Promoting constructive activities that support vicarious learning during computer-based instruction

Barry Gholson, Scotty D. Craig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


This article explores several ways computer-based instruction can be designed to support constructive activities and promote deep-level comprehension during vicarious learning. Vicarious learning, discussed in the first section, refers to knowledge acquisition under conditions in which the learner is not the addressee and does not physically interact in any way with the source of the content to be mastered. The second section describes cognitive constructivism from the standpoint of schema theory and the work of Bartlett (1932). The next section describes four principles of curriculum design that support constructive processes during vicarious learning and reviews the process of self-explanation and how computer prompted self-explanation supports constructive activities. Research showing the important role that overhearing deep-level reasoning questions plays in supporting constructive activities and deep-level learning is also described. In the next section, vicarious learning supported by deep-level reasoning questions is contrasted with tutoring as one kind of interactive learning. In the final section, some conclusions are drawn, a few empirical issues are discussed, and two caveats are noted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-139
Number of pages21
JournalEducational Psychology Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Constructivism
  • Deep-level reasoning questions
  • Self-explanation
  • Vicarious learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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