The design and evaluation of Link: a CAL system designed to address psychology students' misconceptions about correlation

Morris, Erica Jane (1999). The design and evaluation of Link: a CAL system designed to address psychology students' misconceptions about correlation. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis describes the design, development and evaluation of Link, a computerassisted learning program for correlation, which is targeted at psychology students in higher education. Computer technology is being increasingly used on statistics courses, suggesting that computer-assisted learning programs on statistical concepts will be increasingly used by students in higher education. To inform the design of Link, an empirical study was conducted to investigate students’ difficulties with correlation. It was found that psychology students held misconceptions relating to negative correlations, the strength of correlations and that they infer causality. The design of Link was also informed by research-based principles of learning, research and developments in computer-assisted learning and a review of computer-assisted learning programs that cover correlation. A formative evaluation study involving eighteen psychology students found that having used the program, students’ general understanding of correlation was significantly improved. Unlike previously existing computer-assisted learning programs that were reviewed, Link makes use of data from two authentic studies in psychology. In addition. Link provides learner activities specifically designed to address students’ misconceptions about correlation. A summative evaluation study of Link involving fifty psychology students was undertaken to assess the effect on students’ understanding of correlation. The findings of this evaluation provided further qualitative data on students’ misconceptions. Moreover, it was found that the use of Link significantly contributed to students’ general understanding of correlation.

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