Cognitive Constructivism & Social
The anchored instruction approach is an attempt to help students become
more actively engaged in learning by situating or anchoring instruction
around an interesting topic. The learning environments are designed to
provoke the kinds of thoughtful engagement that helps students develop
effective thinking skills and attitudes that contribute to effective problem
solving and critical thinking.
Principles of anchored instruction:
Anchored instruction emphasizes the need to provide students with opportunities
to think about and work on problems, which is an emphasis of cognitive
constructivists. Anchored instruction also emphasizes group or collaborative
problem solving, which is an emphasis of social constructivists. Much of
the collaborative problem solving that is at the center of the Jasper
Woodbury programs is an example of applied social constructivism.
Learning and teaching activities should be designed around an "anchor"
which is often a story, adventure, or situation that includes a problem
or issue to be dealt with that is of interest to the students.
Instructional materials should include rich resources students can explore
as they try to decide how to solve a problem (e.g., interactive videodisc
The sections below explain several popular types of anchored instruction.
The explanations are, however, very brief. You may want to explore the
links in each section that take you to examples of the different types
of software. "Playing" with the software will give you a much better feel
for what anchored instruction is.
The Jasper Woodbury series of adventures, which were created by a group
at Vanderbilt University, tell interesting stories in which there are problems
to be solved.
The series is designed for middle grades, and the problems require and
understanding of math concepts that are generally taught in the middle
grades. Currently The Adventures of Jasper Woodbury series consists of
12 different videodisc-based adventures (plus video based analogs, extensions
and teaching tips).
Jasper series represents an example of anchored instruction (and also
of problem-based learning). The Jasper adventures go well beyond the "word
problems" typically found in math textbooks for the middle grades. Jasper
adventures use a visual story format to present problems. Students watch
video segments from a videodisc to understand the situation and the problem.
The materials available to the students also have "embedded data" and "embedded
teaching" to seed the environment with ideas relevant to problem solving.
The General is Missing is one of the episodes. In this episode, Larry,
Emily and Jasper find a note saying Grandpa has been called away on business,
but Grandpa doesn't have a business.
They rush to solve the algebra equations Grandpa enclosed with his note.
They graph the equations and place the resulting shape over Grandpa's letter.
The kids finally find out that the letter says that Grandpa has been kidnapped.
Grandpa asks the teenagers to prepare SMART Tools created using algebra
so they can easily interpret the data and use it to find his location on
the map. The challenge for the students in the classroom is to design the
SMART Tools to decipher the directions that Grandpa sent to Larry, Jasper
and Emily. In creating the SMART Tools, students learn how to measure the
speed of sound, compare various rates of travel, show the relationship
between a circle's circumference and its diameter, and determine the height
of a hill by the horizontal distance traveled and the rate of the hill's
The Voyage of the Mimi, which was developed by Bank Street College of Education,
involves students as the crew on an ocean voyage of the 72-foot ketch,
Mimi, a converted French tuna trawler outfitted as a modern ocean-going
The purpose of the voyage is to study whales. It is also intended to
help students develop science and mathematics skills. To successfully complete
the first voyage, students must learn and use navigation principles, map
reading, and many other skills.
The First Voyage of the Mimi series consists of twenty-six 15-minute
programs. In the adventure story, two scientists and their teenage research
assistants embark on a seagoing expedition to study humpback whales. Each
drama (episode) is paired with a 15-minute documentary (expedition) that
develops a scientific or mathematical concept presented in the drama. Seven
videodisks support this program with video clips that illustrate different
phases of the voyage as well as simulated trips to museums, aquariums,
and other places where scholars study the marine life.
The Second Voyage of the Mimi, which involves a voyage to Mexico. It
continues the adventure with Mimi wintering off Mexico's Yucatan peninsula,
chartered by archeologists intent on studying Maya civilization. It combines
dramatic episodes and documentary expeditions to develop mathematical and
scientific concepts in grades 4-8. This series consists of twenty-four
15-minute programs. The Second Voyage of Mimi also uses laser disks.
Many types of support materials are available from the distributor,
Sunburst. They include language arts activity guides for the voyages as
well as theme guides, a whales database, student books, a social studies
resource kit, wall charts, posters, and much more. The following screen
capture is Sunburst's
we page (http://www.sunburstonline.com:80/mimi.html) for The
Voyage of the Mimi.
Click here to view detailed The
Voyage of the Mimi Program Descriptions (http://www.ket.org/Education/Videos/Science/VoyageoftheMimi.html).
This web page provides an overview on anchored instruction. It first describes
anchored instruction as a major paradigm for technology-based learning
that has been developed by the Cognition & Technology Group at Vanderbilt
(CTGV) under the leadership of John Bransford. It then continues that the
initial focus of the work was on the development of interactive videodisc
tools that encouraged students and that the video materials serve as "anchors"
(macro-contexts) for all subsequent learning an d instruction. It emphasizes
that the anchors of anchored instruction are stories rather than lectures
and were designed to be explored by students and teachers.
This study introduces technology-based anchored instruction materials to
classrooms in two primary schools in Singapore. This study also seeks to
study how local teachers and students will react to these anchored instruction
materials. The materials include but not limited to "The Adventures of
Jasper Woodbury". The researchers asked the teachers to develop their own
lesson plans, and then studied how they customized instructional materials
developed in the US for their own teaching objectives. Qualitative as well
as quantitative research methodologies were included in the paper.
This web page provides for beginners the general information on the originator,
overview, applications, examples, principles of anchored instruction.
This paper discusses the development and use of videotape vignettes, portraying
real-life problem scenarios, to teach concepts and problem-solving skills
in environmental education. Videotaped vignettes offer an unique interdisciplinary
advantage for teaching environmental problem solving by combining different
areas such as drama, art, language arts, mathematics and science. Such
problem-solving macrocontexts offer a richer and more complex environment
than text by itself. They are also more representative of actual real-world
problem solving experiences. The author also argues that the cognitive-networking
process can be achieved by combining teaching strategies based on cooperative
learning, and anchored instruction. Cooperative learning offers strategies
for students to interact with their peers such as structured peer-group
discussion, problem-solving team pairs, peer coaching, and role-based laboratory
activities, while anchored instruction provides a motivational focus that
"anchors" students to the learning task. Videotape anchors can be used
as a learning environment within which students seek out and apply relevant
knowledge, establish new connections, and build cognitive structures that
result in more efficient problem-solving and better conceptual understanding.
to Cognitive Constructivist Theories
to Social Constructivist Theories