Using Cognitive Flexibility Hypertexts to Reduce Resistance and Increase Learner Engagement with Sensitive Educational Topics
Introducing undergraduate student to current criticism methods in religious studies courses is a significant challenge for the instructors because: a) students may perceive the instructor as trying to impose a view of religion and religious studies that contradicts the one they hold based on their own social experience, which implicitly triggers their resistance to learn these methods; and b) the undergraduate courses in this field usually bring together a diverse body of students with different backgrounds and aptitudes. Cognitive flexibility hypertexts (CFHs) have proven effective in scaffolding learning of complex topics. CFHs use multiple cases that bring perspectives from various stakeholders to help learners build a complex conceptual understanding of these complex topics. This paper is discussing how these various perspectives built in a CFH reduced the learner resistance and engaged undergraduate students in learning of four biblical criticism methods introduced in an introductory religious studies course. Qualitative data resulted from an exit interview along with student performance outcomes sustain the potential impact of CFHs on resistance and engagement in learning of sensitive educational topics.
Keywords: Cognitive Flexibility Hypertexts, Situated Learning, Learner Resistance, Learner Engagement, Biblical Criticism, Religious Studies
Instructional Design Specialist, Extended Learning, University of Missouri Rolla