Prompting students' knowledge integration and ill-structured problem solving in a Web-based learning environment
Ching-Huei Karen Chen, The University of Oklahoma, United States
The University of Oklahoma . Awarded
The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of different types of question prompts on students' knowledge acquisition and ill-structured problem solving outcomes. Although there are consistent findings regarding the processes of knowledge integration in science, few studies have focused on supporting students' knowledge acquisition and problem solving in more ill-structured domains. Hence, this study explored the use of knowledge integration prompts and problem solving prompts to support students' knowledge acquisition and ill-structured problem solving, especially the processes of problem representation, developing and evaluating solutions, and monitoring and justifying a plan of action.
Students need to apply knowledge to important issues every day. Therefore, designing school curricula that foster integration of knowledge and everyday problem solving becomes critical. Students must develop integrated understandings of principles, prior experience, and applicable knowledge in order to be effective and efficient problem solvers.
In order to investigate how such integrated understandings can be promoted in a web-based learning environment, this research used a knowledge integration approach to teaching and learning that provided a framework for promoting the application of educational concepts to classroom problems. Educational measurement served as the educational context for the focal curriculum. The curriculum design incorporated knowledge integration prompts to help students integrate knowledge, and problem solving prompts to facilitate students' problem solving processes.
The research design and assessment protocols included two phases of the curriculum---knowledge acquisition phase and problem solving phase---and four treatments---knowledge integration condition, problem solving condition, combination of knowledge integration and problem solving condition, and control condition. The web-based environment was tested with undergraduate pre-service teachers. Pretest-posttest and ill-structured problem solving outcomes were compared between the treatments. Results indicated that knowledge integration prompts promoted better knowledge acquisition than did problem solving prompts. However, knowledge integration prompts alone were not completely sufficient for ill-structured problem solving. In fact, the combination of knowledge integration and problem solving prompts helped students not only integrate but also apply knowledge of principles and concepts to real-world problems. These results have implications for designing curricula in ill-defined domains and for instructional designers seeking to integrate and promote the application of educational principles to real-world problems.
Chen, C.H.K. Prompting students' knowledge integration and ill-structured problem solving in a Web-based learning environment. Ph.D. thesis, The University of Oklahoma.
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