Graphic organizers are popular tools which support meaningful learning. The aim of this study was to compare the learning outcomes of two educational scenarios involving the use of learner-generated or author-provided flow diagrams. Thirty-six third to fifth year medical students worked in pairs in the ‘Bit Pathways’ computer-aided learning environment. The group using author-provided graphic organizers performed significantly better on a knowledge retention test 1 month after the learning activity, requiring less preparatory time than the group generating their own graphic organizers (Cohen’s d effect size=0.84, p=0.03). Students liked both learning activities; however, the preference for learning-by-viewing was clear. Students’ quality of flow diagrams were correlated positively with the outcomes of the knowledge post-test (Spearman’s R=0.75, p=0.03). The generally poor quality of learner-generated diagrams indicated that better guided instructional designs for the learning-by-doing scenario are needed. This paper outlines further development directions of both tested scenarios.
©2013 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston