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Formative Learning: Effects of Visualizing Neuroplasticity on Implicit Theories of Intelligence

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posted on 22.07.2017, 00:00 by Meredith Osborn
Medical illustration traditionally evaluates a successful illustration based on the effectiveness of information transmission: did the audience learn the material? This study expands that view of success by examining not only effective information transmission, but also the influence of the information on the audience’s beliefs and behaviors by affecting their implicit theory of intelligence. Implicit theories are the unexamined beliefs we hold about the world around us. Psychology research indicates that instruction on neuroplasticity can affect implicit theories of intelligence -- whether we believe intelligence to be a fixed or dynamic quality. Implicit theories have been widely shown to impact behavior and performance in conflict, challenge, and failure. This study involved the creation of a visually rich interactive eLearning module teaching about the dynamic changes happening within the brain. The module was tested for both traditional learning outcomes (didactic results) and formative outcomes (change in implicit theory) through a pre/post-test design. Didactic results were assessed with multiple choice questions. Implicit theories were assessed using an established set of statements and Likert-style scales. Subjects were recruited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing platform. The average knowledge test score went from 51% pre-test to 82% post-test (n=47, p<0.0001, Cohen’s d = 1.53) and the average implicit theory score increased by 0.55 pre- to post-test (n=47, p<0.0001, Cohen’s d = 0.64). These results strongly support the hypothesis. Not only did participants learn the material presented in the interactive, but it changed their implicit beliefs about the nature of intelligence. This study invites an ongoing data-driven discussion about how visualizing science affects beliefs and therefore behavior.



Daugherty, John


Biomedical and Health Informatics

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University of Illinois at Chicago

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Valenta, Annette Boyd, Andrew

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