Functions, use and effects of embedded support devices in printed distance learning materials
Abstract In distance education, the design and elaboration of the learning materials are of prime importance. Despite the potential of new information technologies, printed learning materials are still the dominant delivery format. To support the learning process, the printed materials are enriched with “embedded support devices” (ESD), such as schemes, illustrations, examples, pre- and post-questions, tasks, margin texts, etc. Developers of learning materials assign functions and effects to these ESD. The validity of these assumptions has hardly been empirically researched in a distance education setting. In this article three studies are presented that focus on this issue. In the studies presented, three research methods are used to cope with methodological and theoretical problems as observed in earlier research in relation to ESD. It is concluded that ESD are used and appreciated by students and lead to better study results. The impact of individual characteristics of students was less clear.
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