Skip to content Skip to navigation

The Effect of Highly Scaffolded Versus General Instruction on Students’ Exploratory Behavior and Arousal

Paulo Blikstein, July Silveira Gomes,Henrique Teruo Akiba, Bertrand Schneider
Year of Publication: 
Publication Venue: 
Technology, Knowledge, and Learning

chnology is changing the way students interact with knowledge, and open-ended activities are one of the main types of tasks that students engage with in technology-rich environments. However, the amount of guidance needed to promote learning in these environments remains unknown. We explore this issue by focusing on the effects of step-by-step versus generic instructions on student’s exploratory behavior and arousal levels. In this experiment, students completed three computer-based activities within a physics simulation software: building a tower, building a bridge and a free task. We did not find any effect of our experimental manipulation on students’ task performance. We found, however, that detailed instruction induced higher level of activation followed by a relaxation phase and a recovery of the activation level in the last segment of the task (U-shaped curve). On the other hand, generic instructions seemed to lead students into a continuous relaxation pattern along the task (decreasing slope). Moreover, low and high-aroused students appear to be affected by the instructions differently, with high-aroused students at baseline showing less cognitive flexibility. Finally, we observed carryover effects, where types of instruction kept influencing students’ levels of activation in a following open-ended task. We discuss implications of those results for designing learning activities in constructionist, technology-rich environments.


Blikstein, P., Gomes, J., Schneider, B. (2017) The Effect of Highly Scaffolded Versus General Instruction on Students’ Exploratory Behavior and Arousal. Technology, Knowledge, and Learning

Learning Sciences