Flow and learning in computer-mediated learning environments: A meta-analytic review

Daniel Patrick Auld, Fordham University


Flow, as first introduced by Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, has been demonstrated to yield optimal experiences for those engaged in flow-inducing activities. Recent examination of flow and its impact on learning outcomes has been the focus of research within computer-mediated learning environments, CMLEs. Yet, what constitutes the flow phenomenon and the methods to accurately measure it are inconsistent, such as its operationalization and measurement. A random-effects meta-analysis was conducted to evaluate the different definitions and measurements of flow within CMLEs and to determine the overall effect of flow on direct and indirect learning outcomes among adult learners. The final analysis included 56 research papers, with 97 cases comparing flow to learning with 9,976 unique participants. A large effect size (r = .43, 95% CI [.23, .59]) between flow and learning outcomes was found, particularly those that were indirect as opposed to direct in nature. The findings also highlighted inconsistencies in the assessment and operationalization of the flow construct. Common among these inconsistencies was a deviation from Csikszentmihalyi's recommendation for situated and non-delayed assessment and an operationalization that was inconsistent and varied across the studies. These inconsistencies are discussed.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Auld, Daniel Patrick, "Flow and learning in computer-mediated learning environments: A meta-analytic review" (2014). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3632075.