Effects of sequentially increasing learner control on students’ achievement and intrinsic motivation
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Most teachers believe that learner control over task selection positively affects learners’ motivation and achievement. However, research on learner control shows mixed results on motivation and learning. Possible explanations for these findings are the cognitive overload novice learners might experience and their insufficiently developed self-regulated learning skills. To support novice learners in developing their self-regulated learning skills and prevent cognitive overload, sequentially increasing learner control might be a solution. This research with 77 secondary education students has examined whether sequentially increasing learner control leads to better learning and higher intrinsic motivation. In the controlled condition learners received no control over task selection and in the experimental condition learners received gradually more control. Results from an analysis of covariance do not confirm the hypothesis. Although participants in the experimental condition reported significantly more perceived choice, this did not affect other aspects of motivation or their performance. The results do not show that it is better to give learners gradually more control over task selection than continuing teacher controlled education. Possible explanations, limitations and implications for educational practice are discussed.