Updated Meta-Analysis of Learner Control Within Educational Technology

Abbey C. Karich, Matthew K. Burns, Kathrin E. Maki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Giving a student control over their learning has theoretical and intuitive appeal, but its effects are neither powerful nor consistent in the empirical literature base. This meta-analysis updated previous meta-analytic research by Niemiec, Sikorski, and Walberg by studying the overall effectiveness of providing learner control within educational technology, the characteristics of instruction along the continuum of learner control, and elements of the instructional environments that may play a role in the effectiveness of educational technology. The search terms identified 85 distinct articles, 18 of which met the inclusion criteria (29 effects were computed). The overall effect of including learner control within educational technology was almost zero (g = 0.05), and were also near zero when examining most characteristics of control and classroom contextual factors. Moderate effects were reported for providing learner control within social studies/history courses and for comprehensive technology instructional programs. The effects were larger for behavioral outcomes than academic outcomes, but both were small.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)392-410
Number of pages19
JournalReview of Educational Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • educational technology
  • learner control


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