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Understanding Meaningful Learning in a Technology Training Program: A Qualitative Instrumental Multiple-Case Study

Shuhong Luo, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Meaningful learning is often missing in technology training and learning. This dissertation presents a qualitative, instrumental, multiple-case study of six students with diverse backgrounds who learned Zotero, a literature review and citation management software, in a 1-hour, one-on-one, face-to-face training session at a Midwestern university. The proposed model, simplified teaching–meaningful learning (STML), framed this study, which explored students’ learning processes and learning outcomes when they experience a simplified experiential learning model used in a Zotero training program. Through student and trainer interviews, trainers’ and my observations and reflections, and students’ documentations, I generated six narratives about each student’s meaningful learning during the Zotero training. Most students were engaged and explored actively and confidently during training. All perceived their learning process as meaningful, helping them to connect with their workflow. After training, all could use the basic functions of Zotero, understood them, and remembered them. Their procedures solved problems efficiently and flexibly and were workflow-centered. They considered Zotero easy to use and useful, and intended to use it. Two weeks later, they had adopted Zotero into current research projects or planned to use it in future work. However, they did not fully incorporate the meaningful learning approaches into personal learning strategies. Most retained strong tendencies to value rote and dependent learning, and did not conscientiously recognize and transfer similar patterns of general computer knowledge into the new software. These findings provided valuable insights into meaningful learning for technology educators in designing similar programs. Implications for future technology training design were discussed.

Subject Area

Instructional Design|Information Technology|Education

Recommended Citation

Luo, Shuhong, "Understanding Meaningful Learning in a Technology Training Program: A Qualitative Instrumental Multiple-Case Study" (2015). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3717088.