Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Secondary Education

Major Professor

James A. White, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Darlene DeMarie, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tina N. Hohlfeld, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dewey J. Rundus, Ph.D.


graphic organizer, generative learning, instructional strategy, educational technology, research-based practices


By augmenting an existing static medium (a graphic organizer) with attributes such that learners were able to sort or rearrange information in multiple ways, two new types of “dynamic” graphic organizers were created. An experiment was performed to investigate the effectiveness of these dynamic graphic organizers as instructional tools. One-hundred-sixty-one students were recruited for participation in the study from a two-year community college and a four-year public university in the southeast United States. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three graphic organizer treatment groups: static, sortable, and shuffle-sortable. Response accuracy and response latency measurements for three types of mental tasks (factual, comparative, and inferential) were compared across the three treatment groups.

A multivariate analysis of variance showed no significant difference between the three graphic organizer types for response accuracy. A within-groups analysis of variance showed no significant differences in response accuracy between mental tasks within the static or sortable treatment groups. However, analysis of variance indicated that accuracy for inferential judgments was lower than that for factual judgments in the shuffle-sortable group. With respect to response latency, a multivariate analysis of variance revealed no significant difference between the three treatment groups. A within-groups analysis of variance showed significant differences in response latency between factual and inferential judgment-making for both the sortable and shuffle-sortable treatments. The sortable treatment had the most pronounced differences in latency between mental tasks, whereas no significant differences in response latency were observed within the static treatment.

Participants in the two dynamic treatments reported much higher percentages of affirmative responses to the question, “Did you think your graphic organizer was an effective instructional tool?” with 82.7% and 81.5% responding “yes” for the Sortable and Shuffle-sort groups, respectively, and only 60.0% responding “yes” for the Static group.

The graphic organizers in the study are known as adjunct displays and therefore each was associated with an accompanying text passage. Participants had the capability of viewing the accompanying text passage at will within the constraints of a five-minute graphic organizer study period. Analysis of variance revealed that participants in the shuffle-sortable group spent significantly less time viewing the text passage than participants in the static group, possibly because the overhead associated with the shuffle-sortable graphic organizer’s user interface controls consumed time or mental resources that would have otherwise been used to view the text.

The results of this study suggest that dynamic graphic organizers are equivalent to traditional static graphic organizers, at least for the educational subject matter used in this study (comparative text comprising 204 words describing six fictitious species of fish, their attributes, and the relationships between these attributes) for measures related to accuracy. Additionally, participants in the two dynamic graphic organizer treatments took advantage of the affordances offered by those treatments (88.5% of the Sortable group sorted, 75.9% of the Shuffle-sort group sorted, and 88.9% of the Shuffle-sort group shuffled). This study may benefit both instructional designers and educational researchers as new curricula are designed and new instructional tools are studied, respectively.