GLOBE – Anchored Instruction


Globe researchers have suggested that Globe is an example of anchored instruction. Do you agree or disagree with this statement and why?


After analysis of the GLOBE program, I agree it is an example of anchored instruction.  First, anchored instruction is summarized followed by the reasoning for how GLOBE fits this description.

Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (CGTV) (1992a) explored The Jasper Series and described it as an example of anchored instruction.  The group defined anchored instruction as an “…approach to instructional design, whereby instruction is situated in realistic, problem-rich setting (p. 78).  Prado and Gravoso (2011) also explain that “…this approach situates learning in realistic or authentic problems, which allows students to experience the kinds of complex, challenging problems that experts encounter…” (p. 62).  To summarize, anchored instruction is authentic, realistic and meaningful instruction that exposes students to challenging problems that experts face in the field of math or science.

GLOBE has two attributes that fit this description.  These attribute are detailed further.

I) Realistic Setting

Penuel and Means (2004) explain “GLOBE is an international environmental science and science education program focused on improving student understanding of science by involving young people in the collection of data for real scientific investigations” (p. 295).  The collection of data that pertains to real scientific investigations qualifies GLOBE to be situated in a realistic setting.  When students contribute to the program with data, they “…are not just collecting data as part of an isolated laboratory experience but as contributors to actual scientific studies” (Penuel and Means, 2004).

II) Experiencing Problems as Experts

Penuel and Means (2004) further explain that GLOBE is an example of a “…so-called network science [program]…[that draws]…on networked technologies such as the Internet to create virtual communities that engage students not just as learners but as scientists themselves, collecting and analyzing data that are part of larger scientific investigations” (p. 297).  GLOBE provides students with access to and influence scientific research by contributing data in their local environments.  Moreover, it provides scientists with an enormous amount of data gathered by students to study from.  It is a two way access between research and the classroom.

Hence, GLOBE is truly anchored instruction as it provides realistic research experiences to students in their own classrooms by collecting and submitting data that can be harnessed by scientists and experts in the respective fields of research.

Question for feedback from peers:

Penuel and Means (2004) describe barriers in data reporting as a result of surveying teachers that use the GLOBE program. The biggest barrier described is “…difficulty teachers face in integrating GLOBE with the curriculum (p. 307).  I personally found this to be both a problem and equally surprising.  With a push for more authentic teaching and learning experiences in math and science, I imagined it would be easier to implement the scientific process in the classroom using programs like GLOBE.  A second barrier to reporting data was “difficulty teachers face in finding time to report data” (p. 307).

In your opinion, what would be the necessary steps needed to reduce the barriers of curriculum integration and lack of time to report data in today’s math or science classroom?


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

Penuel, W.R., & Means, B. (2004). Implementation variation and fidelity in an inquiry science program: Analysis of GLOBE data reporting patterns. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41(3), 294-315.

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


  1. Hi Vibhu,

    Your post was clear and succinct, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it!

    Integration of virtual learning environments overall, I concur is the biggest difficulty. As well, assessment can be challenging as well because teachers are required to spend a significant amount of time learning educational technologies.

    Here are some steps I believe would reduce the barriers of using educational technologies.

    1) Have an open mind. Go with implementing a virtual learning environment without altering it at first (e.g. pre made and ready to go lessons). Familiarize yourself with it from a student perspective. Note challenges your students may encounter and areas you could make assessments of student learning.
    2) Make anecdotal notes of students. You could even video or audio record student responses.
    3) Reflect on the virtual learning experience. Have students self assess and reflect your role as the educator. What would you do differently? What are parts the students enjoyed and had trouble with?
    4) Try another lesson using the same program, but make some changes based on your students.

  2. Hi Vibhu,
    Although this was not part of your question I was wondering your thoughts on a statement I read in one of the articles that pointed out that programs like GLOBE, although students can interact with scientists, are in themselves not really showing students what it means to be a scientist. The students often find and report data- jobs done in a career setting by technicians-, not the scientist themselves. The students are not directing the learning or creating an area of study to investigate as they should be in true anchored instruction but rather following prescribed steps laid out by someone else to further their interest or area of study.

    1. HI Catherine!
      I find this critique of GLOBE so interesting and enlightening! It is always great to be aware of both sides of the argument.
      I agree that the GLOBE program does put students in the shoes of data collectors, the technicians as the article you describe coins students as. However, I do have a few issues with this characterization of GLOBE not being truly anchored.

      1. The purpose of GLOBE – upon reflecting on the purpose of GLOBE, I find that it is designed to provide a space where students report data they observe in their local communities. This data then is available to scientists for their use. When observed from this lens, GLOBE is in fact doing exactly what it is designed to. Then there is the matter of how it is anchored. I’d argue it is anchored because students are actively taking part in real research. Students are the technicians that provide the raw information, so the process of collecting data for a real purpose provides a great deal of authenticity for students in the classroom.

      2. Problem Solving – the second point you highlight is on following prescribed steps. I only imagine that prescribed steps in collecting data are mandatory to maintain the integrity of data collection as badly collected data is good for no one. Applying these prescribed steps of data collection to the students’ own contexts and communities may take some deal of problem solving to accomplish.

      3. Lastly, and most importantly I find it problematic that the authors of this article suggest the work of a technician is not scientific work, that students that play the role of a technician collecting data are not scientists themselves. As we are aware, data collection is a prominent step in the scientific process. Collecting good data with good habits makes or breaks research. To downplay the role students play as data collectors to me seems problematic.

      Thank you for bringing these points to this discussion. It was a great exercise in reflection and analysis of both sides of the coin.

  3. Hi Vibhu,

    Thank you for your analysis of Globe. Both of the digital and analog technologies can be compared to the principles espoused by this theory learning (anchored instruction). The question you asked has stimulated discussion on the ways we can support student contribution to a large networked database and to contribute to the growing corpus of scientific knowledge. In terms of accessibility to science and scientific tools, I was wondering about what you thought about Globe’s access to scientists and its implications for teachers’ and students’ understanding of science?

    Thank you,
    PS. The newest version of the Globe Observer App was just released this month as well.

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