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Faculty Mentor

Debra Spear

Abstract

Instructions play a valuable part in modern society, but their effectiveness is often questioned. In this study, 33 undergraduate students completed a series of simple Lego® tasks using three forms of instructional methods. Step-by-step instructions consisting of written instructions, pictorial instructions, or a combination of the two were tested. The number of correctly completed steps and total time taken for each task was collected. Although there was no difference in accuracy with pictorial or combined instruction types, both written and combined instruction types resulted in greater accuracy. No difference between the pictorial and combined instructions could be found, however. The mere presence of pictures may play a role in accurately and timely completion of a simple construction task. Instructions are found virtually everywhere in everyday life. However, their usefulness is often questioned. Manuals are often ignored for assembly until last resort; yet, educational instructions are widely used and provide valuable information. Researchers have explored instructional methods and their ease of use in many studies. One largely researched form of instructions are teaching methods and testing methods. Lamude and Wolven (1998) stress that a teacher's clarity can have an impact on the learning environment. Dwyer and De Melo (1984) report that overall recall when taking a test was improved when illustrations were either utilized in learning the subject, or in the design of the exam. Macneil (1980) found that there was no significant difference between expository and discovery methods of teaching. Several studies have compared different map types as instructional methods and have found that drivers prefer and perform better when illustrated maps are available (Kovach, Surrette & Aamodt, 1988; Wright, Lickorish, Hull & Ummelen, 1995). Teaching styles for physical activities have also been compared. Verbal and written instructions for scuba diving were equally beneficial (Green & Powell, 1988); while there appears to be a difference between auditory, visual, and tactile based instruction for tennis lessons (Kennedy, 1995). Ability to put together a movie projector was not altered by instructional method (modeling, illustrations, and video presented with audio) (Butts, 1979). In computer-based learning, Mayer, Down, and Mayer (2003) found narrative instructions to be more beneficial than text-based instructions on interactive-based tasks. Lastly, a simple marble task was designed by Powell and Howard (1990) to assess the difference in success between written, verbal, and a combination of the two methods. They found no significant difference between the two groups. Researchers have primarily focused on the difference between visual and verbal instruction methods.Each type could be dependent on the task being completed. This study focuses on visually-based instructions that are used to assemble a series of simple building block tasks. The purpose of this study is to compare written instructions, pictorial instructions, and a combination of the two when completing a simple Lego® building task. It is predicted that participants who use combined instructions will score a higher level of accuracy (number of correct steps completed) and will complete the tasks in less time.

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