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Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

An Action Research Study: Using Problem-Based Learning and Scaffolding Strategies to


Support Student Learning in the Compressed, Third Grade Computer Technology Class
Period
James Madison University

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

Abstract
The purpose of this action research study is to determine the effectiveness of an
instructional design intervention for approximately 100 third grade students. The
intervention will address the Virginia Standard of Learning task, create and present
multimedia presentations (VDOE SOL C/T 3-5.2 A, bullet 3, 2013). It will take place
over a four-week span; during this time each third grade class will visit the computer lab
four times (once a week for forty-five minutes). The researcher will base her instruction
design on the Heinich, Molenda, Russell, and Smaldino (1999) classroom-oriented
instructional design model. During the lessons, the instructor will use Blooms taxonomy
of the cognitive domain and scaffolding techniques to help guide increasingly complex
procedures in the computer classroom. As the students become more familiar with
creating and delivering multimedia presentations, the instructor will use fading to slowly
decrease the amount of scaffolding provided to allow the students to work more
independently. The researcher will use problem-based learning strategies to provide
students and their peers with an authentic and meaningful learning experience. To
evaluate growth over time, the researcher will use a pre and posttest. An instructor rubric
and a student peer review rubric will be used to collect data about the quality of
multimedia presentation and presentation delivery. The researcher will use a final
reflection document to consider whether using the ASSURE model, problem-based
learning, and scaffolding are effective ways to help these third grade students address the
goals of the C/T Virginia SOLs.

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

Introduction and Context


The researcher is a Computer Lab Assistant at John Wayland Elementary School
in Rockingham County Public Schools. She works with classes from preschool through
fifth grades. During this time, the teachers have their planning period and the computer
lab teacher both teaches and supervises students while they are using the computers.
Every class comes to the computer lab one time each week for forty-five minutes. For
this action research study, the researcher will be working with the third grade classes.
There are approximately 100 students in the third grade class. The third grade students
typically spend their computer lab time learning keyboarding skills, playing math games,
and doing activities that relate to the content they are learning in their classrooms. Every
class comes to the computer lab one time each week for forty five-minutes. For this
action research study, the researcher will be working with the third grade classes. The
third grade students typically spend their computer lab time learning keyboarding skills,
playing math games, and doing activities that relate to the content they are learning in
their classrooms. During their computer lab time, students learn through e-learning. Elearning is an approach that facilitates and enhances learning through the use of computer
and communication technology such as personal computers, digital television, mobile
phones, Internet, email, and collaborative software (Keengwe, et al., 2014, p.887). If
designed well, e-learning is learner-centered as opposed to being teacher-centered.
Kong (2002) explains, Schools, as one of the society's cultural institutions, have
the responsibility of preparing all children with the knowledge, skills, and the
dispositions to participate successfully in society (p. 2). Virginia has formed Standards
of Learning (SOLs) in order to create guidelines for what content teachers should teach

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

their students. They are set into place in order to hold teachers and schools accountable
for students learning. The SOLs are arranged by subject and also by grade level. The
purpose of the Computer/Technology (C/T) Standards of Learning is to define the
essential knowledge and skills that students need in order to access, evaluate, use, and
create information using technology. The goal of these SOLs is for students to learn how
to use the technology and apply it to authentic and realistic situations, and not just simply
learn about the technology.
The C/T SOLs are goals set for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade.
The main purpose of these SOLs is to prepare students to succeed in todays
technological working world. These standards are set to encourage students to lay a
foundation for continuous learning. The researcher will focus her instruction on meeting
the SOL, create and present multimedia presentations (VDOE SOL C/T 3-5.2 A, bullet
3, 2013). This specific standard, as well as similar standards related to creating
technology, are intended to be a focus from third grade through fifth grade. So, this will
be the first time the students will be formally taught this SOL at this school. However,
because this SOL is in place for third through fifth graders, the students will be able to
revisit this SOL in both fourth and fifth grade. This is extremely helpful because the
researcher will only have four weeks to introduce and teach creating and presenting
multimedia presentations to the students.
The problem the researcher has experienced is the computer lab time provided for
the students does not align to the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) related to
computers and technology. This is why the researcher wants to address problems like this
one and start teaching to the Computer/Technology SOLs. The researcher has observed

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

there is a discrepancy in what third grade students at an elementary school are learning
and doing with computer technologies, and what the State of VA expects students to
know and do in third grade. More specifically, students in third grade are practicing
keyboarding skills through drill and practice activities when they are expected to
complete tasks such as creating and presenting multimedia presentations. Using Blooms
taxonomy of the cognitive domain as a guide, the more rudimentary keyboarding skills
require less complex thinking than creating and presenting tasks.
The researcher has observed weaknesses in third grade students in meeting the
SOL, create and present multimedia presentations (VDOE SOL C/T 3-5.2 A, bullet 3,
2013). For example, before this applied research study, the researcher had two different
classes of third graders complete an assignment using Microsoft Word. This word
processor is in the same suite as PowerPoint, a common presentation tool. It is even more
fundamental for students to use; yet students found it difficult. Students did not know
where to find it, or how to use it, which suggests they may not know how to locate or use
PowerPoint either.
The purpose of this study is to address the discrepancy in what third grade
students at an elementary school are learning and doing with computer technologies, and
what the State of VA, expects students to know and do. To assist students in advancing
from rudimentary keyboarding skills to more complex thinking required for creating and
presenting tasks, the researcher will use scaffolding and problem-based learning
strategies where students work together to solve complex problems, efficiently. While the
primary standard to be addressed is to create and present multimedia presentations, this
study also addresses other Virginia Standards of Learning.

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

The lesson will cover being able to use a keyboard and mouse to interact with the
computer, and for students to be able to communicate about technology with appropriate
terminology (VDOE SOL C/T 3-5.10, Basic Operations and Concepts, A&B, 2013). It
also covers being able to use technology to effectively communicate with others in
collaborative learning situations. This includes being able to produce presentations and to
be able to use technology tools to share work (VDOE SOL C/T 3-5.10 A&B, 2013). In
addition, this lesson will also cover information about simple machines (VDOE SOL
Science 3.2, 2013). Although the researcher will not be collecting data specifically to
these other SOLs, the students will be covering them.
This lesson will take place over a four-week span. While a SOL exists for
computer technology courses, the school or state does not test students on it. Because of
this, the researcher will only have four weeks with the students to create and present
multimedia presentations. The students will then have to focus on preparing for the
content that will be found on the Virginia SOLs test that they will be taking in May in
other subject areas. Also, the researcher does not want the lesson to go longer than four
weeks in case there are snow days. The previous year the school was closed for fifteen
days and had nine two-hour delays due to inclement weather. The researcher wants to
make sure the students will have four whole class periods to be able to work on creating
and presenting multimedia presentations. Because of this, there is only time to address
one SOL during this period. The researcher is hoping that by beginning with PowerPoint,
the students will then be able to transfer their knowledge about creating and presenting
multimedia presentations to other, similar SOLs involving common software tasks.
Population

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

Ninety-six third grade students, fifty-seven boys and thirty-nine girls, will be
given the opportunity to participate in this research. Four students have specific learning
disabilities, but they are still required to take the Virginia Standards of Learning tests at
the end of the school year. However, the students are never formally tested over
Computer Technology SOLs. The students come from middle class families located in a
small city in the Shenandoah Valley. Eighteen students are eligible for free lunch and six
students are eligible for reduced-priced lunch. The students have never had formal
instruction learning about creating and presenting a multimedia presentation before this
point. They have also never received formal instruction at school about creating
spreadsheets or with using Microsoft Word.
Research Problem Statement
There is a discrepancy in what third grade students at an elementary school are
learning and doing with computer technologies, and what the State of VA, expects
students to know and do in third grade. More specifically, students in third grade are
practicing keyboarding skills through drill and practice activities when they are expected
to complete tasks such as creating and presenting multimedia presentations. Using
Blooms taxonomy of the cognitive domain as a guide, the more rudimentary
keyboarding skills require less complex thinking than creating and presenting tasks.
Keyboarding is taught to all second through fifth graders.
Research Purpose
The purpose of this study is to address the discrepancy in what third grade
students at an elementary school are learning and doing with computer technologies, and
what the State of VA, expects students to know and do. To assist students in advancing

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

from rudimentary keyboarding skills to more complex thinking required for creating and
presenting tasks, the researcher will use scaffolding and problem-based learning
strategies where students work together to solve complex problems, efficiently.
Research Questions:
The purpose of the research is to determine the effectiveness of an instructional
design intervention for third grade students. By conducting this research, the researcher
wants to know, how does the instructional design intervention in this third grade
computer classroom impact teaching of, and learning about, creating and presenting
multimedia presentations (VDOE SOL C/T 3-5.2 A, bullet 3, 2013)? Along with this,
there are also additional questions to obtain more information about the effects of using
these learning theories to teach to this SOL:
1.

How does fading scaffolding strategies impact each students ability to work
independently?

2.

How does problem-based learning impact each students ability to solve the
problem and apply his or her knowledge?

3.

How efficient was the ASSURE model for me as the instructional designer, action
researcher, and computer lab teacher?

4.

How well did the instructional design decisions support anticipated learning
outcomes?

Research Goal
Learners will create and present multimedia presentations (VDOE SOL C/T 35.2 A, bullet 3, 2013).

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

Lesson Objectives
During the lesson every student will be able to create and edit a multimedia
presentation using the scaffolding techniques: mirroring, modeling, peer support, and
thinking aloud. At the end of the lesson the third grade students will be able to create and
present a multimedia presentation independent of the instructor and scaffolding support,
and the students should be able to earn a score of least eighty percent or higher according
to the rubrics. The first objective is that learners will be able to access and effectively use
multimedia presentation software after engaging in problem-based learning strategies
such as brainstorming, peer learning, and problem solving. The second objective is that
learners will be able to create and present multimedia presentations independently and
without assistance after engaging in faded scaffolding techniques such as mirroring,
modeling, and thinking aloud. The third objective is that learners will meet or exceed
standard expectations by creating and presenting multimedia presentations and scoring at
least 80% on the lesson rubrics.
Lesson Tasks
In order to achieve the main goal, the learner will be able to do the following by
(a) mirroring what the researcher models while thinking aloud in week one; (b) following
a think aloud and peer support in weeks two and three; and (c) working independently
during week four. The tasks the learners are expected to complete include:
1. Launch the PowerPoint application.
2. Create a new slide.
3. Add text.
4. Add images.

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5. Add theme.
6. Format the text style and layout on a slide.
7. Solve the problem from the prompt.
The second goal of this lesson is for students to be able to present a multimedia
presentation. The tasks the learners are expected to complete in order to achieve this goal
include being able to:
1. Show a presentation full screen.
2. Navigate through the slideshow.
3. Follow basic presentation rules.
The research gap this study seeks to fill
Currently, there is a discrepancy in what third grade students at an elementary
school are learning and doing with computer technologies, and what the State of VA,
expects students to know and do in third grade. The Virginia Department of Education
(VDOE) has developed academic goals for each student in the State of Virginia to
achieve. One of these goals is for all students in third through fifth grade to be able to
create and present multimedia presentations (VDOE SOL C/T 3-5.2 A, bullet 3, 2013).
The students in third grade are currently just practicing keyboarding skills through drill
and practice activities when they are expected to complete tasks such as creating and
presenting multimedia presentations. The researcher plans to use scaffolding and
problem-based learning to support students in closing these gaps and meeting the
Virginia SOLs.

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The importance of this study


There are many important aspects of this study. The researcher will be able to
improve her teaching through action research practices, which are new to her, as well as
advancing her understanding of data-driven decision making. The researcher will be able
to specifically evaluate if using scaffolding and problem-based learning are effective and
efficient strategies for having students create and present multimedia presentations.
Through this action research study, the researcher will help students advance as learners.
Specifically, the researcher will help the students with meeting state expectations,
thinking in complex ways in teams, becoming more independent, and with building a
foundation for transfer of knowledge to other related situations and SOLs.

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Literature Review
The purpose of the literature review is to examine similar studies in order to
support and structure this research, as well as to provide background information about
the theories and ideas the researcher is using to support her research. The sections of this
literature review include: education and technology, Blooms taxonomy of the cognitive
domain, problem-based learning, scaffolding, and peer review. Education and technology
relate to the researchers study because the researcher is having the students use
technology and also because the researcher is trying to get the students to meet the
Computer/Technology SOL. The researcher is using Blooms taxonomy of the cognitive
domain to help guide the instruction and terminology used throughout the lesson.
Problem-based learning will be used to help make the information and learning process
more authentic for the students, and to help them in developing higher levels of critical
thinking skills. Scaffolding will be used in this research process to help assist students in
becoming independent learners. After the students complete their multimedia
presentations they will present them to their peers. During this time the students will
participate in a peer review and will complete a rubric to evaluate their peers
presentation skills.
Education and Technology
The National Center for Education Statistics (2005) reported that sixty-seven
percent of preschool students and eight percent of kindergarten students were using
computers in 2003 and even more students were using multimedia in higher-grade levels

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(as cited in Seigle, 2005). Lui (2011) explains, Multimedia refers to the integration of
different media such as text, graphics, animation, sound, video (digital or analog),
imaging, and spatial modeling into a computer system where appropriate (p. 251). Liu
used the research conducted by Mayer and his colleagues to support using multimedia
when teaching mathematics. Mayer and his colleagues conducted multiple studies
analyzing how multimedia impacts learning. They found there are two main goals of
multimedia learning: to remember and understand information. They also showed that
when compared with students who did not receive multimedia-based instruction, using
multimedia was better for both the retention and transfer of knowledge. Liu based his
research on the multitude of studies that have found that multimedia has a positive impact
on students in kindergarten through high school.
Liu (2011) conducted a study intended to improve mathematical learning for lowincome third grade students. He wanted to see if students math scores would be higher if
they switched from a lecture and textbook based approach to a problem-based and
multimedia approach of teaching. Liu used the National Council of Teachers of
Mathematics Standards to set his goals for his research. He also based his instruction
from the ADDIE model (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and
Evaluation). He chose to research the third grade students because they are the youngest
grade to be tested in mathematics under No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
Liu (2011) conducted two experiments, one using nines multiplication and the
other using geometric solids. Both experiments were implemented with two different
third grade classes. The study took place over a four-month timeframe. He received
permission from the principal and third grade math teachers before planning and

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implementing his research. In order to assess the results, Liu had the students do a
pretest-posttest design to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. This means that he
had the students complete a test both before and after the experiment to analyze what
they knew before the experiment, what they learned after the experiment; he then
compared both results. Observation was used during the experiments to identify students
attention level and the lessons were videotaped for further observations. The results
displayed that in both experiments the teachers and students had higher scores in their
post-tests than their pretests. Additionally, Liu found students were more engaged when
he used a projector along with an interactive whiteboard, than when they were without.
Blooms Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain
Weigel (2014) explains that throughout history, traditional style of teaching has
been when an instructor is at the center of learning and they are the source of knowledge.
In this traditional style of teaching the instructor typically stands in front of the learner
and then simply regurgitates their knowledge for the learner to absorb. In a traditional
style of teaching, the teachers are the knowledge holders who pass on their knowledge to
the learners. The learners in this case are considered to be a blank slate waiting to absorb
the knowledge delivered to them (Kong, 2002). Over time, researchers have discovered
that most students do not learn this way and they need to do more than just listening to
learn.
They found that this style of traditional learning often does not meet the learning
style of most students. In order to learn students must also read, write, discuss, or be
engaged in solving a problem. If an instructor wants his or her students to be able to
become engaged in higher-order thinking, they should use other teaching methods

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beyond always using a lecture, or even a lecture with a Powerpoint presentation (Weigel,
2014). This traditional style of teaching usually only focuses on low-level questions and
rote learning, it does not reach or teach students higher levels of thinking (Kong, 2002).
Bloom (1956) and his team of theorists conducted research that resulted in the
formation of six learning levels for categorizing the different degrees of the abstraction of
questions. They identified three domains of learning: cognitive, affective, and
psychomotor (Lord and Baviskar, 2013). For this specific research project, the researcher
will focus on the cognitive domain of Blooms when creating and applying instruction
during the research. Bloom created the taxonomy to be used as a measurement tool for
learning (as cited in Skiba, 2013). His goal was to develop a framework that would guide
teachers to help their students reach higher levels of thinking (Marley, 2014). His
taxonomy is helpful in directing the instructor to formulate questions to ask the learners
for assessment (Lord and Baviskar, 2007).
The levels are based on the degree of difficulty, which includes the recall or
recognition of knowledge, procedural patterns, and concepts that build intellectual
abilities and skills. Blooms taxonomy is shaped like a hierarchical triangle. The bottom
levels of the triangle include the more basic concepts and they form a foundation and
support for the higher levels. The reason most students forget what they have learned is
because instructors typically teach to the lower level of Blooms taxonomy, the
knowledge and comprehension levels (Lord and Baviskar, 2007).
A revised taxonomy was formed in order to change the category names from
nouns to verbs and also to reorder the levels. The levels, starting from the bottom,
include: remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating. The

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goal of doing this is to have students reach for, and accomplish the creating level of
Blooms. Remembering includes being able to recognize, identify, recall, and retrieve
information. The understanding level happens when students are able to interpret,
exemplify, classify, summarize, infer, compare, and explain information (Skiba, 2013).
Applying happens when students carry out their knowledge into a different situation than
from which they were taught. Analyzing occurs when students scrutinize their knowledge
and figure out how it relates and differs to their prior knowledge. Analyzing takes place
when students participate in discussions. It also happens during reflections when students
figure out what they might change in the past or what they will do in the future (Marley,
2014). The evaluation stage is when the learner makes judgments. It is part of the
cognitive process of checking and critiquing knowledge. Being able to critique something
is a key for establishing critical thinking skills (Skiba, 2013). The creating level happens
when students carry out their knowledge in the form of a new project (Marley, 2014).
The creating phase of Blooms requires the highest level of thinking. It allows for the
learner to apply their knowledge into practice. Creating takes generating ideas and
planning before completing a task (Skiba, 2013). Marley (2014) explains, an effectively
designed course will enable students to go through the learning sequence and will include
assignments that help students experience the learning sequence organically (p. 310).
Lord and Baviskar (2007) found that recent published studies show an increasing
number of college graduates are unable to use the information they have learned in their
sciences courses. They have supported their study with an article written in the New York
Times that reported that an increasing number of college graduates are unable to use the
information they have learned while in school. The same article also reported there was a

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large gap in what the students actually knew versus what the students could apply to a
situation. Also, they found that a vast amount of students could not even explain what
they learned. This study discovered that it did not matter what university the students
attended, even when they examined students from Harvard, the students had
misunderstandings about the basic concepts that they learned about in their science
courses.
To fix this problem, Lord and Baviskar (2007) encourage instructors to use the
middle and upper levels of Blooms taxonomy in order to get students thinking about the
content and their knowledge at a higher level. They found that sixty percent of questions
on college tests assess only at the knowledge (bottom) level of Blooms taxonomy. In
addition, they discored that only twenty percent of the questions are comprehension,
fifteen percent are application, and the questions at the analysis level were rarely used.
When using Blooms taxonomy, changing how instructors ask questions is not the only
thing they should do in order to truly increase learning. They also need to focus their
teaching more on the students, and have their students discover the information through
inquiry instead of just using traditional lectures. This is because students need to become
familiar with being challenged, and they need to apply what they know in order to have
fewer problems handling the challenges from upper-levels of Blooms taxonomy.
In Marleys (2014) research, they began with teaching the terms of the subject;
they started at the bottom level of Blooms. In order to reach higher levels of thinking the
final project was a creation of videos. They recognized that when they taught the course
covering all of the levels of Blooms taxonomy, students were going beyond what could
be achieved through just one test or game. Also by covering all of the levels, students had

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a more active role in creating a product that displayed their understanding of the material
and could establish higher levels of thinking. Overall the researchers found that when the
students understand the terms better, it helps them when they are solving real life
problems and applying their knowledge to new situations.
Problem-Based Learning
Because of the wide use of technology, the twenty-first century is being called the
knowledge-based society (Du-Gyu & JaeMu, 2014, p.41). Problem-based learning (PBL)
happens when students develop problem-solving strategies and increase their knowledge
about a certain topic. This method of using inquiry-based teaching has become more
widely used as teachers and schools have tried to improve student performance (Drake &
Long, 2009). With PBL the teacher is no longer the holder of all of the knowledge,
because they are instead a facilitator to guide student learning (Yu-Ju et al., 2010). In
PBL, the learner is in the center of instruction and the teacher is no longer the focus of
teaching (Balim, 2014). In problem-based learning, individuals construct their own
knowledge, provide solutions to the problem they have encountered in the beginning and
test their hypothesis (Balim, 2014, p. 458).
The purpose of PBL is to use authentic problems drawn from the learners
personal experiences. When teachers do this, it increases the interrelationships of learning
materials and allows for students to establish higher levels of critical thinking skills
compared with more traditional teaching methods (Du-Gyu & JaeMu, 2014). PBL uses
authentic problems in order for students to establish being able to think critically, and to
be able to use strategies to solve problems. PBL also helps students gain essential
knowledge about concepts being taught (Alcazar & Fitzgerald, 2005). PBL is more

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motivating for the learner because it allows for them to overcome an obstacle that results
in a more rewarding and engaging experience. Also, when the students solve real world
problems, they end up using higher-level skills such as critical thinking (Balim, 2014).
Du Gyu and JaeMu (2014) conducted a study with twenty-three fifth grade
elementary students over an eight-month time frame. Their study used experimental
research and it compared the abilities of the students through both pre and posttests. The
original method of teaching was more traditional where the students typically had to
remember basic information. There is a shortage of instructional strategies to help
develop information-processing skills. So for this study, the researchers used PBL with
elementary school students to see if this helped the students learn how to use PowerPoint
beyond just remembering basic terms. After conducting this study, there were significant
improvements in the students information-processing abilities. They found that their
information-processing abilities improved, because unlike the cramming method of
teaching that was being used previously, the students who were using PBL were required
to plan, solve, and figure out problems. Overall, their results displayed a large
improvement in students learning when they used PBL.
Drake and Long (2009) conducted a study using a quasi-experiment design with
fourth graders learning science. Half of them received PBL based instruction while the
other half received the same instruction in a thematic format. The researchers focused on
the students knowledge of the content, how the students stereotypically viewed
scientists, their time on task, and the transfer of their knowledge to other areas. They
found that although both of the groups had been provided with the same science content
and teaching resources, the group that participated in PBL did a better job at using

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problem-solving strategies. They discovered the significant growth in the experimental


groups content knowledge and the comparable content test scores in the comparison and
experimental groups four months after the teaching of the unit suggest that content
knowledge may not be compromised when using PBL (Drake & Long, 2009, p.11).
In order to test each students stereotypical views of scientists, the researchers had
students draw a picture of what they thought a scientist looked like. They found that after
receiving instruction the PBL group had fewer stereotypical images. The PBL group had
a greater percentage of students that viewed themselves as scientists compared with the
group that received their instruction in a thematic format. The researchers believe that
this is a result of the students actually engaging in authentic scientific tasks and roles.
When completing tasks, the researchers found that the students in the PBL group were
able to generate more problem-solving strategies when completing their tasks. Also,
when looking at the time spent on task, the PBL experimental group spent more time
being involved in solving authentic problems that was a result of them being more
engaged in their learning. The researchers explain this is an important finding because
Bloom found that students learn more when their time-on-task behavior is higher (Drake
& Long, 2009).
Norman and Schmidt conducted a survey and found that problem-based learning
may lead to increased knowledge retention (as cited in Yu-Ju et al., 2010). They
discovered it helps students transfer both concepts and knowledge to new problems and
students are more likely to be self-directed in their learning. Also, students are more
likely to establish a greater increase of interest in the subject being taught. However,
despite the many benefits that have been proven as a result of PBL, most of the research

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conducted has been focused on higher education; this why PBL is not a widely used
strategy yet.
Yu-Ju et al. (2010) conducted a study that was comprised of twenty-eight fourth
grade students who were randomly sampled from two different classes. They used a
mixed research methods approach, using both quantitative and qualitative data. In their
research, there were two observers who used digital video cameras to record and focus on
the participants. Also to collect data, the researchers gave the students pre and posttests
dealing with computational estimation skills. In order to incorporate the PBL concept in
these pre and posttests, the students were also required to write down the strategies they
used to solve real world problems. The researchers found that PBL helped students
develop their estimation skills in general, as well as improving their metacognition of the
estimation strategies. Because the study was short-term, they were unable to estimate the
impact of all PBL activities in the future for students; they were just able to determine
that PBL was successful for this specific activity.
In order to try to boost students interest in learning, Keith Ferrell (2010)
conducted research to examine the effectiveness of problem-based learning. Ferrell
explains that standard and basic book reports can be boring and dull for students that
could turn them away from reading. Ferrell brought attention to this problem by using
PBL to get his students more involved in their book reports. Ferrell, a technology
integration specialist, gave a group of fifth graders the challenge to make book reports
through creating video book trailers. He allowed for his students to choose their book and
then after they read it they created a storyboard using the table format in Microsoft Word.
Once those storyboards were completed, the students then searched for pictures to

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represent their books. Ferrell required the students to cite where they found the pictures
so they could add those citations to a credit page at the end of their movies. After
completing all of the planning tasks, he then had his students begin creating their books
trailers using Windows MovieMaker. First, the students arranged their saved photos, and
then they added transitions between their pictures. After doing that, they were then able
to add a title and credit page. Lastly, the students were able to add text and music to their
book trailer.
Ferrell (2010) explains that by doing this, it is providing a more exciting,
engaging, and an authentic way for students to present their information. Also, he has
discovered that it makes reading in general a more exciting experience. Another benefit
that has resulted from this project has been an increase of excitement about reading other
books after watching other students projects. Overall, the technology and use of a
problem-based scenario (creating the movie trailer from the book review) allowed for
students to bring the books they read to life. They were able to use their imaginations and
create a one-to-three minute trailer for everyone to enjoy and to make their books more
meaningful.
Scaffolding
The process of learning includes guiding learners through meaningful and
authentic activities where learners construct meaning of the process and content. In order
for students to truly learn, they need to be guided and mediated (Kong, 2002). When
using technology, it is essential that children have guidance. Scaffolding is supported by
research as being an impactful way for teachers to teach the knowledge and processes of
problem-solving, inquiry, and design projects. Also, it helps to engage students in their

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

23

learning. Wood, Bruner, and Ross were the first to identify and define scaffolding. They
defined it as a process that enables a child or novice to solve a problem, carry out a task,
or achieve a goal which would be beyond his unassisted effort (as cited in Chen et al.,
2012, p. 222). Scaffolding refers to the interaction between teachers and students. They
studied adult and child relationships between parents and children, as well as between
tutors and tutees. They discovered that adults provided scaffolding by constraining tasks,
modeling solutions, and prompting the learner to complete the tasks.
New learners will need a lot of guidance to learn how to use the technology and
find the information. Children need to be able to build on their knowledge and actually
use technology in order to learn. However, it is important that the teacher provides
structure and support for the children, but still provides enough space so the learner is
able to build their own knowledge and use their creativity to enhance their learning. In
order for learners to reach their goals they need to take risks. When students can finally
do something by themselves they typically feel accomplished and proud. Sometimes kids
just have to get out of their comfort zone and not be supported in order to accomplish this
feeling of achievement. Constantly providing scaffolding in order to make sure the kids
feel good is not protecting them; it is robbing them of the challenge to build persistence
and courage (Silver, 2011). In order to enhance learning teachers should provide
opportunities for students to build upon their experiences and make sense of their new
knowledge (Keengwe et al., 2014).
Scaffolding can be a powerful tool to use in the classroom. It is part of the
instructional process to enable instructors to provide support to learners who may not be
able to complete a task or learn new knowledge without support (Otrel-Cass et al., 2012).

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

24

Teachers can model the cognitive process by talking aloud. Also, they can try to generate
discussions and ask questions with the whole class or individually. Another way teachers
can use scaffolding is by demonstrating how to do something, or by demonstrating a
specific strategy.
Teaching techniques also include explicit teaching of information and problemsolving, inquiry, and design processes; asking questions; prompting/providing
individual and group feedback; focusing on students attention; highlighting key
aspects of the task; and directing actions to maintain engagement and motivation
(Chen et al., 2012, p. 222).
It is a major component of scaffolding for teachers to activate and build upon a
students prior knowledge. In order to successfully provide scaffolding for students,
teachers need to start with what the students already know and what they can
do. Scaffolding should be provided to support the knowledge, needs, and task demands
of the learner (Chen et al., 2012).
Research about cognitive scaffolding has indicated that when students are
provided with external support, guidance, and tools, it will help them to better process
and understand information. Modeling and coaching both support the learner through the
process of observation and guided practice. Another way of providing scaffolding is to
have the instructor repeat questions or instructions. Non-verbal forms of scaffolding refer
to gestures such as pointing or body movements. Scaffolding can also include materials
used to aid students in their learning. These tools can include technological tools,
physical artifacts, activity structures, etc. (Kangas et al., 2013).

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

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According to Silver (2011), basically everything associated with maximizing


student engagement, achievement, optimal learning environment, learning zone, and the
like can be attributed to the work of Lev Vygotsky (p. 30). Vygotsky was a Russian
Psychologist and a social constructivist. He is the person who coined the term zone of
proximal development (ZPD). This term can be pictured as a circle, and in the middle of
the circle is what the student can easily do without assistance. In the middle of the circle
is what a student can do with adult assistance. This is called ZPD, and is where the
student should receive scaffolding. In the outside of the circle is the area beyond the
students current ability range. ZPD is defined as,
...the students range of ability with assistance from an instructor or a more
capable peer. on the opposite ends of the range are the students present level of
comfortable mastery and the area totally beyond the students level at that current
time (Silver, 2011, p. 30).
Through his research, Vygotsky believed the role of education should be to give
children experiences within their ZPD. This would encourage students and would guide
them into advancing their individual learning. As cited in Winstone and Millward (2012),
Vygotsky found that learning is a social process; knowledge is developed through social
interaction. It can be extremely beneficial for students to learn through peer support so
they can share their knowledge and support each other.
An example of ZPD is having an adult model a behavior first. Then the student
should imitate the adults behavior. Next, the adult should phase out the direct instruction
given to the learner. Finally, the adult would offer feedback on a students performance
when they are no longer receiving any support. Vygotsky never actually used the term

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

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scaffolding, but that term has developed as a way to describe teachers who provide
guidance for their students. Scaffolding includes assessing students to see where their
prior knowledge is in relation to what the instructor wants to teach. It also includes
making sure the content taught is related to what the learner can already do.
Scaffolding is effective when breaking down the whole concept into smaller,
more manageable chunks. Winstone and Millward (2012) explain that through these
social interactions, the learner is able to reach higher levels of learning. Giving students
verbal cues and prompts to assist them in accessing their stored knowledge is another
important aspect of scaffolding. When providing scaffolding, it is vital for the instructor
to clearly emphasize vocabulary that may be new to the learner. The purpose of ZPD is to
continue raising the bar just a little beyond the learners reach while only giving them the
support he or she needs to make the leap to the next level. Because of this, ZPD is a
strategic tool for helping students stay motivated toward a given task (Silver, 2011).
According to Vygotsky, it is essential for students to have social interactions in order to
fully learn.
Interaction between the learner and others in their educational environment allows
them to traverse their zone of proximal development, moving from what they are
currently able to do to what they have the potential to do through interaction and
guidance (Winstone & Millward, 2012, p. 59).
Symons (2011) conducted a study that used Microsoft Word to teach math and to
see what happened when the instruction shifted from being teacher-centered to studentcentered. First he asked questions to get students thinking about what they already knew
about the content so they could build on their prior knowledge. He placed the instructions

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

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for the activity on the interactive white board so the students knew the expectations. The
instructions gave the students clear steps and visuals so they knew his exact expectations.
Next, he asked students leading questions about what strategies they would use, and
when they would use what they were about to learn. Then he demonstrated each step and
process of creating a Word document on the computer. At the same exact time, his
students were mirroring his actions on their own computers. He had to carefully use
scaffolding to help guide students to construct their own knowledge of the math content.
At the end of the lesson he asked the students a problem-based question relating to the
content, and immediately almost all of his students raised their hands to answer the
question because they now had a better understanding about the topic. By having students
develop their own knowledge, he found they were able to establish a more conceptual
understanding about the topic. There was a greater level of engagement during the
activity because of the use of technology. This also led to a high degree of ownership in
their work.
Scaffolding is done in order to help learners and is a temporary means of support.
Meyer (1993) established six features that are required for successful scaffolding which
includes: (1) relating new information to prior information; (2) transferring the
responsibility from the instructor to the student; (3) communication with the learner; (4)
focusing on the learners needs; (5) aligning the instruction to match the learners zone of
proximal development; (6) allowing for learner participation. The most important aspect
of scaffolding is the process of gradually releasing responsibility from the instructor to
the learner. This is because the whole purpose of scaffolding is for the learner to

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accomplish the task independently after initially requiring support (as cited by Kong,
2002).
Providing scaffolding gives support for the learner to help them cope with the
complexity of tasks. It is also important in order to keep the task whole while also
helping the learner to both understand and better manage achieving the task. By
decreasing scaffolding, also known as fading, students are becoming more responsible for
their own learning. As learners gain knowledge, less support is needed. This is why it is
important to keep instruction within a students zone of proximal development. (Collet,
2011). Research has suggested that fading encourages students to become more
independent in their learning. Scaffolding helps learners to complete a task and should be
faded in order to help learners develop their own knowledge and understanding about the
concept. Once the learner has mastered the concept they will be able to work
independently without any scaffolding (McNeill, 2006).
When starting with a new task that is unfamiliar to the learner, it is important to
provide maximum support immediately. By doing this, the learners task is then
simplified as the learner begins to gain more confidence. When tasks are difficult, the
learner will require extensive scaffolding in order to successfully complete the task.
Strategies can then be used to guide the students and to lead the student towards
completing the task independently (Collet, 2011). There are numerous strategies that can
be used to provide scaffolding. Studies have shown that strategies include both verbal and
nonverbal communication strategies. Verbal strategies include interactive lecturing,
modeling, mirroring, questioning, and using signs. Nonverbal strategies include using
story maps, think-sheets, writing prompts, materials, etc. In the classroom the most

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

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common methods of scaffolding strategies include: modeling, thinking aloud, reminding,


and coaching (Kong, 2002). Modeling is when the teacher demonstrates a behavior or
task for the students to learn. For example, the teacher in Kongs study modeled
behaviors such as asking questions and how to complete the specific task. By modeling,
the teacher was able to provide the students with an example of what they were supposed
to learn. It also provided a way for students to better understand how to accomplish the
task.
Thinking aloud is a verbal strategy that can be used in the classroom to provide
scaffolding to students. This method happens when an instructor models their thoughts.
Think alouds are the verbalizations of a persons thoughts while going through an activity
(Smith, 2006). The researcher plans to use scaffolding as a technique to get students
thinking about the reasons they are learning to use PowerPoint, as well as to get students
to think about why and how PowerPoint functions the way it does. This helps to provide
support to learners in order to guide them to achieving mastery of a task or concept. The
teacher in Kongs (2002) research used thinking aloud to direct students thinking and to
help guide them in thinking how they were going to accomplish the task. She would also
use questions to demonstrate how students should respond and to help guide their thought
process.
Developmental Level
Jean Piaget studied childrens cognitive development especially in relation to the
field of education. He researched the process by which intelligence and knowledge are
constructed from infancy, through childhood, and to adulthood. Piaget saw the mind as
self-organizing and believed that even as early as birth babies establish reflexes such as

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

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sucking, looking, and grasping (DeVries, 2004). He believed that a childs development
level depends on maturity, experiences, culture, and the ability of the child. Through his
research, he found that all people pass through each stage before starting the next one.
This means that no one skips any stages regardless of their ability levels. Piaget identified
four primary stages of development; sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational,
and formal operational. The sensorimotor stage is from birth until the development of
language. The preoperational stage begins at the start of language development. Concrete
operations stage happens when children use their senses in order to discover knowledge.
The formal operational stage is when the children are able to form hypotheses and think
about possible consequences (Ojose, 2008).
The children in the study will be in the concrete operational stage. At this stage
seriation is developed, which is the ability to order objects according to their length,
weight, or volume. Classification is also developed during this stage. It involves grouping
objects together based on a common characteristic. Hands-on experiences are important
for learning in this stage. Learners can perform basic operations such as classification and
the order of concrete objects. Concrete examples need to be used in order to teach
students, along with this manipulatives also are a helpful tool to help guide learning in
this stage (Ojose, 2008).
Peer Review
When children hear and see a visual presentation of another students work, it can
be a powerful tool for children, especially in preparing students for a world filled with
technology. Although students can learn from verbal instruction, Birnie (2014) explains

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31

that learning is increased when students also learn through visual images. Instruction
should be based around the students needs.
Peer review can be a motivating experience for students and it can help strengthen
their performance. In a study conducted by Birnie (2014) in a music classroom, rubrics
were provided throughout different stages of the lesson so that students knew the
expectations. Rubrics can be simple or complex; it just depends on the needs and levels
of the students. Also, different rubrics can be used to assess different qualities. So for the
purpose of this research, there will be two different rubrics: one for the researcher to use
to assess performance, and one for the students to use to assess each other. Birnie had
students participate in both peer feedback and peer grading. Students were given rubrics
in order to evaluate their peers presentations. When student provided comments, they
were required to only provide positive feedback.
Instructional Design Model
The researcher plans to use a classroom-oriented model for instruction. Teachers
normally use classroom-oriented models with students requiring instruction. Instructional
Design (ID) models are generally nonlinear guidelines to follow. In these models the
teacher needs to decide on an appropriate content, choose which teaching strategies they
are going to use, select and utilize media tools to support their instruction, deliver the
instruction, and then assess the learner (Gustafson & Branch, 2002).
The specific model the researcher will use is the Heinich, Molenda, Russell, and
Smaldino model (1999). This ASSURE model is an acronym for for: Analyze learners,
State objectives, Select media and materials, Utilize media and materials, Require learner
participation, and Evaluate and revise. Gustafson and Branch (2002) explain that, The

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relationships of its steps to authentic environment and its practical guidance and structure
make it easy to understand and apply (p. 24).
The first step of this model is for the teacher to analyze the learner. This stage
identifies the learners prior knowledge about the content that is going to be taught.
Heinich, Molenda, Russell, and Smaldino (1999) explain that teachers should analyze
general characteristics of students such as their grade level and cultural/economic factors.
The researcher has information about each students background information. They
should also analyze specific competencies such as the learners prior knowledge,
vocabulary, attitude, and misconceptions about the topic (Gustafson & Branch, 2002).
The researcher will be doing this through the pretest.
The second stage is to state the objectives. The objectives should be clearly
identified and should be able to be easily measured. This makes it clear to both the
instructor and learner about the desired outcomes of the instruction. Also in this stage, the
teacher will need to provide a rationale for their learning objectives. This will include the
strategies being used, the materials being selected, how and why the learner is being
assessed, and it includes communicating the intent of the instruction. When creating a
learning objective, it is helpful for teachers to remember to include all aspects of the
ABCD model. This stands for: audience, behaviors, conditions, and the degree
(Gustafson & Branch, 2002).
The third stage is to select material and media. It is understood that teachers use
other resources and materials to help support learning. So in this step, the teacher will
need to find the tools and resources they need in order to support their instruction when

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33

teaching learners. The fourth stage is to then utilize media and materials. This is when the
teacher decides how they plan to use the materials and media they have selected.
Then, the fifth step is to require learner participation. The vital part of this step is
to ensure the learners are actively involved. Feedback and practice are important aspects
that happen during this stage (Gustafson & Branch, 2002).
The sixth stage is to evaluate and revise; these are basically two different steps,
but they coincide. Teachers need to evaluate all of the stages in order to gain a better idea
about what worked or what they may need to improve. The teacher uses the evaluation
part to make sure the learner has reached the goals of the learning objective, and to
examine the feasibility of the instructional process. After the entire lesson has been
evaluated, the teacher can then move onto the revision part of this stage. Revision
happens when the teacher reflects on what did or did not work during the entire phase of
the lesson. This is important so the teachers can recognize what to do differently next
time and to make sure the students needs are being met (Gustafson & Branch, 2002).
The researcher plans to use all of the data collected from the study to reflect on her
teaching practices and methods. Also, she will do this by reflecting in her paper and when
writing recommendations for this research and practice.

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Methods
Purpose of Inquiry
The purpose of this study is to address the discrepancy in what third grade
students at an elementary school are learning and doing with computer technologies, and
what the State of VA, expects students to know and do. To assist students in advancing
from rudimentary keyboarding skills to more complex thinking required for creating and
presenting tasks, the researcher will use scaffolding and problem-based learning
strategies where students work together to solve complex problems, efficiently. The main
goal is for learners to independently create and present multimedia presentations
(VDOE SOL C/T 3-5.2 A, bullet 3, 2013). Five third grade classes will participate in this
study; there are approximately twenty students in each class. Every student will receive
the same instruction and will be assessed using the same methods.
By conducting this research, the researcher wants to know, how does the
instructional design intervention in this third grade computer classroom impact teaching
of, and learning about, creating and presenting multimedia presentations (VDOE SOL
C/T 3-5.2 A, bullet 3, 2013)? Along with this, there are also additional questions to
obtain more information about the effects of using these learning theories to teach to this
SOL:
2.

How does fading scaffolding strategies impact each students ability to work
independently?

3.

How does problem-based learning impact each students ability to solve the
problem and apply his or her knowledge?

4.

How efficient was the ASSURE model for me as the instructional designer, action

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

35

researcher, and computer lab teacher?


5.

How well did the instructional design decisions support anticipated learning
outcomes?

Proposed methods
The methods used in this study are designed for action research. Action research
is a type of inquiry that came from the field of education and is generally used by
teachers. Action research is the study of a social situation carried out by those involved
in that situation in order to improve both their practice and the quality of their
understanding (Wilson, 2013, p. 1). It involves a process of systematic inquiry that
allows for people to help others solve authentic problems they encounter during their
daily job routines (Hine & Lavery, 2014). Action research refers to a broad array of
approaches that focus on a practitioners practice (Cornelissen & van den Berg, 2014).
For over fifty years, it has been used across multiple continents. Hine and Lavery (2014)
explain, Action research is widely regarded as a powerful methodology to improve the
educative process (p. 162).
Action research is practical and can be used to inform teachers about their
practices. The purpose of action research is to solve some sort of problem or to examine
methods that are used in order to improve instruction. It is a process that helps
practitioners to gain insight about something specific relating to a practice-based
situation. Action research is typically conducted in order to improve the practitioners
learning and also to improve the situation that is being studied (Wilson, 2013). It can be
extremely helpful to teachers because it can be used to allow for them to develop their
own professional knowledge and also to improve their teaching (Cornelissen & van den

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36

Berg, 2014). Generally in action research, teachers use a repeated cycle of planning,
observing, and reflecting (Hine and Lavery, 2014). The researcher will imitate her
lessons after an instructional design model that uses this method of planning, observing,
and reflecting.
Convenience sampling was applied when selecting the participants. Convenience
sampling happens when the participants of the experiment are chosen based on their
proximity and willingness to participate. The researcher chose this sampling technique
not only because it was quick, but also because the researchers wanted to provide the
most accurate results for their specific school. One problem with this type of sampling is
it limits the generalizability and broadness of the study (Robinson, 2014). However,
because the researcher wants to collect data in order to better her school, convenience
sampling made the most sense.
The researcher plans to design her lesson using Heinich, Molenda, Russell, and
Smaldinos ASSURE instructional design model. The first step of the ASSURE model is
to analyze the learner. The researcher will do this by having the students take a pretest
using Google Forms. The researcher plans to use these pretests before the instruction in
order to gain a better understanding about where each students prior experiences are in
relation to creating and presenting a multimedia presentation. The researcher will also be
using the same test as a posttest at the end of the instruction in order to compare it with
the results of the posttest.
For the second stage, stating objectives, the researcher has formed multiple
learning objectives. During the lesson every student will be able to create and edit a
multimedia presentation using the scaffolding techniques mirroring, modeling, peer

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support, and thinking aloud. At the end of the lesson the third grade students will be able
to create and edit a multimedia presentation independent of the instructor and scaffolding
support, and the students should be able to receive a score of least eighty percent or
higher according to the rubrics. The first objective is that learners will be able to access
and effectively use multimedia presentation software after engaging in problem-based
learning strategies such as brainstorming, peer learning, and problem solving. The second
objective is that learners will be able to create and present multimedia presentations
independently and without assistance after engaging in faded scaffolding techniques such
as mirroring, modeling and thinking aloud. The third objective is that learners will meet
or exceed standard expectations by creating and presenting multimedia presentations and
scoring at least 80% on the lesson rubrics.
The other part of this step is to select the media and materials. The researcher has
selected using Microsoft PowerPoint and iMac computer because they are accessible and
are what is available to use in the computer lab where the lesson will occur. The next
stage is to utilize the media and materials selected, and then the following step is to
require learner participation. The researcher plans to utilize the media and materials, and
involve learner participation by having each student construct their own PowerPoint
presentations.
The final step is to evaluate and revise the lesson. During this stage the researcher
plans to assess achievement/change in test scores, evaluate the instructional materials,
and evaluate the scaffolding strategies used. The researcher will do this by comparing the
results from the pretest and posttest, using the notes from the observations, as well as
scoring students using rubrics to assess their PowerPoint creations and their

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presentations. The researcher will use all of this data to decide what strategies were
effective and where there could still be improvements in the instruction.
The researcher will use PBL to guide students in order to provide a more
meaningful and authentic learning experience for the students. The students will be
provided with a prompt that has a problem to solve (Appendix A). In order to introduce
PBL, the instructor will first explain the prompt. Then, the teacher will pass out the
prompt so that each student has a sheet when they need to refer to the prompt. Also on
the prompt will be a guide that provides information about simple machines. Because the
researcher is not assessing students on the SOL related to simple machines, the students
will be given a reminder chart with pictorial descriptions of each simple machine. Next,
the students will have ten minutes to discuss their solutions in small groups of three of
four students. The research will assign these groups according to the students location,
so the students will be collaborating with those students who already sit near them. This
way time will not be wasted having students move around the room or trying to pick out
groups. After this, the students will begin working on creating their presentations in
relation to the prompt. Throughout the lesson the students will be receiving faded
scaffolding support through mirroring, modeling, thinking aloud, and peer support.
During the four-week time-span of this action research project, each third grade
class will visit the computer lab four times (once a week for forty-five minutes). Figure 1
illustrates the tasks that will be completed each week. For more information, see the
detailed chart in Appendix B.

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

39

Figure 1. The lesson timeline.


In the first week, before the students have received any instruction, they will take
a pre-test. Also during the first week, the students will watch the instructor demonstrate
PowerPoint, and then will also participate in mirroring the PowerPoint instruction. The
researcher will be addressing the remembering, understanding, and applying stages of
Blooms Taxonomy during this time.
In the second week, the students will continue mirroring the instructors tasks
while demonstrating how to use PowerPoint. After the quick review, the instructor will
introduce the prompt to the problem they will be expected to address through their
multimedia presentations. The students will then work in groups of three or four to
brainstorm, discuss, and solve the problem. Then, the students will start creating their
PowerPoint presentations. During this time, the instructor will provide scaffolding
support through thinking aloud, mirroring, and from peer support. This lesson, as well as

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the rest of the lessons, will cover all of the levels of Blooms Taxonomy (remembering,
understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating).
The students will have the entire third lesson to work on creating their PowerPoint
presentations. While they are doing this, the instructor will use thinking aloud and peer
support to provide scaffolding.
In the fourth lesson, the students will have a short amount of time to finish
creating their PowerPoint presentations, before they take the posttest. The posttest will be
the same test as the pretest in order to analyze the changes. Once the students finish
taking the posttest, they will then participate in peer review to present and evaluate the
presentations. During the fourth lesson, the instructor will only use thinking aloud and
peer support as needed, because the instructor is expecting the students to be able to work
independently by this time.
Evidence
The researcher will use pre and posttest measures to record student competencies,
an observation form to record data about questions the students asked in regards to PBL,
and a chance to record any extra notable observations, and a rubric designed to measure
the presentations students create. Students will use a rubric for peer-review during
presentation delivery. Finally, the researcher will use reflective prompts to record her
thoughts at the end of the study.
Pretest and posttest. Because the researcher has created the instruction with a
focus on recognition and recall, she will assess student prior knowledge regarding
vocabulary and fundamental concepts relating to creating and delivering a multimedia
presentation. To do this, the researcher will create a quiz using Google Forms (Appendix

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

41

C). The researcher has planned for just ten to fifteen minutes for the students to complete
the quiz. Following the lesson, the researcher will have the students complete a posttest
with the same questions in order to assess the changes in each students progress
(Appendix C). The pre and posttest assess each students prior knowledge in regards to
multimedia presentations, their ability to independently create and present a multimedia
presentation, and their ability to solve problems in regards to multimedia presentations.
Observations. During the lesson, the researcher will randomly observe and
collect data for four students, about twenty percent of the class. Because of time
constraints, and because the researcher wants to focus on providing instruction, a sample
size will be used to collect data about the effectiveness of the different scaffolding
techniques and methods used during the lesson. The researcher will use the instructor
observation sheet to provide data about questions the students asked in regards to PBL,
and it will be used to record any extra notable observations. In order to remain as
unbiased as possible, the researcher will use a computer-based random number generator
to pick which students will be observed during the class period.
Peer evaluation. During the fourth week, after the students should have
completed both creating and presenting their PowerPoint presentations, the students will
use a peer evaluation method of assessing each students PowerPoint presentation. The
students will do this in groups of three or four. Each student will take turns delivering his
or her multimedia presentations. When not presenting they will observe the others, and
then complete a rubric to review the peer presentations. Each person will be given about
three minutes to present his or her information. Then, the students will have a couple of
minutes to finish filling out their peer review rubrics (Appendix D). Peer evaluation is

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42

beneficial in this situation because it allows for students to see how other students have
solved the problem presented earlier in the study, how they created their presentation, and
how others presented their material. It is also necessary in this situation because of the
time constraints; the researcher would not have enough time to observe each students
presentation in the tight timeframe allowed for this applied research project.
Instructor rubric: creating a multimedia presentation. Following the lessons,
the researcher will assess each students multimedia presentation by using an instructor
PowerPoint evaluation rubric (Appendix E). The students will be given a final score
based on their ability to independently and successfully complete each task.
Final reflection. The researcher will answer seven questions in regards to the
ASSURE model and the instructional design decisions (Appendix F). The purpose of this
reflection is for the researcher to analyze how efficient the ASSURE model was for her
as an instructional designer, action researcher, and computer lab teacher. They are also
important because they provide an opportunity for the researcher to analyze the
instructional design strategy used, and make suggestions for future instruction.
Data sources and methods of data collection
Research Questions:
How does fading scaffolding strategies
impact each students ability to work
independently?

Data Collection Instruments:

How does problem-based learning impact


each students ability to solve the problem
and apply his or her knowledge?

How efficient was the ASSURE model for

Instructor observational chart


Instructor rubric: creating a
multimedia presentation
Pretest
Posttest

Instructor observational chart


Instructor rubric: creating a
multimedia presentation
Pretest
Posttest
Final reflection

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

me as the instructional designer, action


researcher, and computer lab teacher?
How well did the instructional design
decisions support anticipated learning
outcomes?

43

Instructor rubric: creating a


multimedia presentation
Pretest
Posttest
Peer review rubric
Instructor observational chart
Final Reflection

Limitations, Validity, and Generalizations


One large limitation of this study is that the researcher will only have four, fortyfive minute class periods with the students. This is a busy time of the year because
students are preparing for the SOL tests in the spring. Although the students will be
learning Computer/Technology SOLs, these SOLs are not covered on the formal
assessment that they students will take in May. Instead, students will be required by the
school to focus on SOLs in other content areas at various points this semester.
There are various threats involved in this study. One threat is mortality because
the researcher cannot control who is present at school during a specific time. For
example, some of the participants may be sick at home and would not be able to
participate, which is something out of the researchers control. The researcher is
assuming the majority of the students will be present throughout the entire four-week
study so that there will be enough sufficient evidence to provide answers to the
researcher's questions.
As well as mortality, the weather is another uncontrollable threat to the study.
Snow days or two-hour delays may cause the time-span of the study to have to be
extended or reduced. Another threat would be if parents do not sign and return the
consent form required to participate in the study. If they do not turn in a signed form, the

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

44

students will still participate in the instruction because this is something they would be
doing during this time otherwise; however, data will not be collected on these students.
There are subject characteristics that pose as threats in this research as well. For
example, some subjects may have behavioral disabilities that could affect the results of
the study. Another potential threat to this study is the history of each subject. Subjects
may have prior experience with using the programs so they might not have any areas of
improvement. This is why the researcher will allow for students to be creative with the
visual design of their PowerPoint.
Using a specific rubric when analyzing student-created multimedia presentations
can reduce data collector bias, and the rubric will reduce student bias in the peer review
process. Interacting with the students as little as possible during their pretest and posttest
assessments may also reduce data collector bias. It is tempting for teachers to assist
students who have difficulties, but by refraining, a truer sense of student competencies
will emerge.
Evaluation
Following the study, the researcher will look for emerging themes, categories and
patterns in findings on the instructor observational chart, and on the final reflection. The
researcher will look for change in the pre and posttest scores, particularly on questions
that relate to each students competence, independence, and ability to solve problems in
relation to creating and presenting a multimedia presentation. The researcher will
compare findings from the pre and posttest, as well from the instructor rubric and the peer
review rubric to know if scores are generally consistent in the areas of being able to
independently create and present a multimedia presentation. The researcher can then

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

45

address any gaps or weaknesses by making changes to the instructional design and
strategies when helping students achieve the Computer/Technology SOLs, and also when
helping students to enhance their learning.
The instructor will assign each student a number and a letter in order for
identification purposes. They will use this identification, along with their names, on all of
their documentation. The researcher will use their number and letter to track all of their
data. That way the researcher can identify the students, but the students data will be
unidentifiable for anyone other than the researcher. The student will also be using their
names on their assessment in order to make sure the students are typing the correct
numbers and letters. Being able to track the participants is important for the researcher to
accurately analyze the data. The researcher will use descriptive statistics to analyze the
data. This will be used to analyze the pre and posttest, as well as the peer review rubric
and the instructor PowerPoint rubric.

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

46

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Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

50

Appendix A
Problem-based learning prompt
Help!

We need a simple machine to move the couch up the stairs. Which one do you pick, and
how are you going to use it to move it up the stair? Create a PowerPoint presentation to
show your answer. To work on your presentation, you will have the rest of today and the
whole computer lab time next week.
Simple Machines Reminder:

https://sites.google.com/site/swansen304/simplemachinesall.jpg

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

Requirements

You need to be able to


1.

Choose a simple machine to use

2.

Decide how you will get the machine to the second floor

3. Launch Powerpoint
4. Choose a theme for your Powerpoint
5. Create multiple new slides
6. Add images to each slide
7. Add text to each slide
8. Change the text color and size
9. Present your presentation to your classmates

51

52

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

Appendix B
The Lesson Timeline
Week 1:
When

Task

Who

Where

(Week 1)

(students)

12:15-

Taking a

Students-

Google

12:30

Pre-test

take test

Form

Scaffoldin

Level of

g Strategy

Blooms

N/A

Rememberi Results
ng and

Teacher-

understandi

monitors

ng

12:30-

Watching a

Students-

Using

Modeling

12:40

PowerPoint watch and

projector

ng and

demonstrati ask

on

understandi

on

questions

SmartBoar

ng

Teacher-

Data

from test

Rememberi Observatio
ns

models
how to use
ppt
12:45-100

Mirroring a Students-

Projector

Modeling

Rememberi Observatio

demonstrati mirror and

on

and

ng,

on

SmartBoar

mirroring

understandi

do exactly

ns

53

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

what

d and on

ng, and

teacher is

each

applying

doing

students

Teacher-

individual

demonstrat

computers

es tasks on
projector

Week 2

When

Task

Who

(Week 2)

(students)

12:15-

Reviewing

Scaffoldin

Level of

g Strategy

Blooms

Projector

Modeling,

Rememberi Observatio

12:25

PowerPoint mirror

on

mirroring

ng,

teachers

SmartBoar

and think

understandi

tasks and

d and on

aloud

ng, and

ask

each

questions,

students

Teacher-

individual

demonstrat

computers

Students-

es ppt and
thinks

Where

applying

Data

ns

54

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

aloud
12:25-

Listening

Students-

Computer

Think

Rememberi Observatio

12:30

to an

listen and

Lab

aloud, peer

ng and

introductio

ask

support

Understand

n about

questions

PBL

Teacher-

ns

ing

Explains
what the
problem is,
tells
students
they will
brainstorm
w/ peers,
tells them
they will
make their
own ppt
12:30-

Participatin Students-

Different

Think

Analyzing

12:40

g peer

Work

parts of the

aloud, peer and

collaborati

together in

computer

support

on

groups of

lab

Evaluating

Observatio
ns

55

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

three to
four to
brainstorm
how to
solve
problem
TeacherWalks
around and
helps
students
12:40-1:00

Working

Students-

Students

Think

on creating

Work

individual

aloud and

ns and

independen computers

peer

analyzing

support

final ppt

PowerPoint tly on ppt


presentatio

Teacher-

walks
around to
help and
observe
students

All

Observatio

project

56

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

Week 3
When

Task

Who

Where

(Week 3)
12:15-1:00

Scaffoldin

Level of

g Strategy

Blooms
All

Data

Working

Students-

Individual

Think

Observatio

on creating

work on

computers

aloud and

ns and

a ppt

creating

peer

analyzing

presentatio

ppt

support

final ppt

Teacher-

project

walks
around to
help and
observe
students

Week 4
When

Task

Who

Where

Scaffoldin

Level of

g Strategy

Blooms

Individual

Think

Creating

computers

aloud

Data

(Week 4)

(student)

12:15-

Finish

Students-

12:20

working on

work on

ppt

creating

analyzing

ppt

final ppt

Observatio
ns &

57

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

Teacher-

project

walks
around to
help and
observe
students
12:25-

Take the

Students-

Google

12:35

post-test

take test

Form

N/A

Rememberi Test results


ng/Underst

Teacher-

anding

monitors
12:40-1:00

Share ppt

Students-

Group

Peer

(3 minutes

presentatio

In groups

members

support

for each

of three to

go to the

evaluation

presentatio

four share

presenters

sheets

n= 12-15

presentatio

computer

min, 10

ns

minutes

Teacher-

throughout

walks

for

around and

transition

observes

and
observation

All

Observatio
ns and peer

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

s)

58

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

Appendix C
Pretest and Posttest

These are images of the test that will be hosted on Google Forms.

59

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

60

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

Appendix D
Peer Review Rubric

61

62

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

Appendix E
Instructor PowerPoint Rubric

PowerPoint Rubric ____/21 points

Student name:_________________
Student number/letter: ___________

Tasks-Create

Incomplete

Completed with

Completed with

Completed

(0 points)

a lot of

Some

Independently

Scaffolding

Scaffolding

(3 points points)

Support

Support

(1 point)

(circle which
scaffolding
methods were
used)
(2 points )

Launch the

The student

The student was

The student was

The student was

PowerPoint

could not

able to complete

able to complete

able to

Application

complete the

the task but

the task but

independently

task, even after

required help

required help

launch the

being provided

multiple times

from scaffolding

PowerPoint

63

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

both methods of

from scaffolding

scaffolding.

support.

Create a New

The student

Slide

Add Text

Add Images

at least one time.

application.

The student was

The student was

The student was

could not

able to complete

able to complete

able to

complete the

the task but

the task but

independently

task, even after

required help

required help

create and add a

being provided

multiple times

from scaffolding

new slide into

both methods of

from scaffolding

at least one time.

their

scaffolding.

support.

The student

The student was

The student was

The student was

could not

able to complete

able to complete

able to

complete the

the task but

the task but

independently

task, even after

required help

required help

add text to their

being provided

multiple times

from scaffolding

slideshow.

both methods of

from scaffolding

at least one time.

scaffolding.

support.

The student

The student was

The student was

The student was

could not

able to complete

able to complete

able to

complete the

the task but

the task but

independently

task, even after

required help

required help

add images to

being provided

multiple times

from scaffolding

their slideshow.

presentation.

64

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

Add a Theme

Format the Text

both methods of

from scaffolding

scaffolding.

support.

The student

The student was

The student was

The student was

could not

able to complete

able to complete

able to

complete the

the task but

the task but

independently

task, even after

required help

required help

add a theme to

being provided

multiple times

from scaffolding

their slideshow.

both methods of

from scaffolding

at least one time.

scaffolding.

support.

The student

The student was

The student was

The student was

able to complete

able to complete

able to

complete the

the task but

the task but

independently

task, even after

required help

required help

format the text

being provided

multiple times

from scaffolding

style (font,

both methods of

from scaffolding

at least one time.

color) and the

scaffolding.

support.

Style and Layout could not

at least one time.

layout of the
page.

Problem Solving

The student did

The student was

The student was

The student was

(PBL)

not address the

able to complete

able to complete

able to

problem stated in the task but

the task but

independently

the prompt, even

required help

create a solution

required help

65

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

after being

multiple times

from scaffolding

to the problem as

provided

from scaffolding

at least one time.

stated in the

support.

support.

prompt.

Using PBL and Scaffolding Strategies to Support Student Learning

Appendix F
Final Reflection

To be filled out by the researcher once the study is completed.

1. As an instructional designer was the ASSURE model efficient?


2. As an action researcher was the ASSURE model efficient?
3. As a computer lab teacher was the ASSURE model efficient?
4. How much time was required to complete each ASSURE step?
5. How much time was required to complete each step in class?
6. What were the strengths and weaknesses of the instructional design strategy?
7. How could the instructional strategy be improved for the next time?

66