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Developing Self-Regulated Learning in ICT-based Narrative Environments Giuliana DETTORI and Tania GIANNETTI ITD CNR {dettori, giannetti} AIED workshop on Narrative Learning Environments, Amsterdam, 19 July 2005. Work developed within the SIG NLE of Kaleidoscope

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Developing Self-Regulated Learning

in ICT-based Narrative Environments

Giuliana DETTORI and Tania GIANNETTI


{dettori, giannetti}

AIED workshop on Narrative Learning Environments,

Amsterdam, 19 July 2005

Work developed within the SIG NLE of Kaleidoscope

and within the European project TELEPEERS

why fostering srl abilities in children
Why fostering SRL abilities in children?

Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) is currently a main goal of education

  • It consists of cross-curricular abilities which allow people to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes which enhance and facilitate future learning
  • SRL abilities do not increase naturally but because of suitable training
  • Students lacking these skills not only achieve poor academic results but also have behaviour problems and difficulties in social relations
  • SRL is mostly addressed in relation with adult learners, since it involves meta-cognition, which adults grasp easier than younger people

There is no evidence that children are not able to start self-regulating or to reason at meta-cognitive level

  • It would be important to introduce elements of SRL fromprimary school, since these abilities develop incrementally
Why developing SRL abilities through narrative?
  • Narrative is a privileged way for organizing knowledge and helping develop cognitive abilities since stories are familiar to children

How did we proceed?

  • We analyse the potentialities to support SRL offered by an increasingly widespread way of working with narrative, that is, Narrative Learning Environments (NLEs)
  • We selected as NLE a software environment, rich of features and suitable for various age levels, but not an “intelligent” one
  • Analysing a more complex program would introduce variables not strictly related with narrative, and thus make it more difficult to highlight the very relation between NLEs and SRL
  • With our work, we aim to spot categories of functions useful to support SRL in NLEs, rather than particular implementations of such categories
focus on srl
Focus on SRL
  • SRL depends on several aspects:
    • cognition (what school systems are currently mostly focused on)
    • social behaviour
    • motivation
    • emotions
  • It involves three phases (planning, performance, evaluation) that take place repeatedly during learning.
  • SRL strategies are linked to positive emotions. Negative emotions, (anxiety, fear, irritation, shame, guilt, etc) hinder learning, because they temporarily narrow the scope of attention, cognition and action.
  • It is important to create favourable learning environments offering opportunities to control the aspects of learning by means of feedback, reflection and revision
a tool to evaluate srl potential 1 2
A tool to evaluate SRL potential [1/2]
  • We used a questionnaire aiming to evaluate the support to SRL of Technology-Enhanced Learning Environments (TELEs)
  • TELE is any learning environment that makes use of ICT tools, along with methodology and context of use
  • This evaluation tool

- is suitable for any kind of TELE, hence it needs to be interpreted in the context of the TELE

- can help one to spot strengths and weaknesses as concerns SRL

As far as we know, this is currently the only available tool to SRL support within TELEs

It can be downloaded from the web site

a tool to evaluate srl potential 2 2
A tool to evaluate SRL potential [2/2]

This evaluation tool includes:

  • general information on the TELE
  • a set of 43 questions on features or possibilities of use of the TELE
  • a section of summarizing questions

The 43 questions includea variety of aspects, such as:

  • general layout and materials presentation; functional architecture; kind of activities and communication allowed; presence of feedback and assessment tools; etc.

The questions are organized so as to reflect

  • the learning phases: planning, execution+monitoring, evaluation
  • the aspects relevant for SRL:

cognitive, emotional, motivational and social

The TELE analysed
  • We limited the TELE as much as possible to the software program (StoryMaker 2), so as not to detect strengths and weaknesses dependent on the way of use
  • We supposed a situation where a child is working on his/her own on a precise assignment (the creation of a narrative with some data given but free plot), with an educator around just for quick support
  • The learning task is to develop a narrative with some constraints

Story Maker 2

  • is a plain NLE for the creation of multimedia stories
  • has a rich menu of backgrounds, characters, props, sound effects, mostly thematically organised
  • elements can be combined in different ways in each scene
  • is suitable for children of very different levels of cognitive development
  • is suitable for a wide range of applications in the first years of primary school and it can support the development of a variety of cognitive abilities
outcomes of the analysis
Outcomes of the analysis
  • We evaluated this TELE as supporting SRL to a full medium degree
  • These results appear quite good if we consider that developing SRL is not among the explicit aims of the considered software environment
main points of strength as concerns srl 1 2
Main points of strength as concerns SRL [1/2]
  • Ease of use (at least at the simplest level), which can favour
    • cognitive aspects (favouring concentration on task and resources and hence planning)
    • motivational aspects (allowing one to reach meaningful results fast)
    • emotional aspects (avoiding frustration)
  • Rich choice of features and possibility to enrich the menus by modifying the given ones and importing from other programs, which can influence:
    • cognitive aspects, by giving the user freedom to decide how to proceed
    • emotional aspects, since personalization of elements is likely to increase learners’ pleasure to create narratives
  • The above richness makes the program very likely interesting for young users, hence supporting
    • motivation
main points of strength as concerns srl 2 2
Main points of strength as concerns SRL [2/2]
  • Rich variety of possible productions, which can influence:
    • emotional aspects, since it allows to graduate the complexity of work according to the abilities of each user
  • Presence of a library of previous productions, giving the possibility to compare one’s own work with the works of others, which supports:
    • cognitive aspects
  • It allows the user to see a same scene in different modes, i.e., playing mode, construction mode with visible elements, construction mode with hidden elements (links, paths and actions):
    • Viewing in different modes the work one is constructing supports cognitive aspects
    • Viewing in different modes the examples in the archives suggests how to proceed and unblocks the learner in moments of difficulty, hence influencing both the cognitive and motivational aspects
main weaknesses as concerns srl
Main weaknesses as concerns SRL
  • Many resources are scarcely visible: if the user does not know the program well it is difficult to guess the existence of some functions. This is important both at cognitive and emotional level
  • The feedback is very limited, in particular there is no formative feedback. This influences the cognitive and motivational levels.
  • Help facilities are only on technical questions, scarcely suggestive and suitable to adults but rather difficult to use for children. This influences cognitive, motivational and emotional aspects
  • No tools for communication or collaborative work are included, the only contact with the work of others is realised through the archives. This influences the social level: a lack of social learning experiences is considered to be an important source of self-regulatory dysfunction
summarizing support to srl in the learning aspects 1 2
Summarizing support to SRL in the learning aspects [1/2]

•The cognitive aspects of SRL are the most emergent due to:

    • the rich choice of the cognitively relevant elements (characters and actions) in relation with the task at hand
    • possibility to define time-related links among events and actions, which implicitly underlines a temporal sequence in the story
  • The motivational aspects of SRL are supported by the fact that
    • this is a project-oriented environment: producing simple narrative reasonably easily turns out motivating for most children
    • each scene is a complete product in itself, and the users can proceed in story construction following their own personal style
  • The motivational aspects result only average since several functions of the program are not in the icon menu and their use is difficult to be learned intuitively
summarizing support to srl in the learning aspects 2 2
Summarizing support to SRL in the learning aspects [2/2]
  • As concerns emotional aspects, their management is left completely to the user. In particular, we note the absence of feedback
  • As concerns social aspects, they are missing since this is not a collaborative environment. This problem may be somehow overcome if the software tool is merged in the stream of classroom work, hence giving rise to a TELE where the social aspects are realized by letting the pupils work with peers on narrative construction
summarizing support to srl in the learning phases
Summarizing support to SRL in the learning phases
  • Planning resulted highest due to
    • the freedom users have in structuring their work
    • the presence of thematic menus which implicitly suggest possible developments for a story
    • the collection of stories and story starters
  • Execution and monitoring, which is globally scarcely average,
    • is supported by the freedom of proceeding in the work and change strategy if necessary
    • is lowered by the lack of feedback and help
  • Evaluation turned out to be the lowest, due to the lack of elements explicitly stimulating reflection on the work done
improving nles 1 3
Improving NLEs [1/3]

Several features should be added to better support SRL:

  • Several help functions, suitable to be used by young children, to answer the different needs a child may have during narrative creation:
    • cognitive-creative (“I need help to invent my story”)
    • emotional-motivational (“I feel discouraged/lost”)
    • methodological (“I don’t know how to make what I want to do”)
    • technical (“I don’t know how to use a command”)
improving nles 2 3
Improving NLEs [2/3]
  • Possibility of defining the distinctive features of all characters, to be added to the implicitly predefined features of well-known “types”. This could have several influences on the cognitive level:
    • With such descriptions as reference, the child is in a better position to create logically consistent stories and to make inferences on the actions in his/her narration
    • Detecting inconsistencies between definition and behaviour of a character leads to the introduction of exceptions; reflecting on exceptions helps the children to monitor the coherence of their creations
    • It would be interesting to realize definitions in an articulated way:
      • define characteristics on a continuos scale instead of as discrete values
      • allow definitions of moods, which are local to single scenes and can influence actions.
improving narrative environments 3 3
Improving Narrative Environments [3/3]
  • Some kind of support to story general design, to help the child to keep under control the overall development of the plot of a story
  • Some kind of support to reflection on the work done. This should help the child become aware if the story created is consistent
    • in itself
    • with the assignment
    • with the personal expectations as concerns the story itself
  • Making some resources more visible. For instance, it would be useful to have more than two levels for the iconic menu bar, so to include in it all commands, since the presence of buttons calls the attention on the existence of functions that otherwise could ever go neglected
could ai help improve srl support
Could AI help improve SRL support?
  • A generalhelp function should co-ordinate the specialized ones, and guide the child to the selection of the necessary help
  • The definition of the main features of the characters would give the software data on which a non-trivial support could be constructed helping children reason on story consistence and make inferences
  • The support to story general design should include two levels:
    • a basic level, giving some kind of summary showing the sequence of the scenes already realized or at least initialized
    • an “intelligent” level, which should help the child build an overall idea of his/her plot, similarly to what children do when working collaboratively on the creation of some story