Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Special Education

First Advisor

Dr. Alonzo E. Hannaford

Second Advisor

Dr. Dona Icabone

Third Advisor

Dr. Abraham Nicolaou

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Howard Poole


A body of literature termed learner control research examined the efficacy of allowing learners' control over the type, rate, amount, and sequence of content to be covered in an instructional program. The growing impact of computer based education has enhanced the possibility of providing learners greater autonomy in the learning process. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of providing learner control options in a computer-assisted instruction (CAI) microcomputer program on patterns of learning strategies and content mastery.

The sample consisted of 98 adult learners involved in the fields of general or special education in the State of Michigan. Subjects were required to complete a CAI program in which the selection and sequence of six content options were controlled by the learner.

A pre-program questionnaire was used to collect demographic information important to the interpretation of the data. Data on the learning strategies were collected using a recording routine built into the CAI program. Content mastery was determined using posttest scores obtained from a True-False examination.

Analyses of the data collected resulted in the following conclusions: (1) Learners differ in the type, amount, and sequence of the instructional content they select. (2) Learners tend to select a practice problem option over other types of presentation format. (3) Learners exhibit an identifiable pattern of learning strategies. (4) Learners with prior knowledge and experience in a specific content area tend to select more content options than those without such knowledge. (5) The learning strategies exhibited by learners do not appear to affect test performance.

Hypotheses which stated that the frequency of a learning strategy and the time taken to complete the strategy would affect test performance were not supported.

The following implications were drawn from the findings: (1) Instruction should provide incentives to learners to explore additional material. (2) CAI should provide a practice unit prior to beginning instruction so that learners can familiarize themselves with the types of presentation formats. (3) CAI should provide learners control over the rate, type, mode, and amount of presentation if a posttest is also available to measure the learner's mastery of the content.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access