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An examination of the effect of CAPSI as a learning system in developing knowledge and critical thinking in two blended learning courses

, University of Manitoba , Canada

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Manitoba . Awarded


The growth of the Internet has begun to make an impact on how course information is delivered, leading to a new pedagogical approach called blended learning (Concannon, Flynn & Campbell, 2005; Dzubian et al. 2004). One pedagogical design that facilitates this changing approach combines Keller's Personalized System of Instruction (Brothen & Wambach, 1999; Keller, 1968) with Web-based technology, resulting in a learning-management method called Computer-Aided Personalized System of Instruction (CAPS!) (Pear & Kinsner, 1988). Three experiments were conducted in order to assess CAPSI in regard to student course knowledge and critical thinking development. These experiments incorporated three different research designs. Experiments 1 and 2 were conducted in a first year Introduction to University course at the University of Manitoba. In Experiment 1 two lecture sections received a CAPSI assignment while two received an extra paper assignment. The results indicate that the CAPSI sections performed significantly better on a final exam and a critical thinking question in the final exam. There was also a positive, but non-significant difference between the CAPSI and the non-CAPSI sections on the content questions and on a measure of critical thinking. In Experiment 2, one lecture section of Introduction to University received a CAPSI assignment, while another lecture section was assigned a research paper. Students in both lecture sections were assessed at the same level for critical thinking on the ACTM prior to the CAPSI or paper assignment. There was a significant difference in scores between sections in favour of the CAPSI section after the completion of the CAPSI or paper assignment. Experiment 3 involved students in two sections of first year Introduction to Psychology course at the University of Winnipeg. In this experiment, the CAPSI group performed better on four multiple-choice exams administered during the course. These difference, however, were not statistically significant, possibly due to a significantly higher dropout rate in the non-CAPSI section than in the CAPSI section. Over all three experiments, the CAPSI sections consistently outperformed the sections with which they were compared with, indicating that CAPSI is an effective empirically based educational methodology.


Svenningsen, L. An examination of the effect of CAPSI as a learning system in developing knowledge and critical thinking in two blended learning courses. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, University of Manitoba. Retrieved February 22, 2019 from .

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