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Schwartz et al

Schwartz et al

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Published by Anthony Petrosino
Software for managing complex learning: Examples from an educational psychology course
Daniel L. Schwartz, Sean Brophy, Xiaodong Lin and John D. Bransford

Inquiry-based instruction including problem-, project-, and case-based methods often incorporate complex sets of learning activities. The numerous activities run the risk of becoming disconnected in the minds of learners and teachers. STAR.Legacy is a software shell that can help designers organize learning activities into an inquiry cycle that is easy to understand and pedagogically sound. To ensure that classroom teachers can adapt the inquiry activities according to their local resources and needs, STAR.Legacy was built upon four types of design principles: learner centered, knowledge centered, assessment centered, and community centered. We describe how a STAR.Legacy constructed for an educational psychology course helped preservice teachers design and learn about effective inquiry-based instruction.
This work was supported by grant #R305F60090 from the Department of Education. The authors thank the educational psychology students for their contributions to this paper and Amy Ryce for her editorial talents.
Software for managing complex learning: Examples from an educational psychology course
Daniel L. Schwartz, Sean Brophy, Xiaodong Lin and John D. Bransford

Inquiry-based instruction including problem-, project-, and case-based methods often incorporate complex sets of learning activities. The numerous activities run the risk of becoming disconnected in the minds of learners and teachers. STAR.Legacy is a software shell that can help designers organize learning activities into an inquiry cycle that is easy to understand and pedagogically sound. To ensure that classroom teachers can adapt the inquiry activities according to their local resources and needs, STAR.Legacy was built upon four types of design principles: learner centered, knowledge centered, assessment centered, and community centered. We describe how a STAR.Legacy constructed for an educational psychology course helped preservice teachers design and learn about effective inquiry-based instruction.
This work was supported by grant #R305F60090 from the Department of Education. The authors thank the educational psychology students for their contributions to this paper and Amy Ryce for her editorial talents.

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Published by: Anthony Petrosino on Nov 12, 2010
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Software for Managing Complex Learning: Examples from an Educational Psychology CourseAuthor(s): Daniel L. Schwartz, Sean Brophy, Xiaodong Lin, John D. BransfordSource:
Educational Technology Research and Development,
Vol. 47, No. 2 (1999), pp. 39-59Published by:
Stable URL:
Accessed: 12/11/2010 11:22
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Software
for
Managing
Complex
Learning:
Examples
from
an
Educational
Psychology
Course
DaonelL SchwartzSearBropnyXicodongLinJohnDBransford
Inquiry-basednstructionincludingroblem-,project-,ndcase-basedethodsoftenncorpo-ratecomplexetsoflearningctivities.Thenumerousctivititesun theriskof becomingdisconnectedn themindsoflearnersndteachers.STAR.Legacysasoftwarehellhatcanhelpdesigners rganizeearningctivitiesintoaninquiry yclehatseasyto under-standandpedagogicallyound.Toensurehatclassroomeachersanadaptheinquiryctivi-tiesaccordingo their ocalresourcesndneeds,STAR.Legacyasbuiltupon our typesofdesignprinciples:earnerentered,nowl-edgecentered,ssessmententered,ndcom-munitycentered.WedescribeowaSTAR.Legacyonstructedoran educationalpsychologyoursehelpedreserviceeachersdesignand earnabouteffectivenquiry-basedinstruction.
ZNewdevelopmentsinlearningtheory sug-gestthatmanyteachers-thepresentauthorsincluded--canimprovestudentlearning bychangingtheirteachingpractices(e.g.,Cogni-tionandTechnologyGroupatVanderbilt[CTGV],996).Ascollegeteachers,weoften findthat ourpredominantmethod ofteachingistoassignchapterreadingsandthen togivelecturesanddemonstrationsofpointswe thinkareimportant(seealso, Nunn,1996).Weassesslearningby askingstudents toanswermultiple-choicequestions, give presentations,orwriteessaysthatparaphraseandelaborateonwhattheyhave learned. These methodsofteachingand assessment"work"nthesense that moststudentscandemonstratehattheyhave learnedsomething.Nevertheless,thequalityof theirlearningisoften lessthansatisfying. Readingassignmentsandfollow-upecturescanproduceevidenceoflearninghatookssuccessfulatfirstglancebut missesmanyelementsofunderstand-ingwhenanalyzedinmoredetail(Bransford&Schwartz,npress;Schwartz&Bransford,998).Students,orexample,often failto usespontane-ouslywhattheyhave learnedin a newsettingdespitethe fact thatit ishighlyrelevant.White-head(1929)referred othefailureoapplylearn-ingas the "inertknowledge"problem.Anumber of studiesshow thattraditionalapproachesto instructionoftenproduceinertknowledge (e.g.,Bereiter&Scardamalia,1985;Bransford,Franks,Vye,&Sherwood,1989;Gick&Holyoak,1983;Perfetto,Bransford,&Franks,1983).
ETR&D,ol.47.No.2,1999,pp.39-59ISSN042-1629
39
 
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ETR&D.ol.47 No. 2
Instructionalnnovations such asproblem-based,case-basedandproject-basedearninghave beendesignedtocombattheinertknowl-edge problem(forprecisedistinctionsamongtheseapproachesseeBarronetal.,1998;Wil-liams,1992).Insteadofsimplyassigningfact-basedreadingsorprovidinglectures,studentsbegintheirinquirywithchallengingproblems,andtheylearn information relevant to thosechallengesastheneedarises. Instructionalapproachesthat areorganizedaroundcases,problemsandprojectshave beenusedforanumberofyearsinprofessionalschoolsfortrainingin medicine(e.g.,Barrows,1985),busi-ness(e.g., Gragg,1940),law(e.g.,Williams,1992),and educational administration(e.g.,Bridges&Hallinger,1995).Theseapproachesoinstructionare alsobeingusedwithincreasingfrequencyinK-12education(e.g.,Barrontal.,1998;CTGV, 1992;1997;Krajcik,Blumenfeld,Marx,Bass,&Fredricks,1998;Penner,Lehrer,&Schauble,1998).Williams(1992)providesanexcellentreview ofproblem-basedand case-basedlearning.Data onthe effectivenessoftheseapproachesforstudentlearningare dis-cussedin Barronetal.(1998;seealso, CTGV,1997; Hmelo,1998;Michael,Klee,Bransford,&Warren,1993;Vyeetal.,1998).There arerisks associatedwith theuseofcase-based,problem-basedandproject-basedlearning.Amajorrisk is thatengagementcan bemistakenforlearning.Forexample,whencom-pletingahands-onactivitysuch asbuildingamodelrocket,studentsmaybe active andenthused,yetassessments of thesystematicunderstandingmayyielddisappointingresults(examplesarediscussedinBarronetal.,1998).Another riskcomes fromtheassumptionthattheseareconstructivistactivities thatrequireteachers toeliminatetraditionalactivities suchasassigningfact-basedreadingsorprovidinglectures.Assumptionssuch as these fail to dif-ferentiateconstructivismas atheoryofknowingfrom theories ofpedagogy.Constructivist heo-ries assume thatpeople alwaysusetheir priorknowledgetoconstructnewknowledgeeven iftheyaresittingthrougha lecture(e.g.,Cobb,1994).Lecturesare often not the bestwaytohelpnovices learnbecause theirknowledgeis notsufficientlydifferentiated to understandalec-tureatadeeplevel.However,ifstudents aregivenopportunitiestodevelopwell-differenti-atedknowledge,lecturescanbe apowerfulwaytohelpstudentsorganizetheirknowledgeandexperiencesSchwartz&Bransford,998).Therearetimesforlectures andreadings,buttheyneed to occur when studentsarepreparedtoappreciateheinsightsthattheycontain.Inourexperiences,case-,problem-andproj-ect-basedlearningaremosteffectivewhenteachers,studentsandotherinterestedpartiesformlearningommunities,where there isindi-vidualaccountabilityyetpeoplecollaborate inorderto achieveimportant objectives,andwhere there is access toexpertisethatoftenliesoutsidetheclassroomcommunity(e.g.,Bransfordetal.,inpress).Frequentopportuni-ties forformativelyassessingindividualandgroup progressare alsoimportantforhelpingstudentsachieve(e.g.,Barron tal.,1998;Vyeetal.,1998).Inthisarticle wedescribeasoftwareshell,STAR.Legacy,hat sdesignedtoguideattemptstohelpstudents learn fromcase-,problem-,andproject-based earning.STAR.Legacyupportstheintegrationof fourtypesoflearningenviron-ments that we believe areespecially importantforenhancingearning(CTGV,npress):1.Learner-centerednvironmentshat focus onknowledge,skillsandattitudes thatstudentsbringtothelearningsituation2.Knowledge-centeredenvironmentsthatfocus onknowledgethat isorganizedaroundcoreconceptsorbigideas thatsupportsubse-quent learningin thedisciplines(e.g.,seeBrown &Campione,1994;CTGV,npress)3.Assessment-centered nvironments hathelpstudents'thinkingtobecomevisiblesothatboththeyandtheir teachers canassess andrevisetheirunderstanding4.Community-centerednvironmentshatcap-italize on localsettingsto createasense ofcollaboration-bothamongstudents andwithothermembersofthecommunityIntegratinghese fourtypesof environmentsrequireswhat we callflexiblyadaptivenstruc-tionaldesign(Schwartz,Lin,Brophy,&Bransford,npress).As teachers useproblem-,project-,orcase-basedmaterials,theyneed to

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