The Jasper series was designed in response to a large majority of students lacking in independent and critical thinking skills, as well as the motivation to learn and apply concepts to the real world. The goal of the Jasper series was to create a shared learning context where students would be challenged in a “realistic problem-rich setting”, learning the when, why and how of procedures, concepts and skills (Cognition & Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1992a). The intent behind the design of this TELE was to provide an area for meaningful STEM exploration, building collective understanding between teachers and students, as they developed problem-solving skills in an authentic setting. I agree that this is a problem worth pursuing still today, as students have easy access to information on their phones and tablets, and are rarely challenged to reflect on their learning and engage critically with authentic problems. The Cognition & Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1992a) outlined the issue in more depth, elaborating on the necessity of developing “subskills” while using the Jasper series. To authentically tackle any problem, students need to develop a bank of skills and strategies from which they can apply their critical thinking to solve a complex problem, while being able to apply the tools of technology rather than having the technology answer the problem for them.
In the studies I read that attempted to integrate the Jasper series into their instruction, motivation and improved attitude towards STEM were byproducts of using the Jasper series (Hickey et al, 2001; Shyu, H., 2000). I found this interesting, but not surprising. Having access to technology at their fingertips, it would seem realistic for students to lose interest in the memorization of materials and concepts that didn’t relate to their lives. However, through the studies, results showed significant increase in motivation and positive attitude towards when anchored instruction and technology were fused together successfully. In Taiwan, several Grade 5 classes successfully implemented a video-based series, Encore’s Vacation, which resulted in improved motivation and academic achievement (Shyu, H., 2000). Encore’s Vacation is similar to the Jasper series, in that it provides visuals and audio accompaniment of a realistic problem, as well as diagrams, a storyline, and the ability to adjust the speed of the video. All these factors enable anchored instruction, with the complexities of authentic problem solving placed within a context students can grasp and opportunities for differentiation through extension or simplification as needed.
Unfortunately, in North America, there does not appear to be programs already set up for teachers as neatly and readily as the Jasper series or Encore’s Vacation. Khan Academy may provide audio and visual for the explanation of diagrams, however it does not teach subskills or place the learning in a context for problem-solving – it simply informs the student of how to solve a problem, and does not include them learning the when or why. Similarly, BBC Learn Classroom Clips only provide videos from which to listen passively, rather than question, reflect and collaborate to solve a genuine problem.
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.
Hickey, D.T., Moore, A. L. & Pellegrin, J.W. (2001). The motivational and academic consequences of elementary mathematics environments: Do constructivist innovations and reforms make a difference? American Educational Research Journal, 38(3), 611-652.
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.