As the Web becomes as an important means to disseminate information, a growing number of education settings are developing Web-based learning (WBL). Unlike traditional computer-based instructional programs, WBL systems are used by a diverse population of learners, in terms of their background, skills, and needs (Chen & Macredie, 2004). Therefore, individual differences are becoming an important consideration. In the past decade, many studies have found that individual differences have significant effects on WBL. In particular, gender differences (e.g., Roy & Chi, 2003), prior knowledge (e.g., Calisir & Gurel, 2003), to cognitive styles (e.g., Chen & Macredie, 2004) are the most critical individual differences elements. In this vein, this article will present a comprehensive review on their influences on Web-based learning. The reader of this article is expected to get an overview of the state of the art research associated with these individual differences elements.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Prior Knowledge: The amount of knowledge one possesses about a particular subject matter.
Gender Differences: The social and cultural influences that lead to differences between women and men.
Web-Based Learning: Teaching material that is presented via the Internet, specifically the World Wide Web.
Individual Differences: Stable patterns of behavior or tendencies, which are independent of each other.
Cognitive Styles: The preferred way in which the information is processed.
Field Dependence: A tendency to approach the environment in an analytical, as opposed to global, fashion .