An argument against Globe as anchored instruction

I would like to disagree with the statement that Globe is an example of anchored instruction. If you look at the definition of anchored instruction superficially, one would have to agree that Globe qualifies. However, I believe that on a deeper level Globe does not embody all of the qualities of anchored instruction that the Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (CGTV) had in mind when they created the Jasper series.

Anchored instruction is where “instruction is situated in engaging, problem-rich environments that allow sustained exploration by students and teachers” (CGTV, 1992, p. 65). Based on this description, Globe certainly seems to meet the requirements. It provides a very engaging, problem-rich environment, and due to its many facets (atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, pedosphere), sustained exploration can be attained. In addition, Globe provides an environment that allows communication between experts, students and teachers from diverse backgrounds, and this helps to build collective understanding. This is another important feature of anchored instruction.

Where Globe seems to diverge from anchored instruction is apparent when looking at the goals that CGTV had in mind when creating the Jasper series. CGTV’s aim was to help students learn to become independent thinkers and learners. They wanted students to learn to identify and define issues and problems on their own, in a generative fashion (CGTV, 1992). I would argue that students who participate in Globe, do not achieve this goal. The main activities in Globe centre around collection of data by students using a prescribed protocol that has been established by Globe researchers. This prescribed protocol is necessary to ensure that data collected by students is reliable and can be used by Globe researchers. I also took a look at some learning activities that students can perform. These documents provide teachers with a guide on how to introduce certain topics, gives step by step instructions on how to conduct the lesson, and possible ways to assess students on these activities. There seems to be a great deal of scaffolding in comparison to the Jasper series, which may hinder the notion of generative learning.

Overall, I believe that Globe is a very engaging community and does bring environmental science research close to home for students. I think that it is a very innovative endeavour and certainly has a place in STEM education. However, I cannot agree that it falls within the realm of anchored instruction.

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


  1. Hello Momoe. Thanks for the voice of dissent! It is refreshing. I agree that GLOBE doesn’t really fit the original vision of Anchored Instruction, although Vanderbilt group does address your concern about the much heavier, prescribed GLOBE scaffolding:

    “It was noted that the Jasper adventures are purposely complex…this is a concern when the goal is to work with students who may not begin instruction with strong backgrounds. Clearly, one could make ‘baby Jaspers’…” (CTGV, 1992a, p. 77)

    If we can get over how adorable “baby Jaspers” might be, I think the GLOBE activities are just that. In my own practice I am finding that applying a project based learning model is quite different at grade 8 than at grade 12. The juniors need a ton of scaffolding and disengage if the task is not perceived as managable. In this interview snippet, John Hattie explains that his analysis shows that introducing complex inquiry too early is ineffective.

    Perhaps GLOBE is a good stepping stone toward a more complex Anchored Learning environment?


    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

  2. Thanks for the video. John Hattie has some really good points. I think I need to delve a little deeper into the literature about inquiry based learning. I was under the impression that it was effective, and that it was our assessment methods that were inadequately capturing the effect size, as opposed to inquiry based learning being minimally effective for learning (at least at certain levels of knowledge).

    Lots of things to contemplate . . . particularly applicable for med school as the national curriculum is really pushing for more inquiry based learning methods.


  3. Hi,

    I struggled with the same feature of GLOBE in determining if it was an example of anchored instruction. I agree that if the learning experience was presented as a prescribed set of predetermined steps that the students simply carried out it would not connect with the goals of AI.

    1. Thanks for your comment Derek. I really think this will differ based on how you look at it. I only disagree because I really like the goals established in AI and I just don’t see it in GLOBE. But like I said, if you look at the initial definition of AI provided by CGTV, Globe fits the bill.

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