Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Edward Levine


individual differences, self-regulation, task complexity, trainee reactions, web-based training


Learner-controlled e-learning has become a preferred medium for the delivery of organizational training. While e-learning offers organizations and trainees many advantages, it also comes with several potential disadvantages. The aim of this study was to explore the relative efficacy of learner- and program-controlled e-learning for content that differs in its complexity. This study also explored cognitive load as a differential mediator of the interaction between learner control and training content complexity for predicting cognitive and behavioral learning outcomes. Finally, learning goal orientation was explored as a motivational individual difference that helps learners cope with complex, learner-controlled e-learning environments. Results suggest that while there is little difference between learners in learner- and program-controlled e-learning environments for content that is relatively simple in nature, complex, learner-controlled e-learning environments are detrimental to cognitive learning relative to complex, program-controlled environments. Moreover, the results suggest that this interaction is differentially mediated by cognitive load, suggesting that complex, learner-controlled environments induce high cognitive demands onto learners which ultimately inhibit cognitive learning. Finally, learning goal orientation was identified as more facilitative individual difference in learner-controlled e-learning environments relative to program-controlled and simple training environments. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are also discussed.