Can structured representation enhance students' thinking skills for better understanding of E-learning content?
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This paper proposes an e-learning model to assess the effects of online structured representation of content on learners' understanding. We designed a structured representation based on the theory of distributed cognition that provides seven segments for reading research articles. The study hypothesized that motivation, attention, and interactivity are essential factors that affect students' thinking skills for understanding e-learning content. To investigate and confirm the effect of these factors on the students' thinking skills, we designed a survey and analyzed the responses of 210 university students concerning the proposed structured representation. The results revealed that motivation, attention, and interactivity did contribute to the students' thinking skills. They also demonstrated that the structured representation helped students achieve an adequate level of thinking skills as they read research articles, which had a positive effect on their understanding. This finding demonstrates that structured representation has significant potential as a learning tool and that structure-based e-learning can influence students' metacognitive activities and facilitate their understanding. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.