Different students have different cognitive styles. They learn in different ways. Most classroom exercises only support a single style. Because we designed Creanimate to allow students to control their own learning, when students use the program they are able to tailor the interaction to suit their own style.
We noticed that students using Creanimate tend to exhibit one of five styles of interaction (Cleave, Edelson, & Beckwith, 93):
Model Users: These users "play by the rules." They are compliant and earnest. They completed dialogues and stayed on track.
Rebels: These users refused to engage in dialogue, gave flip and off-beat answers, and got easily frustrated. They frequently pushed the button labeled "What's The Point?"
Dominators: These users were single-mindedly goal-directed. They were interested in building their design. They were interested in pursuing their own topics, rather than letting Creanimate guide the dialogue.
Writers: Writers were expressive and cooperative. Like Dominators, they avoided suggestions and entered long answers. Like Model Users, they completed dialogues and watched the videos the system suggested.
Video Hoppers: These users were video-oriented and passive. They wanted to see videos whenever possible. They avoided entering their own answers, depending instead on the suggestions provided by the system.
Students did not develop these styles when they sat down with Creanimate; they brought these styles with them. Creanimate simply gave them an environment in which they could let their styles come to the fore for us (and them) to see. These styles will emerge in any educational environment that puts control in the hands of students and offers a wide bandwidth of communication between them and their teachers/coaches/advisors.
The existence of these disparate styles shows the importance of individualized instruction. If we do not allow students control, their styles will not surface. And, if their styles do not surface, students cannot learn to manage and refine them. Instead, those styles will remain buried under the surface and will then emerge raw and unfinished outside of school.
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