Novices' learning from the Internet : an exploration of navigation behaviours, learner-related factors, and mental effort
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The current study was an exploration of why some novices are more successful than their peers when learning from the Internet by examining the relations among time spent with relevant information and changes in invested mental effort during Internet navigations as well as achievement. Navigation behaviours and learner characteristics were investigated as predictors of time spent with relevant information and changes in mental effort. Undergraduates (N = 85, Mage = 20 years, 5 months) searched the Internet for information corresponding to a low knowledge topic for 20 min while their eye gaze and pupil size were recorded. Pupil diameter was used as an objective, continuous measure of mental effort. Participants also completed questionnaires or computer tasks pertaining to s e l f-regulated learning characteristics (general intrinsic goal orientation and effort regulation) and cognitive factors (working memory control, distractibility and cognitive style). All analyses controlled for general mental ability, reading comprehension, topic and Internet knowledge, and overall motivation. A greater proportion of time spent with relevant information predicted higher scores on an achievement test. Interestingly, time spent with relevant information partially mediated the positive relation between the frequency of increases in invested mental effort and achievement. Surprisingly, intrinsic goal orientation was negatively related to time spent with relevant information and effort regulation was negatively related to the frequency of increases in invested mental effort. These findings have implications for supports when novices guide their own learning, especially when using the Internet.