Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Instr and Curr Leadership


Instructional Design and Tech

Committee Chair

Emery Trey Martindale

Committee Member

Michael Maurice Grant

Committee Member

Clif Mims

Committee Member

Louis A Franceschini


A posttest-only, quasi-experimental study was conducted to investigate the effect of two problem-based learning environments on students’ self-regulation of learning and students’ level of cognitive load. The study involved 40 graduate nursing students from two intact nursing courses where problem-based learning was the principal method of instruction. Twenty students from an online course and 20 students from a face-to-face course received one ill-structured problem per week in their respective courses over the 4-week duration of this study. All participants completed the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire after their 4-week participation in the study to describe their learning motivation and their use of learning strategies. Students’ 4-week participation in the study also involved a weekly measure of students’ cognitive load after the completion of an ill-structured problem distributed weekly. A total of four cognitive load measures (i.e., one measure per week) were generated to assess students’ cognitive load across the duration of the study. The results of the study revealed that students did not differ in motivation, cognitive load, and eight of nine self-regulated learning strategies. A MANOVA statistical test indicated that students who received problem-based learning in the online course used fewer metacognitive strategies than students who received problem-based learning in the face-to-face course. Students in the online course were comparable to students in the face-to-face course with respect to the learning strategies rehearsal, elaboration, organization, critical thinking, peer learning, help seeking, effort regulation, and time and study environment. A second MANOVA statistical test indicated that students who received problem-based learning in an online course did not differ from students who received problem-based learning in the face-to-face course with respect to learning motivation. Students in both problem-based learning environments reported comparable intrinsic goal orientation, extrinsic goal orientation, control of learning beliefs, task value, test anxiety, and self-efficacy for learning and performance. Both groups of students experienced a high level of cognitive load but did not experience different levels of cognitive load, as determined by a mixed ANOVA statistical test. A multiple regression analysis indicated that cognitive load was not predicted by students’ learning motivation or use of learning strategies.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.