The Factors Affecting Multimedia-Based Inquiry

The Factors Affecting Multimedia-Based Inquiry

Margus Pedaste, Tago Sarapuu
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-120-9.ch017
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The general aim of the present chapter is to focus on the factors influencing simulation-based computersupported inquiry learning in small groups. The authors will give an overview of research that describes different factors influencing inquiry learning and problem solving and will add a dimension of collaborative web-based inquiry from their studies. The evidence from relevant scientific literature as well as the empirical results collected by the authors form the basis for discussion about designing an effective learning environment through a viewpoint of different end-users of our results – especially teachers and software designers. As a result, three additional main factors have been found that should be taken into account in designing support systems for problem solving: i) the level of difficulty of problems, ii) the appropriate sequence of problems, and iii) the characteristics of learners’ groups.
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Problem Solving Through Inquiry

Inquiry learning or scientific discovery has been studied for about fifty years starting with the research of Bruner et al. (1956). Unfortunately, these ideas started to spread into curricula and instructional programs, both classroom- and computer-based ones, more than thirty years later. The new era started when the ideas were developed in Klahr and Dunbar’s (1988) theory of ‘Scientific Discovery as Dual Search’ (SDDS). This theory states that scientific discovery is a dual search between the hypothesis space and the experiment space. Besides, the modern tools in application of multimedia enable the building of appropriate support for acquiring inquiry skills in computer based environments. During inquiry, students explore new relationships between various factors for themselves and, therefore, they understand natural processes better and are able to apply this knowledge in new situations for a longer time (Zachos et al., 2000).

In a general manner, the processes of inquiry learning are divided into transformative and regulative ones (de Jong & Njoo, 1992). Transformative processes lead a learner towards the solution of a problem, step by step, whereas regulative ones are necessary for planning, monitoring, and evaluating transformative processes. It means that in inquiry learning, two parallel sets of actions are carried out and concentrating only on one of these could lead to unsuccessful problem solving. However, according to other authors, the regulative processes are embedded into a list of transformative ones and, therefore, we will describe the steps of inquiry in one sequence.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Situation Awareness: Students’ understanding of available resources in a learning environment and the knowledge of the meaning, reasons, and methods of applying various learning activities.

Problem Solving: A process of solving problems consisting of activities starting from the initial problem state to the goal state.

Collaborative Learning: A form of learning in which a number of students work on a common goal, divide learning activities, and share knowledge and skills needed for achieving the final outcome of the learning process.

Inquiry Learning: A process where relations between dependent and independent variables are found through formulating research questions and hypotheses, planning and carrying out experiments, analyzing experimental data, and communicating the outcomes.

Multimedia-Based Learning Environment: A technologically enhanced (mostly computer-based) learning environment combining different types of media.

Simulation: Presentation of a real process in a virtual environment, which is often manipulative.

Support: A specific activity for enhancing the effectiveness of the learning process.

Inquiry Skills: Skills that are related to the stages of inquiry learning and enhance the effectiveness of inquiry learning processes.

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