The Jasper Series & Anchored Instruction

The theoretical framework underlying The Jasper Series is situated learning, in which knowledge is “contextually situated” and “influenced by the given activity” (Shyu, 2000). For the student, learning occurs through the use of generative activity and cooperative, social learning situations. Specifically, The Jasper Series utilizes anchored instruction which helps develop and apply “confidence, skills, and knowledge” a contextual, meaningful problem-solving activity (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1992). Through this curricula, the classroom nurtures a student-centered lesson with the teacher encouraging students to develop skills and knowledge as a guide and not a dispenser of information.

Technology plays a role in enhancing the “emphasis on developing problem solving skills, communication, and reasoning” (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1992). The Jasper Series is composed of seven features, one of which is utilizing a multimedia, video-based format that provides the basis for introducing the problem and following the lessons that follow and. These videos serve as the basis of a realistic story or context. In this scenario, technology is used as a motivating factor for students and aims to support complex understanding in the classroom. Further, the video supports reading, especially for students that may otherwise struggle with verbal instruction.

Personally, I have not heard of The Jasper Series prior to the videos and readings. The Jasper Series can be viewed as two distinct parts. One component is the strategy involving problem-based learning in the classroom. It’s clear from other experiments (Shyu, 2000 and Prado and Gravoso, 2011) that problem-based is an effective strategy to motivating and maximizing learning in the classroom. The second component from the series is the use of technology to initiate the problem. I wonder about the inclusion of technology and whether it is actually being used to its maximum potential. We use a very similar problem-based strategy at our school. Students are provided a problem and they have to solve through a series of processes and investigations. The primary difference, however, is that we don’t use a video clip to begin the problem; typically, we demonstrate or show students a problem. For example, in the Physics unit of Science 9, we demonstrate a complex circuit board (with light bulbs, resistors, etc.) that initially does not light up but does after several manipulations of the board. An extension that other teachers have used to this problem is having a model house and applying a similar circuit and students have to solve why certain bulbs do not function.   I would argue that, similar to the video, having a model or demo for students to examine also provides a real-world context for students. Ultimately, the question becomes how can technology be effectively used beyond enhancing the classroom and instead elevate the lesson?


Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1992). The Jasper experiment: An exploration of issues in learning and instructional design. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 40(1), 65-80.

Prado, M.M., & Gravoso, R.S. (2011). Improving high school students’ statistical reasoning skills: A case of applying anchored instruction. Asia-Pacific Education Research (De La Salle University Manila), 20(1).

Shyu, H.Y.C. (2000). Using video-based anchored instruction to enhance learning: Taiwan’s experience. British Journal of Educational Technology, 31(1), 57-69.



  1. Hi Darren,

    Can you clarify this statement in your posting?: “Further, the video supports reading, especially for students that may otherwise struggle with verbal instruction.” I would have stated the opposite – that the video supports those who struggle with reading, especially for those who are auditory learners. I realize that there is some reading necessary in order to spot clues, but I feel like I’m missing something that you noticed. Can you elaborate on your point?

    ~ Jessica

    1. Hi Jessica,

      I apologize for not writing clearer – the flu seems to be impeding my thoughts!

      Naturally, the video will primarily help weaker or poor students. However, the authors hypothesized that part of the design feature is that the videos could also support reading as well (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1992, p.69). Unfortunately, the article does not provide further details on this hypothesis (at least I failed to notice any) but I gather it meant that depending on the context of the assignment the videos could help reinforce any written instruction provided by the teacher or to spot clues, as you mentioned.

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