Christof van Nimwegen’s findings from his study of computer aided learning were remarkable. Nimwegen tests two groups of volunteers to solve a logic puzzle on the computer. One of the groups received helpful software to help them solve the puzzle and the other group were not provided any sort of guidance. It turns out that the group without any sort of help solved the puzzle much faster and with the fewest errors vs the group with the aided software.
He retests the groups again 8 months after, with the same puzzle, and a variation of it and the group without the software aid, solved the puzzle twice as fast again vs the computer aided software group.
Christof van Nimwegen’s study shows how “the more that people depended on the explicit guidance from the software programs, the less engaged they were in the task and the less they ended up learning” (P 218)
The BBC writer, Bill Thompson, highlights the importance of Nimwegen’s research and suggests that developers and designers should look at psychological research in understanding human psychology with computers.
Here’s the article that Bill talks about Nimwegen’s research, here .