Instructional Design Models And Theories: Anchored Instruction

The Quintessential Of Anchored Instruction

Anchored instruction is directly linked to the idea of inert previous knowledge, that is knowledge people already have but they do not recall unless they are prompted to do so. Anchored instruction urges learners to retrieve this knowledge in order to solve problems related to the subject matter under study. Learning is enhanced when learners are able to collect information and acquire knowledge while they are striving to understand and solve problems that may arise within specific scenarios or situations based on the previous knowledge they probably have. When they lack previous knowledge, they can only memorize new facts. An anchored-based instructional design gives learners the opportunity, from the very beginning, apart from memorizing new information, to also understand how and where newly acquired knowledge can be applied, minimizing this way the possibility of its becoming inert.

3 Main Principles Of The Anchored Instruction Educational Model And Its Application To eLearning Course Design

Anchored Instruction is also closely tied to Case-Based Learning and Situated Learning. In essence, learners are immersed in a story or scenario that allows them not only to explore a particular problem, but also to acquire skill sets that can be used in the real world. Principal elements of an instructional design based on the Anchored Instruction Educational Model are:

  1. Anchor-based scenarios.
    All lessons should be centered around what is known as an “anchor”. This anchor is typically a problem solving scenario or case study. For example, one story may revolve around a mystery that must be solved, which includes the use of mathematical equations. Applied to eLearning, today, although today it’s not called anchored instruction, the model forms the basis for scenario-based learning, which allows learners to follow different learning paths and to obtain experience in alternative solutions in a risk-free environment.
  2. Discovery learning.
    Another basic principle of the anchored instruction approach is that the curriculum that is used should always allow learner to explore and delve into the problem or scenario. The same principle can also be applied to the instructional design for eLearning, by following a constructivistic approach where knowledge is constructed, by integrating eLearning activities that turn each learner into an active participant in the scenario, rather than a passive overlooker.
  3. Extensive use of multimedia.
    The use of multimedia programs or tools is highly encouraged when following an anchored instruction approach. The Cognition and Technology Group explained that the videos created, had been intended to recreate interesting, engaging, and realistic content that encouraged “active construction” of knowledge. Their videodiscs, of that time, when compared to verbal presentations, lectures, or textbooks, provided learners with a way to explore a particular topic in a more interesting way, instead of merely reading about it or being relayed the information from the instructor. Today, the use of multimedia is taken for granted in eLearning. Smaller file size and more advanced technology have improved the quality of the eLearning content and have a positive impact both on the effectiveness of the eLearning course and learners' satisfaction from their eLearning experience.

Last, but not least, in order to be effective, “anchors” should enable learners to identify critical elements of the learning situation that need further investigation or activation of their previous knowledge. Anchored instruction must also intrinsically motivate learners by providing interesting activities within context, challenging enough to initiate the discovery learning process.

Today, anchored instruction can be used in a wide variety of subject matters, particularly those designed to encourage the development of reasoning skills. Its principles are still in use in instructional design, especially for case-studies presented as branching scenarios and other type of eLearning activities that require learners’ active participation. In such cases, the instructional design normally follows a constructivist discovery learning approach appropriate for all age groups that is strongly recommended for eLearning courses addressing to adult learners.

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  • Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (2000) Adventures in Anchored Instruction: Lessons From Beyond the Ivory Tower. Advances in Instructional Psychology (Volume V. pp. 35-100). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates,
  • Zech, L., Vye, N., Bransford, J. Goldman, S., Barron, B., Schwartz, D., Hackett, R., Mayfield-Stewart, C. & CTGV (1998). An introduction to geometry through anchored instruction. In R. Lehrer & D. Chazan (Eds.), New directions in teaching and learning geometry. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1996). Anchored instruction and situated cognition revisited. In H. McLellan (Ed.), Situated learning perspectives (pp. 123-154) Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publishers. Reprint: Educational Technology, 33(3), 52-70.
  • Bransford, J.D., with the Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1994). Generative learning and anchored instruction: Design, research and implementation issues. In B. P. M. Creemers & G. J. Reezigt (Eds), New directions in educational research: Contributions from an International Perspective (pp. 33-62). Groningen: ICO.
  • Bransford, J.D. with Moore, J.L., Lin, X., Schwartz, D.L., Petrosino, A., Hickey, D.T., Campbell, J. O., Hmelo, C. & Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt [CTGV] (1994). The situated perspective: A reply to Tripp. Educational Technology, 34, 28-32. --Reprinted: The relationship between situated cognition and anchored instruction: A response to Tripp. In H. McLellan (Ed.), Situated learning perspectives (pp. 213-221) Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publishers.
  • Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1993, March). Anchored instruction and situated cognition revisited. Educational Technology, 33, 52-70.
  • Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1993). Toward integrated curricula: Possibilities from anchored instruction. In M. Rabinowitz (Ed.), Cognitive science foundations of instruction (pp. 33-55). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1992). Anchored instruction approach to cognitive skills acquisition and intelligent tutoring. In W. Regian & V. J. Shute (Eds.), Cognitive approaches to automated instruction (pp. 135-170). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
    Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1992). The Jasper series as an example of anchored instruction: Theory, program description, and assessment data. Educational Psychologist, 27, 291-315.
  • Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1992). Anchored instruction in science and mathematics: Theoretical basis, developmental projects, and initial research findings. In R. A. Duschl & R. J. Hamilton (Eds.), Philosophy of science, cognitive psychology, and educational theory and practice (pp. 244-273). New York: SUNY Press.
  • Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1990). Anchored instruction and its relationship to situated cognition. Educational Researcher, 19(6), 2-10.
  • Dr. John D. Bransford - University of Washington
  • THEORY NAME: Anchored Instruction
  • Cognitive Constructivism & Social Constructivism: Anchored Instruction
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