Graduation Year

2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Edward L. Levine, Ph.D.

Keywords

Web-based training, E-learning, Classroom instruction, Learning, Transfer of training

Abstract

Web-based training (WBT) and classroom instruction (CI) constitute two training media that are commonly employed by organizations. Although the effectiveness of one medium relative to the other depends on a number of factors (e.g., Sitzmann, Kraiger, Stewart, & Wisher, 2006) this study aims to address several methodological issues common in the extant media research and investigate the moderating role of training content complexity on the relationship between media and important training outcomes. Utilizing a 2x2 experimental design, one hundred forty-two undergraduate students were randomly assigned to one of four training courses. Each training course involved a PowerPoint 2007 training tutorial in which trainees were presented with information about certain PowerPoint functions. The CI training courses included three instructors who presented course material to trainees in a predetermined time frame while the WBT courses gave trainees substantial control over their allocation of time during the training course. Results suggest that trainees in the CI courses spent substantially more time on course-related activities than those in the WBT courses, which led to less knowledge acquisition when trainees in the WBT course were presented with relatively complex training material. These findings suggest that although learner control is generally considered a positive aspect of WBT (e.g., Kinzie & Sullivan, 1989) it can lead to less time-on-task and ultimately less learning and less effective transfer when the training content is complex in nature. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are also discussed.

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