Academic journal article Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia

The Use of Embedded Scaffolds with Hypermedia-Supported Student-Centered Learning

Academic journal article Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia

The Use of Embedded Scaffolds with Hypermedia-Supported Student-Centered Learning

Article excerpt

There is growing evidence that student-centered learning activities promote the development of higher-order skills such as critical thinking and problem solving. However, there are difficulties associated with supporting student-centered learning. These problems have led to the proposal that additional aids, or scaffolds, are needed to assist students engaged in this type of learning. Scaffolds are tools, strategies, and guides, which support students in attaining a higher level of understanding; one that would be impossible if students worked on their own.

Although there are many descriptive discussions and reports outlining how scaffolds have been used, there is little empirical research dealing with the types of scaffolds needed for student-centered learning activities or how students use scaffolds to support the tasks they need to accomplish. The purpose of this article is twofold. First, the types of scaffolds embedded into Decision Point!, a hypermedia database dealing with the African-American civil rights movement is described. These scaffolds were designed to support students in a research activity using the database as a resource. Second, how the scaffolds were used to complete the activity are discussed, and the types of scaffolds that were most successful at assisting students with gathering and synthesizing information available in the database, and with assisting with group self-regulation are explored.

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Student-centered learning activities are designed to provide students with opportunities to take a more active role in their learning by shifting the responsibilities of organizing, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating content from the teacher to the student (Means, 1994). While there is growing evidence that student-centered learning activities promote the development of higher-order skills such as critical thinking and problem solving (Alper, Fendel, Fraser, & Resek, 1996; Barab & Landa, 1997; Gallagher & Stepien, 1996; Savery & Duffy, 1995), there are difficulties associated with supporting student-centered learning. For example, the content and activities used to promote student-centered learning many times do not provide enough structure to adequately guide students towards successful completion of classroom activities, thus increasing student disorientation and frustration (Brush & Saye, 2000; Hannafin, Land, & Oliver, 1999).

From the perspective of the student, succeeding with student-centered activities require a different set of skills than those needed to succeed in more typical classroom activities (Glasgow, 1997; McCombs & Whisler, 1997). In more traditional teacher-centered activities, the teacher is generally responsible for establishing goals and objectives for students. Students succeed at the assigned task by meeting the predefined objectives (Bednar, Cunningham, Duffy, & Perry, 1992). In contrast, student-centered activities require students to set meaningful goals for completing the activity and assume more responsibility for meeting those goals (Hannafin, Hall, Land, & Hill, 1994). This involves analyzing the problem presented to them and A second assumption about the student involves metacognitive skills such as self-management, monitoring, and evaluation (Brown, 1981; Palincsar, 1986; Palincsar & Brown, 1984). In student-centered activities, learners are expected to monitor their progress in order to determine if t he strategies they are using to accomplish their goals are effective (Glasgow, 1997; Hannafin, Hill, & Land, 1997; Palincsar & Brown, 1984). Thus, students who are not effective self-managers may find themselves overwhelmed by the scope of the activity, not knowing what types of information are important to examine, what to do with the information once it has been located, or if the information they have found helps them with solving a problem or completing an activity (Brush & Saye, 2000; Glasgow, 1997; McCombs & Whisler, 1997). …

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