In reviewing the four pedagogical theories, several common threads are noticeable throughout. First and foremost, all of the theories are rooted in the theory of constructivism – the notion that learning occurs through an active process, not a passive one. Students construct their own learning through specific, active and repeated experience and activity, not by simply being told the information (Fosnot, 2013). It is upon reflection of these novel concepts that prior understandings and ideas are consolidated into a single, new understanding. The role of the educator is primarily as a guide, assisting students along their path through the exploration of these exercise and activities and not as a conveyer of information, dispelling information through lecture and notes. Through these process, students are able to acquire a deeper understanding, typically, through inquiry. Another similarity among the four pedagogical techniques is the use of technology to motivate and engage the student. Motivating students is a commonality amongst the four theories as this single factor helps facilitate and inspire the learning one hopes for in a classroom.
The primary difference amongst the four pedagogies is how they intend to specifically accomplish the overall goal of changing student learning. While each of the theories are inspired and propelled by constructivism, they each have specific tenants that differentiate among them. For example, anchored instruction (and Jasper) is situated in the context of a problem-solving dilemma (Cognition and Technology Group, 1992). In this regard, students are faced with the task of utilizing new theories, concepts, and principles to guide their thinking. The scaffolded knowledge integration framework (and Web-based Inquiry Science Environment) takes on a more research-based approach in which students complete a technology-based project to access, support, and challenge their ideas (Linn, M., Clark, D., & Slotta, J., 2003). The Learning-for-Use model (and MyWorld) also utilizes an inquiry-based approach with educational software (Edelson, D.C., 2001). However, this model combines the subject content and its associated processes, for instance, through the use of geographic visualization and data analysis. Finally, T-GEM (and MyChem) is experimental-based and uses a cyclical pattern of generating, evaluating, and modifying hypotheses to refine student concepts (Khan, S. 2007).
It is evident that technology and web-based activities can be used in a great variety of methods to accomplish effective learning. Students need to be guided through their learning by the instructor and in doing so, are also provided a multitude of activities and experiences that allow students to challenge their preconceived notions. Any of the above pedagogical models can be successful in inspiring and engaging students with materials, but the choice of which to use in any lesson will likely depend on both the material being taught and the availability of resources to assist in learning the material.
Fosnot, C.T. (2013). Constructivism: Theory, perspectives, and practice (2nd ed.). New York: Teachers College Press.
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.
Edelson, D.C. (2001). Learning-for-use: A framework for the design of technology-supported inquiry activities. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38(3), 355-385.
Linn, M., Clark, D., & Slotta, J. (2003). Wise design for knowledge integration. Science Education, 87(4), 516-538.
Khan, S. (2007). Model-based inquiries in chemistry. Science Education, 91(6), 877-90.