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By Walter Sherwood

Definition
Learner Control – As the term states, this definition shows the amount of power, or control, that students have over some if not most of the control of what and how fast they learn
Lesson Control – The best definition of lesson control is simply that control of the lesson comes directly by the teacher of instructor.


What the literature has to says…
There has been research since the 1950’s on the various types and options for learner control and that learner control does positively affect student’s overall learning. Merrill (1984) states that there are three parts to learner control. They are content control, pace control, display control.

Content control allows for the learner, regardless of level, to proceed through the required content at his or her own natural speed. This initially referred to the students’ choices of classes in junior and senior high school. Merrill uses it now to refer to what students actually learn in class, and in what order they are learned. His research showed no comprehension loss and a shortened study time when giving such control to students.

Pace control refers to the choice of the amount of time to learn a specific subject or part of a lesson. Merrill found that no difference occurred between learner control or lesson control.

Display control refers to what students see and usually applies to most computer programs. An example of this type of program is TICCIT (Time-shared, Interactive, Computer-Controlled, Information Television).
Lunts does mirror quite a bit, of what Merrill has put across. He focused on Academic Progress and Motivation/Attitude toward learning. Lunts states, “The dispute on the effectiveness of Learner Control to improve academic performance (mainly test scores) has not been settled. Indeed, there is some evidence that C.A.I. (Computer-assisted instruction) has a positive impact on students' academic performance. … Since Learner Control is only one of the many attributes associated with C.A.I., it is unjustified to conclude that Learner Control has a positive impact on students’ academic achievement. This conclusion can be warranted only if shown that Learner Control consistently improves students’ scores. The studies reviewed in this article do not show this consistency.” This academic performance issue parallels Merrill’s content and pacing control.

Regarding Motivation/Attitude toward learning, Lunts states, “The research studies on Learner Control fail to confirm or disconfirm anything. Consequently, there are no right answers on whether Learner Control is beneficial for students and whether a higher degree of Learner Control implied in a computer program improves instructional effectiveness.” Ultimately, those whose know the students the best will be in the best position to determine whether Leaner Control is the best for them.


References
Alessi, S., & Trollip, S. (2001). Multimedia for Learning Methods and Development. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Merrill, M. D. (1984). What is Learner Control? Instructional Development: The State of the Art, p 221-242 http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2sql/content_storage_01/0000019b/80/1c/e5/0e.pdf
Lunts, E. What does the Literature Say about the Effectiveness of Learner Control in Computer-Assisted Instruction? Electronic Journal for the Integration of Technology in Education, Vol. 1, No. 2 p 59-75 http://ejite.isu.edu/Volume1No2/Lunts.pdf