpretivist paradigm
should precede the quantitative if we are to identify meaningful hypotheses to investigate empirically (p.
44). This research attempted to follow those two recommendations. It was an exploratory, qualitative
study designed to address how adults, in a corporate context, learn from self-paced, technology-based
instruction.
1.4 Research Questions
The major question this research addressed was, In what ways do adults, in a corporate
setting, construct their own knowledge during and after using a self-paced, technology-based course,
which is relevant to their current employment responsibilities? Specifically, how do adult learners use
the following knowledge construction techniques to develop their knowledge?
1. prior experience
2. reflection
3. metacognition
4. generative learning strategies
5. conversations
6. authentic experiences
Additionally, the final question this research addressed was, What features or attributes of
relevant, self-paced, technology-based instruction do adult learners identify as facilitating or supporting
any of the six knowledge construction techniques listed above?
For the purposes of this study, the definition of knowledge construction was the process
whereby learners personalize and/or customize new information; it is the process whereby learners make
13


new information relevant and/or meaningful to themselves (Anderson & Thomas, 1992; Candy, 1991;
Fosnot, 1996; Mezirow, 1997; Roth, 1997).
1.5 Methodology
To address the research questions listed above, this exploratory study focused on the individual,
as the unit of analysis, and used face-to-face, qualitative interviews with volunteers from local
(metropolitan Denver, Colorado), high-tech corporations as the primary data generation strategy. The
research methodology for this study was evaluated and refined on the basis of a pilot study, which was
conducted during August and September 2000. (See chapter 3, section 3.7, for more information on the
pilot study.)
1.5.1 Data Generation Process
There were seven steps in the data generation process:
1. First discussion with the participant using either the telephone or email. The purpose of this
conversation was to briefly explain the research methodology, clarify expectations, answer
questions the participant might have about this study, and collect some demographic
information.
2. Participants took the self-paced, technology-based instruction they each selected on the basis of
its relevance to their career.
3. Second discussion with the participant. This was a face-to-face meeting at the participants
office focusing on the participants knowledge construction process during and immediately
after completing the instruction.
4. Participants recorded their knowledge construction process for at least six days in the journal I
gave them at the end of the second discussion.
5. Third discussion with the participant. This was another face-to-face meeting at the
participants office. This discussion focused on the participants knowledge construction
process since our last meeting. The journal served as the focal point of this discussion.
14


6. Some participants continued recording their knowledge construction process and emailed those
descriptions to me.
7. Periodically, throughout the data generation process, I recorded my reflections about this
research and my own knowledge construction process.
For a complete description of the data generation process, please see chapter 3, section 3.4.
1.5.2 Data Analysis
There were five types of data in this study:
Likert-type scale questions asked during the second and third discussions.
Interview transcripts of the second and third discussions.
A diagram created with Post-It notes by the participants during the second discussion to
describe their knowledge construction process. This diagram was revised during the third
discussion.
The participants journals and email messages describing their knowledge construction
process, and
My journal describing my reflections about this research and my own knowledge
construction process.
These five different types of data complemented each other and provided different perspectives
on the research questions (Marshall & Rossman, 1999; Mason, 1996; Miles & Huberman, 1994; Wolcott,
1990). For additional information about the data analysis, please see chapter 3, section 3.6.
1.6 Summary
In conclusion, this qualitative research study, and the corresponding dissertation, was itself a
knowledge construction project that focused on the knowledge construction process of adults in a
corporate setting. The participants in this study were volunteers from local, high tech organizations
15


who took a self-paced, technology-based course provided by their organization. The participants selected
the course based on its relevancy to their current job responsibilities or their career goals.
The data for this study came from face-to-face discussions, telephone conversations, and email
messages. Participants created and revised a Post-It note diagram and used a journal to document their
knowledge construction process. Additionally, my knowledge construction process was part of the data.
The data generation process started on March 9, 2001 and concluded on June 6, 2001.
This study was important because in 2001 we know very little about how adults, in a corporate
context, construct knowledge, i.e., learn from, self-paced, technology-based instruction. Given that
adults always construct their knowledge (Bopry, 1999; Noddings, 2000) and given that many
corporations use self-paced, technology-based instruction to improve the performance of their
employees (Training Industry Report, 2000), we need to know how to design that instruction such that it
supports, encourages, and perhaps even strengthens the knowledge construction process (Sutherland,
1997).
1.7 Structure of This Dissertation
There are five chapters in this dissertation. The titles and a brief description of each chapter
are listed below.
Chapter 1: Introduction. Provides a general description of the study including the theoretical
background, the research questions, and a summary of the research methodology.
Chapter 2: Review of the Literature. Integrates the constructivist theory of learning with
research in the following areas: adult learning, prior experiences, metacognition and reflection, generative
learning strategies, sociocultural learning, and situated cognition.
Chapter 3: Methodology. Describes the research design, which is qualitative, methods of
data collection and analysis, study participants, and the pilot study. Chapter 3 also describes the inter-
rater reliability study.
16


Chapter 4: Results. Describes the results of this research study by discussing how the
findings address each research question and providing an initial level of interpretation of the findings.
Chapter 5: Discussion and Implications. Explains the findings in terms of the original
problem and research questions. The explanation includes what the findings mean theoretically, as well
as practically. This chapter also includes a brief description of the limitations of this study and
suggestions for future research.
17


Chapter 2
2.0 Literature Review
2.1 Research Questions
The major question this research addressed was In what ways do adults, in a
corporate setting, construct their own knowledge during and after using a self-
paced, technology-based course, which is relevant to their current employment
responsibilities? Specifically, how do adult learners use the following knowledge
construction techniques to develop their knowledge?
1. prior experience
2. reflection
3. metacognition
4. generative learning strategies
5. conversations
6. authentic experiences
Additionally, the final question this research addressed was, What features or
attributes of relevant, self-paced, technology-based instruction do adult learners
identify as facilitating or supporting any of the six knowledge construction
techniques listed above?
For the purposes of this study, the definition of knowledge construction
was, the process whereby learners personalize and/or customize new
information; it is the process whereby learners make new information relevant
and/or meaningful to themselves (Anderson & Thomas, 1992; Candy, 1991;
Fosnot, 1996; Mezirow, 1997; Roth, 1997).
18


2.2 Introduction
A constructivist theory of learning was the conceptual framework for this study. Table 2.1 lists
the major sections of this literature review and summarizes how those topics relate to the constructivist
theory of learning. There are six areas of research summarized in this literature review and listed in the
shaded rows of Table 2.1: (1) adult learning theory, (2) prior experience, (3) metacognition and reflection,
(4) generative learning strategies, (5) sociocultural learning, and (6) situated cognition. The cell under
each of the shaded rows of Table 2.1, summarizes the relationship between constructivism and the
research area listed in the shaded row above the cell.
Table 2.1 Summary of the Relationship between the Literature Review Topics and a
Constructivist Theory of Learning
Adult learning theory (Section 2.1 below)
Constructivism manifests itself in the following four areas of adult learning: experiential learning, self-
directed learning, perspective transformation, and reflective practice (Merriam & Caffarella, 1999).
Additionally, both constructivism and adult learning theory identify prior experience as an important
variable in the learning process (Caffarella, 2001).
Prior experience (Section 2.2.1 below)
How we construct knowledge depends on what we already know; our knowledge construction process
is based on our previous experiences (Jonassen & Reeves, 1996).
Metacognition and reflection (Section 2.2.2 below)
Metacognition, which is the process of self assessment and self correction, is an important characteristic
of constructivist learning environments (Grabinger, 1996). Reflection, which is an interpretative process
of abstracting meaning in an effort to understand reality, undergirds all knowledge construction
(Schraw, 1998, p. 102).
Generative learning strategies (Section 2.2.3 below) ' ; <
Generative learning theory posits that learners, who are active participants in the learning process, work
to construct meaningful understandings of their environment (Grabowski, 1996). Part of this
knowledge construction process is the creation of relationships between different parts of new
information and between new information and the learners prior experiences (Wittrock, 1992). The
19


Table 2.1 Summaiy of the Relationship between the Literature Review Topics and a
Constructivist Theory of Learning
knowledge construction process also consists of generative learning strategies, which are activities that
involve the actual construction of meaning and/or relationships, e.g., outlining or creating metaphors
(Grabowski, 1996).
Sociocultural learning (Section 2.2.4 below)
There are two major views of constructivism. Cognitive constructivism focuses on the learner as an
individual and argues that learning is a process of active cognitive reorgani2ation (Duffy &
Cunningham, 1996). Sociocultural constructivism focuses on the learner as a member of a social system
and argues that learning is a process of acculturation into an established community of practice
(Duffy & Cunningham, 1996). Participation in these communities of practice occurs primarily through
conversations, which take the form of narration, collaboration, and the social construction of
knowledge (Brown & Duguid, 1991).
Situated cognition (Section 2.2.5 below)
An important aspect of constructivism is the concept of situated cognition. From a constructivist point
of view, we cannot separate learning or knowledge from the context in which learners construct and use
that knowledge (Brown et al., 1989; Duffy & Cunningham, 1996; Jonassen, 1991; Wilson, 1993).
As noted in Table 2.1 above, the first section of this literature review (Section 2.2) focuses on
adult learning theory. Specifically, section 2.2 summarizes the history of adult learning theory research.
Research on adult learning that specifically applies to the other five sections of this literature review are
included within each of those sections.
Each of the six major sections in this chapter begins with a brief introduction, which is a
summary of that section and how it relates to a specific research question. Following the summary are a
few reflection questions, which are designed to help you personalize the information in that section.
The major sections in this chapter are:
2.2 Adult learning theory history
20


2.3 Knowledge construction: Learners personalize, customize, and make instructional
information meaningful based on...
2.3.1 prior experiences
2.3.2 metacognition and reflection
2.3.3 generative learning strategies
2.3.4 sociocultural learning
2.3.5 situated cognition
2.4 Cognitive and sociocultural constructivist theories work together
2.5 Summary
2.3 Adult Learning Theory History
2.3.1 Introduction
Serious investigations into the uniqueness of how adults learn began in 1926 with the founding
of the American Association for Adult Education and with the publication of the book entitled The
Meaning of Adult Education (Lindeman, 1926). One of the major foci of both the organization and the
book was the differences between how children and adults learn (Knowles et al., 1998). In 1968,
Knowles used the term andragogy for the first time in an article published in Adult 'Leadership.
Andragogy was defined as the art and science of helping adults learn, in contrast to pedagogy, which was
defined as the art and science of teaching children (Knowles, 1984)].
2.3.2 Reflection Questions
How has your learning changed and evolved since you were in high school? What are the
similarities and differences between the process by which you learn new information and the process by
which your children learned when they were in elementary school? How did your Ph.D. work change
your learning process?
21


2.3.3 Adult Learning Research History
Although there are similarities in learning between adults and children, there are also important
differences (Knowles, 1984; Merriam & Caffarella, 1999; Mezirow, 1993; Pascual-Leone & Irwin, 1998).
In the current adult education literature, adults are.. .more self-directed, self-
reflective, and able to change perspectives than are children or adolescents; they
are also ... more disposed to bring their own life experience to what they leam
and the way they leam. (Pascual-Leone & Irwin, 1998, p. 36)
Bereiter and Scardamalia (1989) compared the long term learning goals of children and adults.
Their research indicated that children see learning as an activity, whereas sophisticated adults see it as a
goal (p. 371). Adults also perceived learning as inherently problematic. This does not mean they saw it
as fraught with difficulties ... but, by treating learning as inherendy problematic, they approached it
within a problem-solving framework." (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1989, p. 372). Children, on the other
hand, showed littie awareness of what needed to be learned.
Merriam and Caffarella (1999) reviewed the adult learning research and concluded that just
being an adult is a critical variable differentiating learning in adulthood from learning in childhood.
The accumulation of experience, the nature of that experience, the developmental
issues adults address, how the notions of development and experience relate to
learning, and how aging affects our memory and the more general neurological basis
for learning all of these differentiate adult learners from children (Merriam &
Caffarella, 1999, p. 392).
Another way to describe the uniqueness of adult learning is to review the various stage theories
of development. Loevinger (1976) described eight stages or milestones of ego development and Perry
(1970) identified nine development positions which described intellectual and ethical development.
Similarly, Kohlberg (1984) developed a four-stage moral development model. All of these models depict
people increasing their capacities, abilities and/or knowledge, as they grow older. With more
experiences, skills, and knowledge, adult learners have more hooks, than do children, on which to
hang new information. They see connections, similarities, or analogies between their vast accumulation
22


of prior experiences and new information. (For additional information about the importance of prior
experiences, see section 2.2.1 below.)
Schraw (1998) summarized the research that compared the metacognitive skills in children with
the metacognitive skills in adults and concluded that there was a clear developmental pattern wherein
people steadily increase their metacognitive skills. Thus, in addition to more prior experiences, adults
have stronger metacognitive skills than do children. (For additional information about the importance of
metacognition, see section 2.3.2 below.)
Researchers studying adult learning have investigated each of the five knowledge construction
strategies listed below. That research is summarized and included in the appropriate knowledge
construction sections below.
2.4 Knowledge Construction
In this study, the operational definition of knowledge construction was, the process whereby
learners personalize and/or customize new information; it is the process whereby learners make new
information relevant and/or meaningful to themselves (Anderson & Thomas, 1992; Candy, 1991;
Fosnot, 1996; Mezirow, 1997; Roth, 1997). Five important techniques for making new information
personally meaningful are:
1. Prior experience: How we construct knowledge depends on what we already know; it depends
on our prior experiences and how we have organized those prior experiences (fonassen, 1991;
Jonassen & Reeves, 1996)
2. Metacognition and Reflection: Metacognition is the self-appraisal and self-management of
cognition (Hacker, 1998) and reflection is the process of organizing, generalizing, and/or
abstracting new information (Von Wright, 1992). Fosnot (1996, p. 29) argued that reflection is
the driving force of learning.
3. Generative learning strategies: Constructing relationships between different parts of new
information and between new information and the learners prior experiences are generative
23


learning strategies. Generative learning strategies also include taking notes or creating diagrams,
flow charts, or outlines (Grabowski, 1996; Wittrock, 1992).
4. Sociocultural learning: The social mediation of individual learning is participatory
knowledge construction (Salomon & Perkins, 1998). Dialogues facilitate further thinking
(Fosnot, 1996), and provide ideas about different ways to accomplish a task [JD3] (Collins et al.,
1991). Additionally, knowledge construction occurs within the social systems of which the
learner is a member. These systems, such as the learners work group, division, organization,
and family, play important roles in the knowledge construction process (Bonk & Kim, 1998).
5. Situated cognition: Context is a critical element of learning the knowledge construction
process and of knowledge. We cannot separate learning or knowledge from the context in
which learners construct and use that knowledge (Brown et al., 1989; Duffy & Cunningham,
1996; Jonassen, 1991; Wilson, 1993). Thus, authentic experiences are critical components of the
learning process.
Each of these five knowledge construction techniques is described in more detail in Sections 2.3.1
through 2.3.5 below.
2.4.1 Prior Experience
2.4.1.1 Introduction
Research consistently demonstrates a strong relationship between prior experience and
performance (Dewey, 1938; Jonassen & Grabowski, 1993; Knowles et al., 1998; Kolb, 1984; Mezirow,
1995). Jonassen and Grabowski (1993) noted that one of the strongest and most consistent individual
difference predictors of achievement is prior knowledge. Research on the effect of this difference is
vast, consistent, significant (p. 420). One of the research questions this study addresses is how do adult
learners use prior experience to construct knowledge after taking self-paced, technology-based
instruction?
24


2.4.1.2 Reflection Questions
During the last training session you attended, did you think about how the new information
was similar to something you already knew? Did you look for short cuts, i.e., This is just like x,
which I already know, so Im ready to move on to the next topic? Alternatively, did the new
information conflict with your prior experiences and you were saying something like, Yes, but_?
2.4.1.3 Prior Experience Research
Prior experiences are the foundation on which adult learners construct new information
(Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1989; Merriam & Caffarella, 1999; Mezirow, 1995; Pillay, 1998) and there is a
growing body of literature, from multiple disciplines, that recognizes the critical impact of adults
experiences on the learning process, particularly in the professional development arena (Knowles et
al, 1998, p. 139). Sutherland (1997, p. 90) noted that a powerful instructional strategy is to draw on the
rich emotional associations of the prior experiences of adult learners and Dewey (1938) posited that
none of us can think about anything without prior experience and information about that experience.
Transformational Learning theory, which is a theory about how adults interpret life experiences, defines
learning as the process of using a prior interpretation to construe a new or revised interpretation of the
meaning of ones experience in order to guide future action (Mezirow, 1997, p. 6).
In their discussion of prior experience and adult learning, Merriam and Caffarella (1999)
reviewed the novice-expert research, which indicated that expertise is domain specific, i.e., being an
expert in one area does not necessarily translate into being an expert in another... (Merriam &
Caffarella, 1999, p. 207). If an experts prior experience fits, or is consistent with, the new information,
the prior experience facilitates and enhances the learning. On the other hand, if the experts prior
experience does not fit, or is inconsistent with the new information, the prior experience inhibits or
obstructs learning. Merriam and Caffarella (1999, p. 207) concluded in helping adults connect their
current experience to their prior knowledge and experience, we need to be knowledgeable about the
25


amount of prior knowledge they possess in a particular area and design our learning activities
accordingly. This was essentially the same assumption used in the ATI research (Cronbach & Snow,
1977), i.e., If we just know enough about our learners, we can design effective, customized instruction
for each of them. This is unrealistic and certainly not economical. We must relinquish our vision of
totally controlling the instructional process and include the adult learner such that together, the learner
and the instructional designer share control of the instruction (Grabowski, 1996). The instructional
designer can help learners make connections between the new information and prior experiences but
ultimately learners must make those connections actively themselves in order for them to be learned
(Grabowski, 1996, p. 914).
In conclusion, prior experience is an integral component of constructivism (Fosnot, 1996;
Jonassen & Grabowski, 1993), the conceptual framework for this study, and adult learning. Prior
experience provides the baseline against which learners compare and contrast new information. The
question is how do adult learners use prior experience to construct their knowledge?
2.4.2 Metacognition and Reflection
2.4.2.1 Introduction
Metacognition and reflection are different but complementary aspects of the knowledge
construction process. Metacognition is a management process where learners take conscious control of
their learning and modify their cognitive activities (Grabinger, 1996). Reflection is an interpretative
process where learners abstract meaning in an effort to understand their reality (Von Wright, 1992). One
of the research questions this study addressed was how do adult learners use metacognition and reflection
to construct knowledge after taking self-paced, technology-based instruction?
2.4.2.2 Reflection Questions
During the last training session you attended, did you say something to yourself like, This is
not what I need; what I need right now is.. or I dont understand this stuff. I need a picture!?
Did you think about or visualize how you were going to use the new information or after the training
26


session did you have a flashback where you thought about something presented in the training
session?
2.4.2.3 Metacognition and Reflection Research
Flavell (1976, p. 232), was the first to describe metacognition. He worked primarily with
children and defined metacognition as, the active monitoring and consequent regulation and
orchestration of [cognitive] processes. Schraw (1998, p. 101) summarized the metacognitive research
focusing on adults and he defined metacognition as a .multidimensional array of self-constructed,
regulatory skills that span a variety of diverse cognitive domains. Metacognition is the process of
regulating and modifying our cognitive activity (Von Wright, 1992); of planning and selecting strategies,
monitoring the progress of learning, correcting errors and changing strategies when necessary (Ridley et
al., 1992; Schraw, 1998). Metacognition consists of statable information about our cognitive processes,
including knowledge of our strengths and weaknesses as a learner, knowledge about learning strategies,
and when and where to use those strategies (Schraw, 1998).
An underlying premise of metacognition is that learners believe they are responsible for what,
when, and where they learn. Tough (1971) reported the results of a study focusing on life-long learning
and then compared those results with similar research conducted not only in the United States, but also
in Canada, Ghana, Jamaica, and New Zealand. Interestingly, Tough found a very consistent pattern of
adult learning. Not only did the average adult spend about 500 hours per year engaged in different
learning projects but 73 percent of adult learning was self planned and only about 10 percent occurred in
classrooms, courses, or conferences. Adults planned their own learning for two major reasons. First,
they wanted to customize the content to their unique needs and goals and second, they wanted the
convenience of controlling their own learning (Tough, 1981).
A study by Goodwin and Dobrovolny (1999) produced similar findings with respect to the
importance of convenience. They surveyed adult learners enrolled in the Graduate School of Public
Affairs (GSPA) at the University of Colorado at Denver (UCD). All these adults had completed at least
27


one distance education course, which was not self-paced, but which was completely online. Learners
perceived their GSPA distance education courses as convenient because there were no on-campus
classes. These adult learners indicated that while they preferred meeting face-to-face with other learners
and an instructor, they were happy to sacrifice that preference in order to have the convenience of online
instruction.
To identify the motivational needs of adult learners, Bohlin, Milheim, and Viechnicki (1990)
surveyed 307 adults participating in continuing education courses. Their results indicated that allowing
flexibility in the instruction and enabling learners to control content and assignments to meet personal
expectations and goals increased their motivation.
Reflection is different from metacognition. It is careful, deliberate thinking that helps us make
sense of what we have experienced and supports our knowledge construction process (Jonassen &
Reeves, 1996). Reflection is the process of comparing our performance with the performance of others
(Collins et al., 1991) and of thinking about implications and consequences of applying the instruction. It
is an interpretative process where learners think about how they can use the instructional information or
how it relates to their experiences. Boud, Keogh and Walker noted that reflection includes
recalling important features of a specific past experience
focusing on ideas and feelings that were part of the original experience,
relating new information to that prior experience,
identifying relationships between different concepts in the new information, and
testing the consistency between the prior experience and the new knowledge (Boud et al.,
1985).
In terms of measuring metacognition and reflection, researchers have used think-aloud
protocols, self-reports (Ridley et al., 1992) and journals (Dennison, 1999; Kottkamp, 1990; Roth, 1997).
Kottkamp (1990) described different types of journal writing for facilitating reflection, i.e., the daily
journal, learning journal, and critical incident journal. The critical incident journal focuses on specific
important experiences, whereas the daily journal and the learning journal are freer flowing and less
structured. In their work with parents, Anderson and Thomas (1992, p. 12) used concept maps to record
28


and measure the construction of new meaning and to show relationships between prior experiences
and new knowledge. Think-aloud protocols, critical incident journals, and Post-It note diagrams were
important components of the data generation strategy of this study (For more information about these
methodologies, please see section 3.4. in the chapter 3.)
In conclusion, metacognition and reflection are cognitive activities learners use to assess their
learning achievements and to think about how they can use new information. Metacognition is the
process of self-assessment and self-correction whereas reflection is an interpretive process where
learners think about how the instructional information relates to their experiences or how it can help
them solve a problem or meet their needs. The question this research addressed was how do adult
learners use metacognition and reflection?
2.4.3 Generative Learning Strategies
2.4.3.1 Introduction
The importance of generative learning strategies in this study was threefold. First, various
generative learning strategies were features of the self-paced, technology-based instruction that study
participants identified as helpful in their knowledge construction process. Second, study participants
described various generative learning strategies as techniques they used to make the new information
personally meaningful. Third, study participants described how they constructed links between different
parts of new information and between new information and their prior experiences. Building these
relationships is an important concept in the generative learning model. Thus, one of the research
questions this study addressed was, how do adult learners use generative learning strategies to construct
knowledge during and after taking self-paced, technology-based instruction?
2.4.3.2 Reflection Questions
During the last training session you attended as a learner, did you take notes? What was the
focus of those notes? Was it to clarify or exemplify an idea or concept? Was it to remind yourself of
how you planned to use a specific concept? Did the trainer or the instructional information emphasize
29


the relationships between various new concepts or did you create those links? Did any of the examples
help you see the relationship between a new concept and any of your prior experiences?
2.4.3.3 Generative Learning Strategies Research
Generative learning strategies are activities that involve the actual creation of meaning and/or
relationships (Grabowski, 1996). These strategies can be simple coding activities, such as note taking,
or complex coding activities, such as creating hierarchies or maps. Outlining, paraphrasing, creating
analogies, and creating metaphors are other examples of generative learning strategies.
There are three categories of strategies (coding, integration, and metacognitive processes) and
within those three categories, there are nine specific generative learning strategies (Grabowski, 1996).
With the exception of underlining, the participants in the study described all of the coding and
integration strategies listed below as beneficial in their knowledge construction process. That is, seven of
the first eight generative learning strategies listed below were part of the answer to the research question,
What features or attributes of relevant, self-paced, technology-based instruction do adult learners
identify as facilitating or supporting their knowledge construction process?
Generative Coding Strategies
1. underlining
2. note taking
3. adjunct questions and pictures
4. organizational strategies such as hierarchies, headings, and concept maps
5. manipulation of objects which includes both physical manipulation, as well as computer
simulation of the manipulation of objects
Generative Integration Strategies
6. imaging and visualization
7. elaboration, i.e., examples including those generated by the learner
8. combination of coding and integration strategies such as summaries and analogies
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Generative Metacognitive Processes
9. metacognitive processes where the learners were taught generative learning strategies
(Grabowski, 1996).
Previous research on generative learning strategies indicated that each of these nine strategies
improves learners performance, as measured by some type of measurement instrument (Grabowski,
1996). These research studies were primarily quantitative, where the independent variable was one or
more types of generative learning strategies and the dependent variable was reading comprehension,
problem solving, recall of facts, etc. (Grabowski, 1996). These studies focused on designing an
instructional intervention, which was a type of generative learning strategy, and then measuring the
effectiveness of that intervention. Additionally, much of the generative learning strategies research was
conducted with participants who were college age or younger (Grabowski, 1996). On the other hand,
this research study was an exploratory, qualitative study designed to investigate how adult learners
construct knowledge; there was no intervention, and the study participants were adults working in three
different international high tech corporations.
Another important aspect of the generative learning model that was important to this study was
the assertion that learning is predicated on learners constructing relationships between different parts of
new information and between new information and the learners prior experiences (Grabowski, 1996).
Therefore, the answer to the research question about how adults use generative learning strategies to
construct knowledge included descriptions of how learners constructed relationships between different
parts of the new information in the instruction and between the new information and their prior
experiences.
Interestingly, there are several important concepts in generative learning theory that are also
important in constructivism. Both emphasize the active role of the learner (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996;
Fosnot, 1996; Grabowski, 1996; Winn & Snyder, 1996; Wittrock, 1992) and the importance of prior
experiences (Grabowski, 1996; Jonassen & Reeves, 1996; Wittrock, 1992). Additionally, both posit that
31


making connections across experiences is an important knowledge construction activity (Fosnot, 1996;
Grabowski, 1996; Wittrock, 1992) and that metacognition is an important part of the learning process
(Duffy & Cunningham, 1996; Grabinger, 1996; Grabowski, 1996).
In conclusion, generative learning strategies help learners construct their own knowledge. They
can be part of the instruction, e.g., questions or examples, or they can be strategies learners initiate, e.g.,
note taking or making connections between different parts of the new information or between new
information and the learners prior experiences. The question this research addressed was how do adult
learners use these generative learning strategies?
2.4.4 Sociocultural Learning
2.4.4.1 Introduction
As adults, we learn not only by ourselves, as individuals, but also with others, e.g., we learn
through discussions with colleagues, friends, and family. We construct knowledge by conversing with
others, analyzing problems together, identifying solutions together, and meeting goals together. We
learn by listening to and telling stories and by collaborating on the same project or trying to solve the
same problem. One of the research questions this study addressed was how do adult learners use
conversations to construct knowledge after taking self-paced, technology-based instruction?
2.4.4.2 Reflection Questions
After the last training session you attended, did you discuss the content of the instruction with
a colleague, friend, or relative? Was the process of verbalizing your thoughts and/or listening to what
your colleague, friend, or relative said helpful in terms of helping you make the content personally
meaningful or useful? How often did your conversations include a story or an example?
2.4.4.3 Sociocultural Learning Research
There are two major views of constructivism; one focuses on the individual and the other
focuses on the sociocultural context (Anderson, Reder, & Simon, 1996; Cobb & Bowers, 1999; Duffy &
32


Cunningham, 1996; Harris & Graham, 1994; Salomon & Perkins, 1998). For the cognitive
constructivists (e.g. Bruer, 1993; Fosnot, 1996; von Glasersfeld, 1996), who focus on the individual, the
mind resides in a persons head. For the sociocultural constructivists (e.g. Brown et al., 1989; Cole, 1996;
John-Steiner & Mahn, 1996; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Resnick, 1991), the mind resides in the individual-
in-social interaction (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996, p. 175). For the cognitive constructivists, learning is
a process of active cognitive reorganization (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996, p. 175), whereas for the
sociocultural constructivists, learning is a process of acculturation into an established community of
practice (p. 175). Lave (1991), a sociocultural constructivist, wrote that learning is situated in social
practice in the lived-in world (p. 67) and Salomon & Perkins (1998) referred to the social mediation of
individual learning as participatory knowledge construction (p. 8).
In the previous three sections of this document, the focus was on the learner as an individual.
Prior experience (section 2.3.1), metacognition and reflection (section 2.3.2), and generative learning
strategies (section 2.3.3) focus on the individual adult learner. In this section and in the following
section, entitled Situated Cognition, the focus is on the learner as part of a social system. Unfortunately,
there is very little research investigating how adults use or benefit from sociocultural learning (Bonk &
Kim, 1998). In the early 1990s, there was a great deal of discussion about learning organizations,
(Senge, 1990; Watkins & Marsick, 1993) and the importance of systems theory in understanding the
complexity of organizations and how to improve their performance. Nevertheless, there is little research
to support the learning organization model (Fitz-enz, 2000; Peters, 1992).
J.S. Brown, chief scientist at Xerox and director of its Palo Alto Research Center, has studied
corporate culture, written workplace ethnographies, and documented organizational learning practices.
His research indicated that corporate employees have difficulty putting information into practice if they
do not have a social context (Brown & Dugid, 2000). His research also indicated that corporate
employees use collaboration, narration, and improvisation to transform information into corporate
knowledge (Brown & Dugid, 2000; Brown & Duguid, 1991).
33


Looking at the research on sociocultural learning in schools, group learning was characterized
by collective problem solving, displaying multiple roles, confronting ineffective strategies and
misconceptions, and providing collaborative work skills (Brown et al., 1989). These characteristics are
applicable to the corporate world, where adults work together to solve problems and meet goals. From a
sociocultural perspective, however, group learning is more than socially shared cognition that results in
the .. .internalization of knowledge by individuals (Lave, 1991, p. 65). Sociocultural constructivists
describe learning as a process of becoming a member of a sustained community of practice (p. 65),
which is a system in which novices become experts. The goal of knowledge and understanding in
communities of practice is viability, not truth, where viability is achieved by obtaining unforced
agreement, within a community, on explanations of specific events or experiences (Rorty, 1991).
Knowledge is not a matter of getting it right but rather acquiring habits of action for coping with
reality (Rorty, 1991, p. 1).
Sociocultural constructivists also note that what we learn is distributed throughout the
collective more than in the mind of any one individual (Salomon & Perkins, 1998, p. 18). This version
of socially mediated learning focuses on learners participating in a social process to construct knowledge
that is shared by the group. Corporate teams, especially those working to solve problems, exemplify this
participatory knowledge construction. They learn a set of collective skills,.. .many of which cannot be
reduced to the skills of any one individual but have to do with the way they work together (Salomon &
Perkins, 1998)
Sociocultural learning occurs through language, i.e., social interaction and conversation (Brown
et al., 1989). Discussing a problem, asking for advice or assistance, or just describing ones reaction to a
training session can each be instructional if, in the process of this conversation, a person constructs
knowledge. Adult learners also discuss their knowledge with people other than their colleagues or
teammates at work. They talk with their significant other, their friends, and their relatives (Bonk &
Kim, 1998) and these conversations facilitate knowledge construction, just as conversations with
colleagues or teammates facilitate knowledge construction.
34


Narration and story telling are types of conversations and are repositories of accumulated
wisdom (Brown & Duguid, 1991, p. 45) that help employees diagnose problems. Knowledge
construction can be facilitated by story telling when the story helps the employee personage or make
new information meaningful. Story telling also functions as a type of verbalization of reflection and as a
generative learning strategy for linking prior experiences with new information (Brown & Duguid, 1991).
In conclusion, this research study focused on how adults, in a corporate setting, learn from self-
paced, technology-based instruction. That focus may initially seem to preclude the application of
sociocultural learning. This research assumed, however, that the learning process, the process of
knowledge construction, does not stop when the learner finishes the self-paced, technology-based
instruction. Rather, this research assumed that learning continues long after the learner finishes the
instruction and that this post-instruction learning includes sociocultural activities, which begin with
conversations. Conversations, with a variety of different people, facilitate knowledge construction. They
not only help adult learners personalize new information, they also help them evolve from novices to
experts, and actively participate in communities of practice. The question this research addressed was
bow do adult learners use conversations to personalize new information, to evolve from novices to
experts, and to achieve viability within a community of practice?
2.4.5 Situated Cognition
2.4.5.1 Introduction
Knowledge construction does not occur in a vacuum; it is always situated in a context. For
example, the self-paced, technology-based instruction the participants in this study selected to take was
purchased or developed, by the corporation for whom the participant works, to meet specific
performance improvement goals the corporation identified as important. As employees of those
corporations, the study participants constructed knowledge partially as a function of the mission, vision,
personality, and financial stability of their employer. Additionally, the context in which knowledge
construction occurs includes authentic experiences for the learner. One of the research questions this
35


study addressed was how do adult learners use authentic experiences to construct knowledge after taking
self-paced, technology-based instruction?
2.4.5.2 Reflection Questions
During the last training session you attended, did you find yourself saying something like,
Well, okay, but in my situation, that doesnt work.? Alternatively, did you think the new information
was relevant but when you tried to apply it, after the training session, it didnt work? Did you customize
or adapt the information to the idiosyncrasies of your situation? Did you find that several days after the
training, your need for or use of the information changed due to something that changed in your
organization?
2.4.5.3 Situated Cognition Research
The principle of the continuity of experience postulated that learning experiences are never
merely isolated events; learners connect the knowledge they learn from current experiences to prior
experiences and to possible future implications (Dewey, 1938). Similarly, the principle of interaction
postulated that an experience is always what it is because of a transaction ... between an individual and
what, at the time, constitutes his environment... (Dewey, 1938, p. 43). Both of these principles are
integral to the situated cognition research, which conceptualizes knowledge as in part, a product of the
activity, context, and culture in which it is developed and used (Brown et al., 1989, p. 32). From a
situated cognition point of view, both knowledge and learning are situated, or embedded, in context
(Brown et al., 1989); we cannot separate the learning process from the context or situation in which the
instruction is delivered.
Jean Lave (1988) conducted a study to investigate the different ways in which adults used
arithmetic when they were shopping, as compared to when they were in school. In the school setting,
Lave reported that the focus was on problem solving, whereas in the shopping setting, the focus was on
problem finding. In addition, problem solving in the shopping setting appeared to be a process of
iteration and transformation, where what the shopper knew and the elements in the setting that might
36


help, were combined or juxtapositioned with what the learner perceived the solution or resolution
should look like. (Lave, 1988).
The role of email in many large corporations is a current example of situated cognition. Many
people in corporate organizations learned to use email because someone in the corporation decided that
email was a good way to communicate and reduce the amount of money spent on paper. Furthermore,
people in these corporations committed corporate suicide if they refused to use email because all of
the official corporate memos and other important documents were no longer distributed in paper. Thus,
adults in these corporations learned to use email within the context of a mild threat and the fear of being
cut-off from the corporate information channels.
From an instructional design point of view, situated cognition requires that instruction be
embedded in realistic or authentic settings. Three such instructional design models are cognitive
apprenticeship, Problem Based Learning (PBL), and anchored instruction. Additionally, experiential
learning and transfer of learning emphasize authentic experiences. In other words, all these instructional
design models emphasize the importance of authentic experiences where learners can apply, use, and
practice new skills and knowledge. The following five paragraphs briefly describe these instructional
design strategies.
Cognitive apprenticeships include authentic experiences by pairing the learner with an expert in
the field. The goal of instruction designed to follow the cognitive apprenticeship model is to
enculturate students into authentic practices through activity and social interaction in a way similar to
... craft apprenticeship" (Brown et al., 1989, p. 37). The cognitive apprenticeship model has been used in
numerous adult training settings, i.e., meteorology (Lamos, 1993, July), engineering, medicine and
educational administration (Merriam & Caffarella, 1999)
PBL includes authentic experiences by asking learners to solve complex, authentic problems,
which have multiple solutions. As a general model, PBL was developed in the mid-1950s for medical
education and has been refined and implemented in over sixty medical schools (Savery & Duffy, 1996).
37


It has also been used in an MBA program (Milter & Stinson, 1994) and in architecture, law, engineering,
and social work (Bould & Feletti, 1991).
In anchored instruction, authentic experiences are provided through anchors, which are
complex problems or cases based on real-world events. The anchored instruction research, conducted
by the Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (CTGV & Vanderbilt, 1990; 1993) indicated that
problem-oriented instruction is more effective than fact-oriented instruction in terms of overcoming
inert knowledge in young students. The anchored instruction research has been conducted exclusively
with K-12 students; there has been no reported research on anchored instruction designed for adults or
corporate training.
The experiential learning model emphasizes the criticality of realistic, authentic, concrete
learning experiences for adults (Boud et al., 1985; Jarvis, 1987; Kolb, 1981; Usher, Brant, & Johnson,
1997). According to Kolb (1984) learning is a continuous process grounded in authentic experiences.
There is also a high degree of concordance between the principles of experiential learning and
constructivism (Sutherland, 1997). Both view learning as the process of creating knowledge, both
believe that prior experiences are critical components of learning, and both assume that learning includes
transactions between the learner and his or her environment.
Another related field of research is learning transfer. Concrete experiences and opportunities
for practice are critical characteristics of learning according to the learning transfer advocates. From a
situated cognition point of view, however, the learning transfer model focuses on the wrong issues
because it separates learning from the context in which is occurs (Wilson, 1993).
Sociocultural learning, discussed in the previous section (section 2.3.4), is an important aspect
of the situated cognition philosophy. Furthermore, sociocultural learning and situated cognition are
both constructivist concepts. Perhaps this section and the previous section should be merged. For the
purposes of this study, however, it was useful to separate sociocultural learning from situated cognition.
That is, after completing their self-paced, technology-based instruction, which, we could argue, was a
sociocultural product, most participants in this study engaged in sociocultural learning of the new
38


information, i.e., they discussed the new information with people in the various different systems of
which they were a member. The knowledge they constructed may have been distributed throughout a
group, of which they were a member, albeit this research did not specifically investigate that type of
sociocultural learning. On the other hand, participants in this study often used conversations to facilitate
their individual learning process. Thus, sociocultural learning that focused on the individual learning
process was an important authentic experience for the participants in this study.
While the authentic experiences the participants in the study described included conversations
with colleagues and mentors, the participants also frequently described authentic experiences they
experienced by themselves, e.g., they often tried to use a new procedure or a new technique during the
instructional event, as well as after it. That is not to say they were applying their new knowledge in a
vacuum. Even when they were working alone, they were still working within a sociocultural system.
Nevertheless, their descriptions of their knowledge construction process were different when they were
working alone to use the new information, as compared to when they were discussing the new
information with others.
Some of the instruction the participants in this study took included authentic examples or
practice exercises. Some did not. All of the participants, however, engaged in some type of authentic use
of the new information after they completed the self-paced, technology-based instruction. This research
investigated the authentic experiences the study participants experienced both during and after they
completed the self-paced, technology-based instruction.
In conclusion, learners always construct their knowledge in a specific and unique context and
this context plays an important role in the knowledge construction process. Neither the knowledge nor
the learning can be separated from that context because there is a symbiotic relationship between them.
When the participants in this study described their knowledge construction process, they also described
significant or personally relevant aspects of the context. The question this research addressed was how do
adult learners use various authentic experiences to construct their knowledge?
39


2.5 Cognitive and Sociocultural Constructivist Theories Work
Together
Cognitive (individual) and sociocultural constructivist theories are complementary, not mutually
exclusive, perspectives (Cobb & Bowers, 1999; Salomon & Perkins, 1998). This research was based on
both theories and the results exemplify how individual and social learning work together in the
knowledge construction process. There are three ways individual and social learning relate to and
enhance each other and these three knowledge construction techniques form a continuum. On one end
of the continuum is individual learning. While nearly all individual learning contains a social component,
the degree of active social mediation varies significantly from one situation to another (Salomon &
Perkins, 1998). Reflection and individual problem solving are important components of the individual
knowledge construction process. At the other end of the continuum is social learning where adults learn
as part of a team or collective. Sometimes, what is learned is distributed across the team such that the
team knows more than any one member of that team (Salomon & Perkins, 1998). Finally, the third way
in which individual and social aspects of learning complement each other is in a symbiotic relationship,
which develops over time. In this situation, both aspects of learning interact to strengthen each other in
a reciprocal spiral relationship (Salomon & Perkins, 1998, p. 18). That is, adults construct knowledge
over time working both individually and as members of various social systems. This is the middle of the
continuum.
The three ways individual and social learning relate to and enhance each other were exemplified
in this research. Adults in a corporate setting, and specifically the participants in this study, took self-
paced, technology-based instruction that was personally relevant to their career goals and/or their
corporate responsibilities. This instructional event was individual learning but it is important to
consider that the instruction was a sociocultural product, representing at least some of the values of the
corporation. Additionally, the knowledge the participants built by taking this instruction was mediated,
facilitated, and customized by the various social systems, in which the study participants participated.
40


The participants in this study also experienced the reciprocal spiral relationship between individual and
group learning as they constructed their knowledge within their unique sociocultural context.
2.6 Summary
As an adult learner, how do you construct your knowledge? How many of the foEowing
techniques do you use?
monitoring and assessing what you know and what you need to know (metacognition)
interpreting the new information and thinking about how you could have used it in the past or
how you can use it in the future (reflection)
linking different parts of new information in ways that make sense to you (generative learning
strategy)
linking parts of new information with your unique prior experiences (generative learning
strategy)
employing coding strategies, such as note taking or creating concept maps, or integration
strategies such as visualization (generative learning strategy)
discussing the new information with a coEeague, friend, or relative (sociocultural learning and
situated cognition)
using the new information (situated cognition)
Previous research indicated that the participants in this study should have used these techniques
to construct knowledge. What the research did not address was how do adults use these techniques and
how instructional designers could help adult learners use these techniques more effectively? This study
attempted to answer those questions. That is, this study addressed the foEowing research questions:
2.7 Research Questions
The major question this research addressed was In what ways do adults construct their own knowledge
during and after using relevant, self-paced, technology-based instruction in a corporate context?
SpecificaEy, how do adult learners use the foEowing knowledge construction techniques to develop their
knowledge?
1. prior experience
2. reflection
3. metacognition
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4. generative learning strategies
5. conversations
6. authentic experiences
Additionally, the final question this research addressed was, What features or attributes of relevant, self-
paced, technology-based instruction do adult learners identify as facilitating or supporting any of the six
knowledge construction techniques listed above?
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Chapter 3
3.0 Methodology
3.1 Research Questions
The major question this research addressed was In what ways do adults, in a
corporate setting, construct their own knowledge during and after using a self-
paced, technology-based course, which is relevant to their current employment
responsibilities? Specifically, how do adult learners use the following knowledge
construction techniques to develop their knowledge?
1. prior experience
2. reflection
3. metacognition
4. generative learning strategies
5. conversations
6. authentic experiences
Additionally, the final question this research addressed was, What features or
attributes of relevant, self-paced, technology-based instruction do adult learners
identify as facilitating or supporting any of the six knowledge construction
techniques listed above?
For the purposes of this study, the definition of knowledge construction
was, the process whereby learners personali2e and/or customize new
information; it is the process whereby learners make new information relevant
and/or meaningful to themselves (Anderson & Thomas, 1992; Candy, 1991;
Fosnot, 1996; Mezirow, 1997; Roth, 1997).
43


There are 10 major sections in this chapter, which describes the research methodology of this
study.
3.1 Overall Approach and Rationale
3.2 Participant and Site Selection
3.3 Self-Paced, Technology-Based Instruction
3.4 Sources of data (Interviews/Discussions)
3.5 Data Recording, Protection, Management, and Disposition
3.6 Reliability and Validity
3.7 Data Analysis Procedure
3.8 Pilot Study
3.9 Institutional Protections
3.10 Benefits to Organizations and Participants
3.2 Overall Approach and Rationale
This study investigated the process by which adults in a corporate setting used their prior
experiences, reflections, metacognition, generative learning strategies, conversations, and authentic
experiences to construct their own knowledge, during and after taking self-paced, technology-based
instruction. The research methodology was qualitative for five reasons. First, the study was exploratory
and descriptive (Marshall & Rossman, 1999). Second, the focus of the study was on a process
(Krathwohl, 1998). Third, the administration of standardized instruments (questionnaires, tests) would
have been obtrusive or impossible in contrast to observations and informal interviews (Krathwohl,
1998). Fourth, context and setting was important (Marshall & Rossman, 1999) and fifth, one of the goals
of this research was to obtain a deeper understanding of the participants lived experiences of the
phenomenon (Marshall & Rossman, 1999, p. 60). Table 3.1 summarizes the research methodology.
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Table 3.1 Data Generation Process
1 ):it:i Gem. union Acliviiy nuraiiou 1 .oration
First discussion 15 to 20 minutes or two or three email messages Participant is in his or her office; I am in my office.
Participant took the instruction Self-paced; variable length of time Participants office or home
Second discussion 1.0 to 1.5 hours and approximately 72 hours after the participant completes the instruction Participants office
Using NVivo, I recorded my reflections about the second discussion and my own knowledge construction process 15 to 20 minutes within 24 hours of the second discussion My office
Participants documented their knowledge construction process in the journal I provided 5 to 10 minutes periodically for at least 6 days Participants office, car, or home.
Third discussion 1.0 to 1.5 hours Participants office.
Using NVivo, I recorded my reflections about the second discussion and my own knowledge construction process 15 to 20 minutes within 24 hours of the second discussion My office
Participant emailed descriptions of his or her knowledge construction process to me. Anytime after the third discussion. Participant is in his or her office; I am in my office.
45


This was an exploratory research study, where the unit of analysis was the individual and the
primary data generation strategy was face-to-face, qualitative interviews (Mason, 1996)). Qualitative
interviews are conversations with a purpose (Burgess, 1988). They are semi- or loosely structured, in-
depth dialogs, characterized by a relatively informal style. They appear to be conversations, rather than
formal question and answer interchanges (Mason, 1996) and data are generated via the interaction
between the researcher and the study participant.
Qualitative interviews have four purposes. First, qualitative interviews are particularly
appropriate for research where the concept being investigated (knowledge construction in this study ) is
not clearly formulated in the participants mind, and/or where the researcher is interested in the process
by which the participants work out and articulate their interpretations and understandings (Mason, 1996).
Both of those criteria applied to this study. The focus of this study was the interpretation, understanding,
metacognition, and reflections of adult learners as they constructed their own knowledge. Additionally,
this knowledge construction process was a personal experience for the participants in this study and one
which they gradually described to me.
The second purpose for qualitative interviews is their use for describing complex interactions
or processes (Marshall and Rossman, 1999). By using qualitative interviews, I could immediately ask
participants to clarify or elaborate on their responses to the discussion questions or their descriptions of
their knowledge construction process.
The third purpose for qualitative interviews is to create a comfortable setting for the
participants. Knowledge construction is a personal process, which the participants in this study may not
have discussed or even thought about prior to our meetings. It was, therefore, important to use a
research methodology that put the participants at ease so they were comfortable describing their
personal knowledge construction process. Additionally, because qualitative interviews are loosely
structured and informal, they can facilitate the development of an egalitarian relationship between the
participant and the researcher. Establishing an egalitarian relationship with my participants allowed the
study participants to lead the discussion and take it in any direction necessary to describe and explain
46


their personal knowledge construction process. Finally, in keeping with the informal, egalitarian theme,
all of the qualitative interviews in this study were called discussions or meetings because these terms
were more familiar to and comfortable for the study participants than the term qualitative interviews.
The fourth purpose for using qualitative interviews is to support the conceptualization of the
researcher as an active participant in the data generation process. Mason (1996) noted that one of the
reasons to use qualitative interviews is to enable researchers to view themselves as active and reflexive
in the process of data generation (p. 41). Furthermore, one of the criteria for strong qualitative research
is for the researchers to engage in critical self scrutiny (Mason, 1996, p. 5) and seek to understand their
role in the research process. One of the sources of data in this study was my journal where I reflected on
my interactions with the participants, conversations with colleagues, the coding process, and my own
knowledge construction process.
3.3 Participant and Site Selection
This section, describing the selection of participants and sites for this research study, explains
the rationale for using a purposive sampling strategy and describes the selection criteria for that sample.
It also explains the recruitment strategies. There are four sub-sections in this Participant and Site
Selection section:
3.2.1 Purposive sample
3.2.2 Source of participants (site selection)
3.2.3 Number of participants
3.2.4 Recruitment strategies
3.2.5 Sampling problems
3.3.1 Purposive Sample
The sampling strategy for this study was purposive, which is a strategy typically used when
the research necessitates including specific characteristics or criteria to develop and test a theory and the
corresponding explanations (Mason, 1996; Morse, 1991). The focus of this study was to investigate how
47


adult learners, in a corporate setting, construct knowledge, during and after selecting and taking a self-
paced, technology-based course. The primary purpose of that course needed to be to improve employee
performance and the course needed to be relevant to the participant's career or current professional
responsibilities. Additionally, the participants in this study needed to be articulate, have the time to meet
with me and keep a journal, and be motivated to volunteer to participate (Morse, 1994). Thus, this study
required specific participant characteristics.
Samples for qualitative research tend to be purposive, rather than random (Miles & Huberman,
1994). Furthermore, purposive samples are not statistical or probability samples, which are used to
generate empirically representative samples (Mason, 1996). In fact, individuals in a purposive sample
may or may not be representative of the group to whom the researcher wishes to generalize (Krathwohl,
1998). Since this research was an exploratory and descriptive study, which was not designed to include
statistical comparisons or evaluate an intervention, the degree to which the findings of this study can be
generalized are, admittedly, limited. Additional research on how adults, in a corporate setting, use various
knowledge construction techniques is undoubtedly necessary. For more information on the limitations
of this study, see section 5.5.
In addition to the problem of generalization, purposive sampling is often criticized for being ad
hoc, vague and/or merely convenient. To address these criticisms, Mason (1996) suggested that
researchers who use purposive sampling have a specific sampling strategy and be able to explain the logic
of that strategy. Table 3.2 explains the selection criteria for the purposive sample used in this study.
Another major criticism of volunteer, purposive samples is that they are biased. Morse (1991) argued
that this criticism is valid these methods facilitate a certain type of informant with a certain knowledge
being included in the study, but that is the purpose and intent of using those methods. This is ideal_____
(p. 138)
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Table 3.2 Selection Criteria for the Purposive Sample

Criteria for selecting study participants. Rationale
Each participant had to be an employee of a corporation that offered at least one self-paced, technology-based instructional course. The goal of this study was to describe and explain the knowledge construction process of adult learners, in a corporate setting, who had recently taken a self-paced, technology-based course. I did not provide a self-paced, technology-based course because, as noted in the second row of this table, it was important for the course to be relevant or applicable to each participants career goals or responsibilities. Thus, participants selected a course, offered by their corporation, which was personally relevant to them.
The course the Courses that help employees improve their on-the-job performance or
participants took had to be relevant or applicable to their professional career goals or responsibilities. achieve their career goals is relevant instruction. When employees are taking relevant instruction, the learning experience is authentic and therefore, knowledge construction easily occurs (Salomon & Perkins, 1996; Savery & Duffy, 1996). Given that the focus of this study was knowledge construction, it was important that participants took relevant courses so they could easily construct knowledge.
The purpose of the self- paced, technology-based instruction the Courses that are relevant to employees are courses that will help them improve their performance on the job. If the information in the course is just nice to know, or applies to responsibilities the learner will not
participants took had to be to improve the performance of the employees of the perform in the near future, it does not help learners improve their current on-the-job performance, it is not relevant, and therefore, knowledge construction is more difficult for the learner.
corporation.
The course had to be a Corporations are moving away from group-paced, lecture-based courses
self-paced, technology- based course, not a traditional, group-paced, (Dobbs, 2000). The future for most corporate training is self-paced, technology-based instruction. It is important to understand how to design this instruction to support and facilitate the learning, i.e.,
49


Table 3.2 Selection Criteria for the Purposive Sample

Criteria for selecting study participants Rationale
lecture-based course. knowledge construction, of adult learners.
Approximately the same numbers of male and In order to generalize at least some of the findings of this study to some corporations, both genders needed to be represented in the sample.
female participants were included in this study.
Participation was voluntary. Participants were not paid for their involvement in this study nor did they receive university credit. Most of the participants heard about this study from their manager or supervisor but none of the managers required anyone to participate.
Participating corporations needed to allow the The focus of this study was how adults construct knowledge, in a corporate setting, after selecting and taking a self-paced, technology-
participants to participate in this study during their normal working hours. based course that was relevant to their professional career. This course was offered to them by their corporation and sometimes was only available to them from their office computer. That is, access to some of the courses was restricted so participants could only access their selected course from their office computer. The participants took their courses during normal working hours and met with me twice, over the course of approximately 21 days, to discuss their knowledge construction process. These two meetings also occurred during normal working hours. Finally, the participants kept a journal and sent me email messages describing their knowledge construction process. Some of this writing occurred while the participants were at work. Thus, the participating corporations were, essentially, donating the time the participants used to participate in this research.
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Another criteria for the sampling methodology in a qualitative research study is that it must be
both appropriate and adequate (Morse, 1991). Appropriateness is the degree to which the selection of
the study participants and the criteria for that selection is consistent with the purpose of the study.
Adequacy is the sufficiency and quality of the data generated. The sampling strategy described in Table
3.2 meets the appropriateness criteria. For more information about the sufficiency and quality of the
data generated in this study, please see Sections 3.2.3, Number of Participants, and 3.2.5, Sampling
Problems, below.
3.3.2 Source of Participants
Participants in this study came from three different high tech corporations who have offices
in the Denver metropolitan area. Each of these three corporations offered numerous self-paced,
technology-based courses to their employees and all of these courses were designed to improve
employee performance on the job. All the participants were given the approval to participate in this
study during their normal working hours.
There were two advantages of conducting this research with employees from three different
organizations. First, using multiple corporations spread out the cost. Managers donated up to five hours
of time for each participant in this study. Just the labor costs, not the lost productivity costs, of that five
horns, is approximately $500 (5 hours x $100/hour). Working with two or three employees from a
specific corporation cost that corporation between $1,000 and $1,500. That was easier for the
organizations to justify than six or seven employees, which would cost between $3,000 and $3,500.
The second advantage of using employees from different organizations was that the context,
i.e., the organizational culture, current corporate initiatives, reward structures, and the self-paced,
technology-based courses are different. This diversity was beneficial for this research because the focus
of this study was to investigate how adult learners construct knowledge during and after taking a self-
paced, technology-based course. Given that there were significant differences in context but themes
51


emerged across the study participants, the results of this research were stronger and more generalizable
(Krathwohl, 1998; Mason, 1996).
3.3.3 Number of Participants
Morse(l994) argued that different types of qualitative research questions require different types
of research strategies. For example, research questions that focus on the meaning of a phenomenon
should probably use a phenomenological research strategy. This study attempted to answer the question
how do adults, in a corporate setting, construct their own knowledge during and after taking a self-
paced, technology-based course? Knowledge construction was defined as the process whereby learners
personalize and/or customize new information; it is the process whereby learners make new information
relevant and/or meaningful to themselves. In other words, the focus of this study was on how learners
make new information, from a self-paced, technology-based course, personally meaningful. This study,
accordingly, had a phenomenological perspective.
The purpose of phenomenology is to describe experiences (Anderson, 1991; Bergum, 1991;
Cohen & Ornery, 1994; Morse, 1994) and the interview questions center around meaning (What is the
meaning of an experience?) and analogy (What is it like to experience? (Ray, 1994, p. 128). The
phenomenological research method includes audiotaped conversations and written descriptions of
personal experiences (Morse, 1994). The focus of this study was on how adults personalize or make
meaningful new information, after taking a self-paced, technology-based course. The discussion
questions focused on asking participants to describe how they personalized or made the new information
meaningful and the research method was to audiotape both face-to-face conversations with each
participant and to have the participants keep a journal describing any experiences where they thought
about, talked about, or used the new information.
Phenomenological research requires at least six participants (Morse, 1994), depending on the
quality of the data. The more useable data a researcher obtains from each participant, the fewer number
of participants are needed (Morse, 2000). There were seven participants, all volunteers, in this study.
52


None of them dropped out. Using NVivo, I coded 2,618 passages. The major codes I used most
frequently were metacognition (602 passages), reflection (476 passages), prior experiences (273 passages)
and authentic experiences (265 passages). I thought these data were adequate not only because there was
a lot of it (quantity) but also because the sufficiency and quality of the data were strong. I did not think
there were any thin areas and I periodically felt that during my meetings with the last two participants,
I was confirming patterns and themes, not discovering them. Thus, I think the data are robust enough
to support the conclusions described in chapter 5. The test for adequacy of a sample is was saturation
achieved and does the theory make sense? (Morse, 1991, p. 135). I thought the answer to both questions
was yes.
3.3.4 Recruitment Strategies
Four employees from one corporation volunteered to participate in this research after seeing a
message I posted on a listserve to which they belonged. One of those volunteers participated in the pilot
study and three of them participated in the full study. A professional colleague provided the name of a
manager in the second corporation who described this research to her team. Two people from her team
volunteered for the pilot study and three people from another team volunteered for the full study.
Another professional colleague provided the name of a manager in a third corporation who sent an email
message to all the members of his team explaining this research. One person volunteered after reading
this mangers email message and she participated in the full study.
3.3.5 Sampling Problems
There were a few problems with the sample I used in this study. First, with one exception, all
the participants were volunteers whom I did not know, i.e., secondary selection. Primary selection,
where the researcher has a relationship with potential participants and knows which ones will be helpful,
reflective, and articulate is generally used in phenomenological research (Morse, 1991). I knew one of
the participants prior to conducting this research. The other five were unknown to me until they
53


volunteered. Nevertheless, all of the participants were helpful, reflective, and articulate and each of them
contributed in important ways to this research.
A second problem with the sampling strategy for this study was that I did not turn anyone
down who had the time to participate and who could locate a self-paced, technology-based course that
was relevant to their current employment responsibilities or their professional goals. There were three
volunteers who either did not have the time or could not locate a relevant course so they did not
participate. There was also an organisation that volunteered to participate but their employees were not
available until after I completed the data generation phase of this research.
3.4 Self-Paced, Technology-Based Instruction
As noted in Table 3.2 above, the organizations who volunteered to participate in this research
needed to offer at least one self-paced, technology-based instructional course to their employees and the
purpose of this course needed to be to improve employee performance on the job. The only other
criterion was that the participants in this study needed to take a self-paced, technology-based course that
they perceived to be relevant to their current employment responsibilities and/or their career goals.
Table 3.3 lists the data I collected to describe each of the self-paced, technology-based courses
taken by the participants and to describe the context within which the participants were working when
they selected and completed the course. Given that context was an important issue in this research, I
collected financial data and information about the current focus and problems in each corporation, in
addition to specific information about each course.
54


Table 3.3 Data Collected on Each Course and Organization
1. The industry and size of organization, e.g., large, international telecommunications company.
2. The current organizational focus and/or problems that effect or impact the participants use of
the information in the course.
3. The participants job responsibilities and how those relate to the participants decision to take this
instruction.
4. Did the participant take the instruction during business hours?
5. Was there any email or phone support for the instruction?
6. The number of days that elapsed between the time the participant completed the instruction and
out second discussion (first face-to-face meeting).
7. Amount of time learners should expect to spend on this course (typically, provided in the
directions for the course) and the participants estimate of how much time it actually took to complete
the course.
8. The participants evaluation of the course on two Likert-type scale questions. One question
asked participants to rate the usefulness of the course, on a scale of one to five, and the other
question asked the participants to rate the enjoyableness of the course the same scale.
9. The instructional objectives of the course.
10. Size and overall structure of the course.
11. Examples of practice questions
12. Anything that addresses any of the six knowledge construction techniques this research
investigates, i.e. prior experiences, metacognition, reflection, generative learning strategies,
conversations or dialogs, authentic experiences.
55


The descriptions of each self-paced, technology-based course and the context within which the
participant worked when taking this course are in Appendix A.
3.5 Sources of Data
I had one telephone or email discussion and two face-to-face discussions with each participant.
Participants kept a journal to record their knowledge construction experiences between the first and
second face-to-face discussions. They also sent me email messages containing additional entries they
made in their journal after our second face-to-face meeting. These activities spanned approximately four
weeks for each participant. Table 3.1 above summarized the entire data generation process. Table 3.5
below shows the discussion questions/topics for the second discussion and Table 3.6 shows the
questions/topics for the third discussion. Table 3.7 shows the relationship between the discussion
questions, listed in Tables 3.5 and 3.6, the research questions this study addressed, and the constructivist
theory of learning, which is the conceptual framework for this research (discussed in chapter 1).
There are seven sub-sections in this Sources of Data section:
3.4.1 First discussion
3.4.2 Participant takes self-paced, technology-based instruction
3.4.3 Second discussion
3.4.4 Third discussion
3.4.5 Email follow up
3.4.6 My reflective journal
3.4.7 Relationship between data, research questions, and constructivism
3.5.1 First Discussion
The first discussion occurred before the participants started the self-paced, technology-based
course they selected. The purpose of this short conversation was to briefly explain the research
methodology and the Consent Agreement, clarify expectations, answer any questions the participant
56


might have about this study, and collect some demographic information, i.e., education, gender, age, and
how the participant learned about this study. I also asked each participant
the title of the self-paced, technology-based instructional course the participant selected,
how the participant thought the instruction related to his or her responsibilities in this
corporation and/or his or her professional goals,
when the participant planned to complete the instruction, and
for a date when we could meet face-to-face to discuss the participants initial learning
experience.
This conversation took approximately 15 to 20 minutes on the telephone. Sometimes, this
discussion was conducted by email. At the end of the discussion, I asked the participants to insure that
our second discussion (first face-to-face meeting) was either in a room where we could review the
instruction or to bring something to that meeting to help them recall the instruction. This might be a
workbook, their notes, a job-aid that goes with the instruction, etc. The results of the pilot study
indicated that participants needed something to help them recall specifics about the instruction during
our second discussion. For more information about the pilot study, please see section 3.7.
3.5.2 Participant Takes Self-paced, Technology-based Instruction
After the initial telephone or email discussion, the participants completed the self-paced,
technology-based course they selected. I gathered no data during the time the participant was taking the
instruction because that required the participant to engage in significant multi-tasking, i.e., attending to
the content of the instruction, constructing knowledge, and talking to me. Multi-taking is sometimes
stressful (Weil & Rosen, 1997) and that potentially could have disrupted the knowledge construction
process of the participant.
3.5.3 Second Discussion
The second discussion, which I audiotaped, was conducted approximately 54 hours (see Table
3.4) after the participants completed their self-paced, technology-based course. This discussion, which
57


took approximately 50 minutes (see Table 3.4), started with the participants signing the Consent
Agreement, which I emailed to them before this meeting.
Table 3.4 Times for Second Discussion
Participant Time between course completion and 2nd discussion a Duration of 2nd discussion
Connie 24 hours 60 minutes
Don 60 hours 45 minutes
Joan 24 hours 45 minutes
Kathy 3 hours 75 minutes
Lynn 100 hours 45 minutes
Ann 36 hours 45 minutes
Bob 132 hours 40 minutes
Mean times 54 hours 50.7 minutes
a I calculated these times by asking participants, When did you finish the
instruction? and then counting the number of hours between the day the
participant completed the course and the day of the second discussion.
The second discussion focused on the participants knowledge construction process during and
immediately after completing the course. Participants described their knowledge construction process
using both verbal and visual descriptions. During the verbal (first) part of the discussion, I asked a
sequence of 12 questions (see Table 3.5) focusing on three topics:
1. the participants opinion of the instruction
2. how the participant personalized the new information and made it meaningful, and
58


3. the strategies the participant used to determine his or her understanding of the
instructional content.
Four of the ten questions used a Likert-type rating scale. The other questions were open-ended
and designed to elicit a robust discussion.
The visual (second) half of the second discussion (see Table 3.5) began with a brief explanation
of how we can visually represent the ideas the participant described in the first part of the discussion
(Anderson & Thomas, 1992). This was not new information to the participant, as I briefly explained this
idea during the first discussion. I then provided one sheet of flipchart paper and two different colors of
3 x 3 Post-It notepads. The yellow Post-It notes had the word instruction written in the lower left
corner and the blue Post-It notes had the word personalization written in the lower left corner. The
reason for dual coding of the Post-It notes, using both labels and colors, was to help the participants
easily and quickly create their diagram. The pilot study indicated that participants needed this structure.
The participants referred to the self-paced, technology-based course they took while they created the
instruction portion of the Post-It note diagram.
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Table 3.5 Questions And Topics For Second Discussion
First half of the
second
discussion
(verbal
descriptions)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
Second discussion
On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being extremely useful, how useful was this instruction?
On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being very enjoyable, how enjoyable was this instruction?
How much time did you spend on this instruction?
What, if anything, in the instruction helped you make the new information meaningful or relevant?
How did these things help you?
(If appropriate) Can you prioritize those things? That is, on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being extremely helpful, how
would you rate each of the instructional strategies you just identified as helpful in making the new information
meaningful?
Did you use any special strategies or objects to personalize this new information or make it meaningful? For
example, did you think about how the instruction relates to things you already know? If yes, please describe those
ideas?
Did you think about how you might use this information tomorrow or the next day? If, yes, please describe those
ideas?
Did you take any notes? If yes, what criteria did you use to decide what to write down? How did these strategies
help you personalize the information? Again, on a scale of 1 to 5, how helpful was each of them?
How did you know when you had learned something in this instruction?
Did you monitor your learning? For example, how did you decide to read a sentence, a paragraph or a section a
second or third time?
How did you decide when to take a break? How did you decide when to return to the instruction after putting it


Table 3.5 Questions And Topics For Second Discussion
Second discussion aside for a while?
Second half of Now Id like to see if we can create a visual description of what you just told me. There are many different
the second ways to diagram information. The strategy Id like to use today is simple: Post-It notes and a pencil. Let me first
discussion
(visual descriptions and talk- describe the five steps in the process and then we will work on your diagram. First, here is a pad of blue Post-Its. They are labeled instruction. I would like you to use one blue Post-It for each of the main ideas or concepts in the course. Please use a separate Post-It for each main concept or idea. We
aloud ) can start with three or four concepts and add more later. Second, once you get three or four topics on three or four Post-Its, we will put them on this flip-chart paper and connect them with arrows to show how you relate the concepts or topics to each other. As you construct your diagram, please tell me what you are thinking or what you are trying to get the diagram to show. Third, look at the instructional Post-Its on the diagram and use the yellow Post-It notes, which are labeled personalization, to record how you personalized each concept or topic. Use one Post-It for each of the different ways you personalized something in the instruction and then add your yellow Post-Its to the diagram you created on the flip- chart paper. Use arrows to show how the instructional concepts and your personalization techniques are related to each other. As you are adding the yellow Post-Its to your diagram, please tell me what you are thinking or what you are trying


Table 3.5 Questions And Topics For Second Discussion
Second discussion
to get the diagram to show. Okay? Any questions? At this point, the participant constructed the diagram, starting with the instructional content and then adding personalization techniques. This diagramming activity and think-aloud protocol continued until the participant said something like, I cant think of anything else. in response to a probing question such as, What else?' The last part of the second discussion focused on setting up the third discussion. I also give the participant a journal with the following instructions. Please use either this journal to record how you continue to personalize this new information. For example, as you drive home this afternoon or tomorrow morning in the shower, you may think of ways to use this new information or how it relates to something you have done in the past. Or sometime in the next few days, you may try to use this new information and in so doing learn something new about it. Or, you may talk to a colleague or friend about this new information and this discussion may produce new insights or new perspectives on this information. So, please use the journal to document how you personalized this new information or made it meaningful. The next time we meet, we will discuss your journal entries and update your diagram. After our next meeting, I will take


Table 3.5 Questions And Topics For Second Discussion
Second discussion '
your diagram with me and make a copy of your journal entries. Any questions? Now, Id like to set up another time to meet with you. When would be a good time to get together?


The Post-It note diagrams documented how the participants personalized the new information.
This diagram was a type of map consisting of nodes and arrows, where the nodes were instructional
topics or personali2ation experiences and the arrows identified the relationships between the various
nodes. Appendix B provides a photograph of one of the Post-It note diagrams after it was revised
during the third discussion. The Post-It note diagram provided a different perspective on the knowledge
construction process (Mason, 1996) and complemented the verbal description. This strategy of
answering the same research questions but in different ways or from different angles (Mason, 1996,
p.25) is a technique for exploring the knowledge construction process in a multi-faceted way. It also
strengthens the reliability of the data by demonstrating that knowledge construction is a multi-
dimensional process, which can be described in many different ways.
Another reason to build these Post-It note diagrams was that the knowledge construction
process is generally a non-verbal, perhaps even unconscious process. Having the research participants
create pictures or drawings can be a very creative way of accessing.. .experiences which are non-
verbalized, or difficult.. .to verbalize (Mason, 1996, p. 54). Additionally, by asking participants to
diagram their knowledge construction process, they may, in fact, have been constructing knowledge real
time (Fisher, Wandersee, & Moody, 2000; McAleese, Grabinger, & Fisher, 1999). This was both an
advantage and a disadvantage. The advantage was witnessing and recording real time knowledge
construction. The disadvantage was that while this diagram was not an intervention or generative
learning strategy for improving comprehension or retention, the process of creating this diagram may
have catalyzed the knowledge construction process for some study participants and that may have
created a generalizability problem for this research. The Post-It note diagrams were critical, however,
given that this was a descriptive study in which the primary research question was, In what ways do
adults, in a corporate setting, construct their own knowledge during and after taking a relevant, self-
paced, technology-based course? These diagrams revealed important knowledge construction strategies
used by the participants and thus, there were more benefits than drawbacks to including the diagrams in
the data generation methodology.
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3.5.4 Third Discussion
The third discussion occurred approximately 21 days after the second discussion (See Table
3.6). The primary purpose of the third discussion, which took approximately 30 minutes (See Table 3.6),
was to discuss how the participant had thought about, talked about, or used the instructional content
since the second discussion, thereby continuing the knowledge construction process.
Like the second discussion, there was both a verbal and a visual part of the third discussion (see
Table 3.7). The verbal (first) part of the discussion consisted of three questions focusing exclusively on
the participants knowledge construction process since our last meeting. The visual (second) part of the
discussion focused on the entries in the participants journal.
Table 3.6 Times for Third Discussion
Participant Time between 2nd and 3rd discussions Duration of 3rd discussion
Connie 41 days a 30 minutes
Don 10 days 35 minutes
Joan 7 days 40 minutes
Kathy 14 days 45 minutes
Lynn 9 days 30 minutes
Ann 23 days b 20 minutes
Bob 42 days c 20 minutes
Mean times 20.8 days 31.4 minutes
a Connie rescheduled our third discussion several times due a severe illness. b Ann rescheduled our third discussion once because she had no entries in her journal the day before our original meeting date.c Bob was out of town for two weeks and then rescheduled our third discussion once because he had no entries in his journal the day before our original meeting date.
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Table 3.7 Questions and Topics for Third Discussion
Third discussion
First half of the 1. What events, tasks, conversations, or activities have you experienced since our last meeting that helped you
third discussion personalize this information or make it meaningful?
(verbal descriptions) 2. Other than the diagram you created in our last meeting and the journal, did you use any special strategies to help you personalize this new information? 3. Did you recall anything from the instruction that helped you make this information meaningful?
Second half of the Okay, now Id like you to explain to me each of your journal entries. In the ensuing discussion, the participant
third discussion explained their knowledge construction process since our last meeting.
(visual descriptions and talk-aloud) Good. Now lets revise the Post-It note diagram to reflect your journal entries; Here are some more yellow Post-Its, labeled personalization. Use one Post-It for each of your journal entries. Then add each Post-It to the diagram and draw an arrow to show how the journal entry is related to the instructional content and/or other personalization experiences you have had. This process continued until the participant had one yellow Post-It note for each journal entry. Okay, now I need to make a copy of your journal entries and if you want a copy of the diagram, we need to do that. Before we make the copies, however, I want to remind you that the last step in this study is for you to continue to monitor how you personalize the instruction over the next week or 10 days. Please send me a few email messages describing how you continue to personalize the instruction. Ill send you a few messages to remind you. Thank you!


3.5.5 Email Follow Up
Before conducting the pilot study (see Section 3.7 below), I was uncertain if two face-to-face
discussions would be sufficient for studying the process of knowledge construction. The pilot study
suggested that while two face-to-face discussions were adequate, some participants enjoyed documenting
their knowledge construction process and wanted to continue for at least another week. Thus, having
participants email me descriptions of their knowledge construction process after our third discussion was
another source of data in this study. Table 3.8 shows the number of email messages each participant sent
me after my third discussion with each of them.
Table 3.8 Number of Email Messages Received
Participant Number of Email Messages Sent After
the Third Discussion
Connie 0
Don 1
Joan 1
Kathy 2
Lynn 0
Ann 2
Bob 0
3.5.6 My Reflective Journal
In this study, I was constructing knowledge while studying the process by which the
participants constructed knowledge. While this situation was certainly not unique to this study, it was
67


important in this study because being aware of my own knowledge construction process helped me
understand and interpret the data.
I kept a reflective journal during the pilot study and during the full study. (For more
information about the pilot study, see section 3.7 below.) They were both beneficial. I recorded
lessons learned and documented my own knowledge construction process in a joumal-like format. For
the pilot study, I did not create a Post-It note diagram but I did create a Post-It note diagram for the full
study.
Issues I addressed in my reflective journal included:
my knowledge construction process
comments on the knowledge construction process of the participants
possible changes in the discussion topics or issues that needed to be considered for
subsequent discussions (documented in Tables 3.5 and 3.7)
possible changes to the purposive sampling guidelines (documented in Table 3.2
3.5.7 Relationship Between Data, Research Questions, and
Constructivism
Tables 3.9 and 3.10 below show the relationship between the (a) data each participant and I
generated, (b) research questions this study was designed to address, and (c) constructivist theory of
learning, which was the conceptual framework for this study. Specifically, Table 3.9 shows the alignment
between the conceptual framework, the first six research questions, and the data sources in this study.
Table 3.10 shows the alignment between the conceptual framework, the last research question, and the
data sources.
68


Table 3.9 Relationship Between Research Questions 1 through 6, Sources of Data, and the Constructivist Theory of Learning
Research Question: In what ways do, adult learners use prior experience, reflection, metacognition, generative learning strategies,
conversations, and authentic experiences to construct their own knowledge? s;
Sources of Data
Discussion Questions Discussion Topics Constructivist
(Verbal descriptions of Knowledge (Visual descriptions of Knowledge Theory of Learning
Construction) Construction)
Second discussion The visual description (second) half Prior Experience
I asked participants the following questions to of both the second and third How we construct knowledge depends on
elicit verbal descriptions of their knowledge discussions focused on think-aloud what we already know, our previous
construction process: descriptions and descriptions written experiences... (Jonassen & Reeves, 1996, p.
Did you use any special strategies to personalize this new information or make it meaningful? For example, did you think about how the instruction relates to things you already know? on Post-It notes of the various strategies participants used to construct knowledge. The journal was another source of information about the participants knowledge construction process. Participants 695). Metacomition Knowledge construction is also facilitated by metacognition (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996; Grabinger, 1996; Von Wright, 1992), which is the process of self-assessment and self
Did you think about how you might use used the journal to record their correction.
this information tomorrow or the next knowledge construction process Psrflection
day? between our second and third Reflection, which is an interpretative process
Did you take any notes? If yes, what meetings and after our third meeting. of abstracting meaning in an effort to j 4..j id xi.. c j .a.:. .. c_ .. _n


Table 3.9 Relationship Between Research Questions 1 through 6, Sources of Data, and the Constructivist Theory of Learning
Research Question: In what ways do adult learners use prior experience, reflection, metacognition, generative learning strategies, conversatipns, and authentic experiences to construct their own knowledge? ,
Sources of Data
Discussion Questions . Discussion Topics Constructivist
(Verbal descriptions of Knowledge (Visual descriptions of Knowledge Theory of Learning
Construction) Construction)
criteria did you use to decide what to understand reality, is the foundation for all
write down? How did these strategies knowledge construction (Schraw, 1998).
help you personalize the information? Generative learning
On a scale of 1 to 5, how helpful were Generative learning strategies such as note
each of them? ' taking, paraphrasing, and creating analogies
How did you know when you had are another set of strategies that support
learned something in this instruction? knowledge construction (Grabowski, 1996; Wittrock, 1992). Creating relationships
Did you monitor your learning? For between different parts of new information
example, how did you decide to read a and between new information and prior
sentence, a paragraph, or a section a experiences is another generative learning
second or third time? strategy. (Wittrock, 1992).
How did you decide when to take a Conversations
break? How did you decide when to To some degree, learning is always socially j: a._ j /c ,1 o "n ,.i : d i


Table 3.9 Relationship Between Research Questions 1 through 6, Sources of Data, and the Constructivist Theory of Learning
Research Question: In what ways do adult learners use prior experience; reflection, metacognition, generative learning strategies, conversations, and authentic experiences to construct their own knowledge? "
Sources of Data
Discussion Questions (Verbal descriptions of Knowledge Construction) Discussion Topics (Visual descriptions of Knowledge Construction) Constructivist Theory of Learning
return to the instruction after putting it
aside?
Third discussion
I asked participants the following questions to
elicit verbal descriptions of their knowledge
construction process:
What events, tasks, conversations, or
activities have you experienced since our
last meeting that helped you personalize
this information or make it meaningful?
On a scale of 1 to 5, how helpful was
each of these? How did they help you?
Other than the diagram you created in
mediated (Salomon & Perkins, 1998) and
thus, conversations are another knowledge
construction strategy (Duffy & Cunningham,
1996; Fosnot, 1996; John-Steiner & Mahn,
1996; Salomon & Perkins, 1998). From a
sociocultural constructivist point of view
learning is a process of acculturation into an
established community of practice (Duffy &
Cunningham, 1996). Participation in these
communities of practice involves narration,
collaboration, and social construction of
knowledge (Brown & Duguid, 1991).
Authentic Tixpemnces
From a constructivist point of view, we can


Table 3.9 Relationship Between Research Questions 1 through 6, Sources of Data, and the Constructivist Theory of Learning
Research Question: In what ways do adult learners use prior experience, reflection, metacognition, generative learning strategies, conversations, and authentic experiences to construct their own knowledge?
Sources of Data
Discussion Questions Discussion Topics Constructivist
(Verbal descriptions of Knowledge (Visual descriptions of Knowledge ' Theory of Learning
Construction) Construction)
our last meeting and your journal, did you not separate learning or knowledge from the
use any special strategies to personalize context in which learners construct and use
this new information? On a scale of 1 to that knowledge (Brown et al., 1989; Duffy &
5, how helpful were each of those? How Cunningham, 1996; Jonassen, 1991; Wilson,
did they help you? 1993). Thus, context is an important element
Yimail discussion in the knowledge construction process.
I asked participants to continue
documenting their knowledge
construction process for seven to ten
days after our third discussion and to
email me those descriptions.


Table 3.10 Relationship Between Research Question 7, Sources of Data, and the Constructivist Theory of Learning
Research Question: What features or attributes of relevant, self-paced, technology-based instruction do adult learners identify as facilitating
or supporting their knowledge construction process?
Sources of Data
Discussion Questions Discussion Topics . Constructivist
(Verbal descriptions of Knowledge (Visual descriptions of Theory of Learning
Construction) Knowledge Construction)
Second discussion The visual description (second) half Learners always construct knowledge
On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being extremely of both the second and third (Bopry, 1999; Noddings, 2000).
useful, how useful was this instruction? discussions, focused on fhink-aloud Nevertheless, some instructional strategies,
On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being very enjoyable, how enjoyable was this instruction? descriptions and descriptions written on Post-It notes of the various strategies participants used to construct knowledge. The journal such as authentic tasks, problems or cases, active involvement, multiple perspectives, invention and exploration, and skilled or expert models facilitate knowledge
What, if anything, in the instruction helped was another source of information construction (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996;
you make the new information meaningful or about the participants knowledge Grabinger, 1996). Other strategies that
relevant? construction process. Participants facilitate knowledge construction include
How did these things help you? (If appropriate) Can you prioritize those used the journal to record their knowledge construction process between our second and third questions (Grabowski, 1996), illustrations with coordinated captions, animation with concurrent narration, worked-out examples


Table 3.10 Relationship Between Research Question 7, Sources of Data, and the Constructivist Theory of Learning
Research Question:-What features or attributes of relevant, self-paced, technology-basedinstruction do adult learners identify as facilitating or supporting their knowledge construction process?
Sources of Data
Discussion Questions (Verbal descriptions of Knowledge Construction) Discussion Topics (Visual descriptions of Knowledge Construction) Constructivist Theory of Learning
things? That is, on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being extremely helpful, how would you rate each of the instructional strategies you just identified as helpful in making the new information meaningful? meetings and after our third meeting. and elaborative questions, which link new information to prior experiences. (Mayer, 1999).
Third discussion Did you recall anything from the instruction that helped you make this information meaningful? On a scale of 1 to 5, how helpful were each of those? How did it help you?


3.6 Data Recording, Protection, Management, and Disposition
As described in the previous section, the data in this study were generated from discussions I
had with the participants, diagrams the participants created, journals the participants used for recording
their knowledge construction process, and email messages the participants sent to me. Data were also
generated from my reflective journal and a diagram of my own knowledge construction process. The
focus of this section is to describe how all of this data was assembled, protected, managed, and will
eventually destroyed. Thus, there are four sub-sections in this section.
3.5.1 Data recording
3.5.2 Data protection
3.5.3 Data management
3.5.4 Data disposition
3.6.1 Data Recording
I audiotaped both the second and third discussions with each participant and a professional
transcribed each audiotape. It was not necessary to record the first discussion, as it focused merely on
collecting demographic information, describing the basic research methodology, and answering
questions the participant had about the study. Email messages were automatically recorded in text
format.
3.6.2 Data Protection
There were only seven people who had access to the raw data generated in this study and only I
had access to all of it. The professional transcriber and I had access to the audiotapes. The transcriber,
my committee, and I had access to the transcriptions, but only my committee and I had access to the
email messages, copies of journal entries, and Post-It note diagrams. Thus, the raw data was protected
from being used inappropriately because very few people had access to it.
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In all written documents describing this study (e.g., this dissertation, or related journal articles,
or conference papers), references to individual participants was strictly by a pseudonym. I never revealed
the employers of the participants although I did indicate the type of organization for whom each of the
participants worked, e.g., telecommunications corporation or software development corporation.
3.6.3 Data Management
The transcriber sent me MSWord documents. I converted those documents to rich text
format (.rtf) and entered them into NVivo to manage, organize and analyze the data. Similarly, I
created an MSWord document for each journal entry and each email message, saved it as an .rtf file, and
entered it into NVivo. Thus, I used NVivo to manage all of the raw data and all of the coded data. I
used MSExcel to manage the data generation process. Appendix C contains the spreadsheet that
documents the dates of each meeting and all major coding activities.
3.6.4 Data Disposition
All audiotapes and their transcriptions, all drawings, and all journal entries created by the
participants are held in a locked file cabinet. According to the University of Colorado at Denver,
Human Research Committee, I must retain all that data for three years after I successfully defend my
dissertation.
3.7 Reliability and Validity
In discussing the assessment of qualitative research, Goetz and LeCompte (Goetz &
LeCompte, 1984; LeCompte & Goetz, 1982) translated and made relevant traditional quantitative
definitions of reliability and validity. They argued that, regardless of the discipline or the methods used
for data collection and analysis, all scientific ways of knowing strive for authentic results (LeCompte &
Goetz, 1982, p. 31) and thus, qualitative researchers must address reliability and validity if they want their
work be perceived as credible. The traditional, quantitative concepts of reliability and validity are,
however, different when applied to qualitative research (1984; LeCompte & Goetz, 1982).
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3.7.1 Reliability
Reliability is the extent to which a research study can be replicated by another independent
researcher. Because qualitative research occurs in natural settings and typically focuses on the processes
of change, reliability poses a particularly difficult problem for qualitative researchers. Natural settings,
which are by definition unique and not controlled by the researcher, can never be precisely
reconstructed. Nevertheless, Goetz and LeCompte (Goetz & LeCompte, 1984; LeCompte & Goetz,
1982) indicated that qualitative researchers can estimate both external and internal reliability.
3.7.1.1 External Reliability
To enhance the external reliability of their data, qualitative researchers address the following
five issues: researcher status position, informant choices, social situations and conditions, analytic
constructs and premises, and methods of data collection and analysis (Goetz & LeCompte, 1984;
LeCompte & Goetz, 1982).
3.7.1.1.1 Researcher Status Position
Researcher status position is the extent to which the researcher is a member of the group being
studied and the position the researcher holds in those groups. Because qualitative research depends on
the social relationship of researcher with subjects, research reports must clearly identify the researchers
role and status within the group investigated (LeCompte & Goetz, 1982, p. 38). My social position in
the three corporations who participated in this study was primarily that of an independent consultant and
secondarily, that of student researcher. Several years prior to this research, I completed a contract with
one of the organizations and one of the participants in this research was the contact person for that
consulting project. I had never worked with or for the other two organizations. My status with the
research participants was, thus, adult-to-adult, consultant to client, and researcher to participant.
3.7.1.1.2 Informant Choices
Informant choices is the specific personal and social characteristics of each participant.
Threats to reliability posed by informant bias are handled most commonly by careful description of
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those who provided the data (LeCompte & Goetz, 1982). The problem of informant choices is of
particular concern when the focus of the qualitative study is a group. In this study, however, the focus
was on individuals and while I asked participants to describe how colleagues, friends, and family helped
them construct knowledge, I was not studying a group. Appendix D provides demographic information
for each participant. It is important to note that each participant in this study was a volunteer.
Additionally, Appendix A contains a Description of Context for each participant. In qualitative research
demographics have little significance and more descriptive methods of describing the participants and
the context should be used (Morse, 1991, p. 142). Thus, the descriptions in Appendix A include an
overview of the course each participant took and a description of the historical context of each course in
terms of the professional practice of each participant.
3.7.1.1.3 Social Situations and Conditions
The third external reliability problem is the social situation in which the researcher collects the
data. For example, participants may feel more or less comfortable and reveal more or less information
depending on the context in which they are meeting with the researcher. Delineation of the physical,
social, and interpersonal context within which data are gathered enhances the replicability of
ethnographic studies (LeCompte & Goetz, 1982). All meetings with all the participants in this study
were conducted at the participants office. Generally, these meetings were held in a small conference
room. Appendix E provides additional information about the function and structure of the meeting
location for each participant.
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Table 3.11 Definitions and References for Research Concepts and Coding Categories
Concept or Coding Category Definition References
Knowledge The process of personalizing and/or customizing new information; it is (Anderson & Thomas, 1992; Candy,
construction the process of making new information relevant and/or meaningful. 1991; Fosnot, 1996; Mezirow, 1997; Roth, 1997).
Prior experience Prior experience is both actual experiences and vicarious experiences a person has had in the past. (Dewey, 1938; Jonassen & Grabowski, 1993; Knowles et al., 1998; Kolb, 1984; Mezirow, 1995)
Metacognition The process of self-assessment and self-correction. Metacognition includes descriptions of how I learn, correcting errors I make in my own thinking, answering test questions, and re-reading instructional information. Usually the answer to the question, How did you know when you had learned something? is a metacognitive statement. Similarly, the end of the phrase, Im the kind of person who is often a metacognitive statement. In other words, metacognition is regulating and modifying our cognitive activity; it is the process of monitoring the (Ridley et al., 1992; Schraw, 1998; Von Wright, 1992)


Table 3.11 Definitions and References for Research Concepts and Coding Categories
Concept or: Coding Category Definition References
progress of learning, planning and selecting strategies, and changing strategies when necessary.
Reflection An interpretative process where learners think about how they can use the instructional information or how it relates to their experiences. Reflection includes identifying when instruction does not meet our needs, visualizing how to use the instructional information, and finding and correcting errors in the instruction. It also includes anticipating or visualizing how the new information will improve something or solve a problem. Reflection can also occur after the learner completes the instruction. In this case, something in the learners environment triggers a flashback and the learner thinks back to the instruction, often reflecting on how something in the instruction relates or links to something the learner just experienced. In summary, reflection is the process of abstracting meaning in an effort (Collins et al., 1991; Von Wright, 1992)


Table 3.11 Definitions and References for Research Concepts and Coding Categories
Concept or Coding Category Definition References
to understand reality. Reflection includes thinking about intentions and motives, contemplating implications and consequences, and comparing our performance with the performance of others.
Generative learning Generative learning strategies are instructional strategies that foster or (Grabowski, 1996; Wittrock, 1992)
strategies facilitate learning. There are two major types of Generative Learning Strategies: (1) Features of CBT and (2) Participant Created. Features of CBT: Those features that learners say help them learn new information. Includes the following: 1. Examples and analogies 2. Test questions 3. Simulations and animations 4. Visuals and graphics 5. Bullet lists


Table 3.11 Definitions and References for Research Concepts and Coding Categories
Concept or Coding Category Definition References
6. Interactive techniques 7. Sections and Table of Contents Participant Created: Those activities learners use to help themselves learn new information. Includes the following: 1. Note taking 2. Highlighting a hard copy of the CBT 3. Making a hard copy of the CBT, possibly for future reference
Conversations Knowledge construction is facilitated by conversations with a variety of (Bonk & Kim, 1998; Brown & Dugid,
different people, i.e., colleagues, friends, family. Conversations not only help adult learners personalize new information, they also help them evolve from novices to experts, and to actively participate in communities of practice. Narration and story telling are types of conversations that help employees diagnose problems and collaboration, narration, and 2000; Brown & Duguid, 1991)


Table 3.11 Definitions and References for Research Concepts and Coding Categories
Concept or Coding Category Definition References
improvisation are used by corporate employees to transform information into corporate knowledge.
Authentic experiences These are experiences where learners actually practice, use, or apply the information in the instruction. Typically, they occur after the learner completes the instruction. Authentic experiences can also be experiences where the learner follows a conversation, which before taking the instruction, would have been confusing. (Boud et al., 1985; Brown et al., 1989; Jarvis, 1987; Kolb, 1981; Usher et al., 1997)


3.7.1.1.4 Analytic Constructs and Premises
Replication requires explicit identification of the assumptions and metatheories that underlie
choice of terminology and methods of analysis (LeCompte & Goetz, 1982, p. 39). Thus, concepts and
coding categories should be clearly and carefully defined (Goetz & LeCompte, 1984). Additionally, a
primary safeguard against unreliability is assuring that concepts are derived from the theoretical
framework that informs the study (Goetz & LeCompte, 1984, p. 220). Table 3.11 provides definitions
and references for the concept of knowledge construction and six coding categories.
3.7.1.1.5 Methods of Data Collection and Analysis
Given that reliability addresses replicability, qualitative researchers must present their methods
so clearly that other researchers can use the original report as an operating manual by which to replicate
the study (Goetz & LeCompte, 1984). This methodology chapter is lengthy due to this requirement.
The specific details hopefully make it easy for other researchers to replicate this study. Additionally, the
data analysis chapter (Chapter 4), includes specific details about the data analysis process to again make it
easy for other researchers to replicate this study.
3.7.1.2 Internal Reliability
Internal reliability focuses on the degree to which multiple observers, within a single qualitative
study, agree (Goetz & LeCompte, 1984; LeCompte & Goetz, 1982). There are five strategies to reduce
threats to internal reliability: low-inference descriptors, multiple researchers, participant researchers, peer
examination, and mechanically recorded data (Goetz & LeCompte, 1984; LeCompte & Goetz, 1982).
3.7.1.2.1 Low-inference Descriptors
Using raw data, such as quotations from the audiotapes of the participant meetings, is a critical
component of establishing credibility. It is this information that provides readers with the means for
accepting, rejecting, or modifying an investigators conclusions (Goetz & LeCompte, 1984p. 218).
Accordingly, the Results chapter (Chapter 4) contains a multitude of participant quotations, taken
84