Comparing the Effectiveness of Three Instructional Approaches in a Problem-Centered, Multimedia-Based Learning Environment
Throughout the history of the American public education system, many people have predicted that technology would significantly improve the way students learn and the way teachers provide instruction. Unfortunately, each technological innovation has failed on its promise to dramatically improve education. This has led some researchers to suggest that more research is needed to examine the influence that teacher's pedagogy has on technology integration.
This study examines three different instructional approaches used within a multimedia-based learning environment and the impact they have on student knowledge. A total of 225 students of varied academic achievement levels and three middle school geography teachers participated in the study. An online multimedia-based learning environment, GeoThentic, required students to use data and information provided in the learning environment to identify the best location in which to build a hospital in San Francisco. Each teacher used a different instructional approach for each of the three classes he or she taught. These instructional approaches were defined by and based on the literature on directed instruction, structured problem solving, and minimally guided instruction.
A written response exam and selected response exam measured the ability of a group of students to process information and analyze data provided in the GeoThentic environment. When comparing the results of these two different tests, the analyses found that students receiving minimally guided instruction performed significantly different than those students receiving directed instruction or structured problem solving instruction. Taken together, these results suggest that minimally guided instructional approaches are less effective than directed or structured problem solving instructional approaches for this particular type of learning environment. This study also suggests that teachers must provide a certain amount of guidance to students, however, more research is needed to identify the appropriate amount of guidance needed and when less direction can be provided to students.
0710: Educational technology