I’d like to tackle the first question posted in this week’s discussion activity:
What perceived issue or problem are the Jasper materials responding to? Do you agree that this is an issue or problem? What does the current literature that you have read say about this issue? How is this issue addressed in the design of the Jasper materials? In what ways do contemporary videos available for math instruction and their support materials (c.f. Khan Academy, Crash Course, BBC Learn “Classroom Clips” and “Academic Earth”, video clips in Number Worlds, or others) address or not address these issues?
What perceived issue or problem are the Jasper materials responding to?
Jasper series videos respond to the lack of interesting real world problems in the classroom. The videos provide a creative way for students to work together and solve complex problems. The creators even go further and suggest the students are not alone in this adventure by suggesting other schools and other students just like them are trying right now to save the eagle!
Do you agree that this is an issue or problem?
Yes and no. I do agree with the issue that classrooms need to have more instruction that places students in an environment where they have to work together to solve complex problems. However, without the proper support and background knowledge, it becomes just too easy for students to construct the wrong kind of knowledge. Park and Park (2012) when commenting on Problem-Based Learning (PBL), that is essentially the category the Jasper series falls under, argue that, “…students [fail] to learn essential concepts and principles, leaving them unable to construct the “right” knowledge required to solve real-life engineering tasks” (p. E14). These researchers criticize PBL in the engineering context because often times students fail to grasp the basic knowledge, that can lead them to construct knowledge in the group activities that may not even be accurate, let alone help them in any way on their job site.
Dana Bjornson and Darren Low also made great points in the post by Dana on depending on PBL as Dana suggested, “I would urge educators to digest methodologies like Jasper in small quantities. These approaches are not the magic pill that will solve all of our problems” (Bjornson, 2017). Darren also showed his reluctance in depending on Jasper series completely as he suggested he would be, “…a little more hesitant to use the series solely as a method of teaching a core concept” (Bjornson, 2017).
So in that terms, no, I don’t agree that the Jasper series is the only solution to help students learn. For the grade five to eight students: it is important to teach them basic math skills first so they have the knowledge to start problem solving on how to save the eagle.
What does the current literature that you have read say about this issue?
Park and Park (2012) assert the claim that PBL helps students become effective problem solvers but warn of “…their ineffectiveness to equip students with the basic and essential knowledge for problem-solving” (p. E17). On the contrary, there are researchers that are proponents of PBL and the Jasper Series. The Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (CTGV), creators of the Jasper series frame the need for this problem-based activity due to “…the concern about existing tests…not [seeming] very authentic” (CTGV, 1992). They also “…emphasize the benefits of anchoring or situating instruction in meaningful problem-solving contexts that allow one to simulate in the classroom some of the advantages of apprenticeship learning” (p. 69). Moreover, the CTGV group (1992) explains use of the Jasper series helps “…students and teachers [make] learning more meaningful because they understand when, why, and how to use various procedures, concepts, and skills” (p. 78). Shyu (2000) conducted a study to ascertain the effects of video based anchored instruction in Taiwanese classrooms, a culture where memorization and studying to the test or exam are highly valued for students to attend the best universities. Shyu (2000) discovered “…video-based anchored instruction [provided] a more motivating environment that [enhanced] students’ problem-solving skills” (p. 57). So it appears the literature summarizes that indeed PBL is valuable to teach students problem solving, however, I understand that without basic and background knowledge, first, problem solving may just as easily lead to misunderstandings and misconceptions while trying to construct knowledge on concepts.
How is this issue addressed in the design of the Jasper materials?
The issue of providing interesting, authentic, real world like problems is addressed in the Jasper Series by giving students a story. A story about saving an eagle that is trapped and can be saved only by using an air plane called ultralight. The creators give students many different scenarios on gas mileage, gas tank capacity, headwind, and tailwind to help students problem solve at a high level.
In what ways do contemporary videos available for math instruction and their support materials address or not address these issues?
I’m not sure how well Khan Academy or Crash Course are similar to Jasper Series as these materials almost entirely focus on telling the information in a visually appealing way that would help students remember. They don’t necessarily place students into real world problem situations. These materials essentially are more for review rather than learning something new.
Question for peer feedback:
Now that we’ve seen the Jasper Series and anchored instruction in action, how would you use it in the classroom? As an introduction to a complex topic or as practice in problem solving after learning some basics first?
Bjornson, D. (2017) My Love-Hate Relationship With The Jasper Series. Retrieved from: https://blogs.ubc.ca/stem2017/2017/02/07/my-love-hate-relationship-with-the-jasper-series/
CTGV. (1992). The Jasper experiment: An exploration of issues in learning and instructional design. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 40(1), 65-80.
Park, K., & Park, S. (2012). Development of professional engineers’ authentic contexts in blended learning environments. British Journal of Educational Technology, 43(1), E14-E18.
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.