Dr. David Devraj Kumar
Professor of Science Education
College of Education
Florida Atlantic University
2912 College Avenue
Davie, Florida 33314
Introduction of the Guest Lecturer-Dr. David Devraj Kumar
Dr. David Devraj Kumar is Professor of Science Education in the College of Education at Florida Atlantic University. He earned his doctorate in science education from Vanderbilt University and a master's degree in analytical chemistry from the University of Louisville. He is a former Postdoctoral Fellow at The Ohio State University. His current research interests include problem-based hypermedia learning environments in science learning and teaching, education involving nanomaterials, and evaluation and policy. He has served as PI or Co-PI of federal- and state-funded projects. His works have appeared in refereed journals, and he has published books with Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers [e.g., Altschuld, J. W., & Kumar, D. D. (eds.) Evaluation of Science and Technology Education at the Dawn of a New Millennium]. He has received several awards for teaching and research, such as the Educational Technology Research & Development Young Scholar Award from the Association for Educational Communications and Technology and ECT Foundation, The John Shrum Award from the Southeastern Association for Science Teacher Education, and the Chemical Pioneer Award from the American Institute of Chemists. He has made invitational presentations at various venues, including the 2nd Samarendra Nath Sen Lecture at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science. Professor Kumar serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Science Education and Technology, Educational Technology Research and Development, the Journal of Materials Education, and Policy Futures in Education.
Interactive video technology has become an integral component of teaching and learning in part due to developments in learning theories such as Anchored Instruction and Situated Learning. These theories relate to the creation and use of technology-based tools (e.g., interactive videos) as anchors for problem-based teaching and learning. In this paper, approaches to interactive video technology anchors in problem-based learning (PBL) in science at the pre-college level will be explored. (Note: While videos are being researched and developed in other areas, they are not within the scope of this presentation.)
One of the aims of science education is to prepare students for life through the cultivation of cognitive skills needed to solve real-world problems. Traditional learning methods such as rote memorization are often found ineffective in producing meaningful learning experiences. In The Aims of Education, Whitehead  addressed this concern when dealing with passive learning and inert knowledge. Inert knowledge may be defined as what is recalled under explicit conditions, but not applied spontaneously to solve problems. It is believed that inert knowledge that is a part of the semantic memory lacks autobiographical references when applied in problem solving. This simply means that it is difficult to recall inert knowledge without prodding questions. Enriching the context of learning might provide schema (mental associations) that helps the learner create autobiographical references to new information in learning situations centered on problem solving.
Problem solving has been the "subject of extensive thought" for many years tracing back to John Dewey [2, 3], who proposed a theme-based approach to arranging related topics together under a theme to enrich the context of learning . The intent was to help students see the relationships, similarities and differences between concepts. Much like Dewey, Gragg  advocated using case studies to enhance the context of learning. Flynn and Klein  concluded that the case-based method makes "learning relevant and meaningful to the student through active participation and analyzing, discussing and solving real problems" by redirecting "the focus of learning away from memorization of facts and to the application of concepts, theories, and techniques to practical, real-world problems" (p. 71). Such PBL has also been widely applied in law, management, and medicine.
Problem-based learning as a curricular area emerged over several decades from the design of a student-centered, small-group curriculum for medical students. PBL is based on real-world situations . It is the "learning which results from the process of working towards the understanding of, or resolution of, a problem" [8, p. 1]. PBL is aimed at engaging students in a problem-solving activity that they can relate to and see as meaningful while emphasizing the authentic feature of learning in context. Research on the outcomes of problem-based learning in the training of future physicians indicate that medical students in PBL programs achieve as well as students in traditional programs on traditional exams . Hur and Kim  also demonstrated positive outcomes of PBL in medical education. Some of the advantages of problem-based learning include active learning, critical thinking, flexible reflections, and fruitful group cooperation .
The essential components of problem-based learning are loosely structured learning cases (e.g., news clips, teacher/custom-made materials), student-centered learning, and small-group cooperative learning . In PBL the role of the classroom teacher is mostly as a facilitator of discussion among students, leading to self-directed learning leading that culminates in meaningful comprehension [13, 14, 15]. "Students pursue their own problem solutions by clarifying a problem, posing necessary questions, researching these questions, and producing a product that displays their thinking. These activities are generally conducted in collaborative learning groups that often solve the same problem in different ways and arrive at different answers" [13, p. 50).
According to Schmidt  the cognitive psychology bases of PBL are as follows:
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Information-rich realistic contexts, often referred to as "macro-contexts," encourage the active construction of knowledge by learners, and differ from "micro-contexts" (information-poor, mostly unrealistic) found in traditional educational technology applications . Often, it may not be feasible to bring real-world problems into classrooms. One way of presenting reality-based contexts for PBL is through interactive videos. Some of the advantages of videos include visual, dynamic, spatial, and veridical representation of information [19, 20]. Interactive videos provide random access and greater user control over the information in the video. Although micro-contexts mainly serve as visual supplements to lectures and offer students disconnected contexts or situations, macro-contexts, on the other hand, are rich with data, enabling the learner to be immersed in a comprehensive environment, revisit the same information from multiple perspectives, and work toward success while developing expertise. With respect to PBL, interactive video technology is an excellent tool for creating "macro-contexts" (e.g., 19, 21, 22). Indeed, some of the key developments in contemporary learning theories such as "anchored instruction" could be attributed to the idea of interactive, video-based macro-contexts .
Anchored Instruction is a form of a macro-context-based instructional framework for actively engaging students in realistic complex problem solving, reflection, transfer, and critical thinking activities . In anchored instruction, the videos serve to place problem-based learning in a context often enriched with data necessary for solving problems. Anchors are stories and episodes developed around believable situations providing complex problem solving opportunities in a variety of curricular areas. Students are challenged to apply problem-solving skills by exploring the video to locate needed data that was presented as part of the story. Carefully selected clips from commercial movies and custom developed videos are used as anchors in PBL. Further discussion will present video examples selected based on familiarity and availability of access. Table 1 lists some of the characteristics of selected video anchors discussed in this presentation.
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Development of video anchors originated from efforts to teach science, language arts, and history to fourth through sixth grade students using problem-based activities centered on macro-contexts. Selected clips from movies such as "Raiders of the Lost Ark" were used as anchors.
Videos of custom-developed episodes have been used as anchors for PBL in science. The example below deals with an episode involving a statuette and density concept.
Simulations incorporating videos have been used as anchors for problem-based learning in science. The following example deals with science PBL in the context of river ecosystems.
8(a). "The River of Life"  is a modified version of the "Stones River Mystery" video modified using the STAR Legacy Cycle [27, 28]. In the "Stones River Mystery" pairs of scientists and students take electronic field trips to analyze a local river ecosystem. The analysis of the river system involves tests for pH, ammonia levels, dissolved oxygen, and macro-invertebrates sampling. (Through the Internet, data is transmitted to participating classrooms for problem-solving activities and small group discussions.) The STAR Legacy Cycle of the "The River of Life" is a flexible software shell that empowers teachers to adapt pedagogically sound instructional design, increasing the "power of anchored instruction" to help students tackle real-world problems and develop better attitudes toward learning [26, 27]. The cycle is composed of a context-based "Challenge," a sequence of instructions to stimulate students to "Generate Ideas" (thoughts), and then to listen and view "Multiple Perspectives and Resources" of commentaries on their challenge and the underlying principles. This is followed by "Research and Revise" data-collection activities to address the challenge, formative feedback with "Test Your Mettle" (assessment), and finally sharing solutions to problems with others through "Wrap Up" or "Going Public." The simulations are about water quality analyses such as calculating the water quality index based on the number of macro-invertebrates present. The simulations are a cost-effective means of combining several learning strategies based on participation in the problem-solving process at intermittent periods during learning.
Sherwood  found that fifth graders in a pre- and post- study showed an increase in their understanding of the significance of macro-invertebrates and dissolved oxygen in water quality measurements. Kumar and Sherwood  noted a significant pre- to post-test gain in conceptual understanding by students in an elementary and middle school science methods course who used the Legacy Cycle-based "River of Life." Students were also able to transfer knowledge acquired from the simulation to teachable stand-alone lesson plans for teaching without the simulation.
8(b). "The River City Project" is an interactive video simulation game involving a 19th century river town besieged with health problems. It uses digitized Smithsonian artifacts to teach middle school science, which invokes "curiosity and play" (http://muve.gse.harvard.edu/rivercityproject/). Students learn about disease transmission, research causes of illness, develop controlled experiments, and test hypotheses. For example, student teams are challenged to tackle complex multi-causal problems by developing and testing hypotheses on three disease strands (insect-borne, air-borne, and water-borne) based on geographical, social, and historical contexts. Outcome studies showed improvements in content knowledge, inquiry skills, and attendance, and a decrease in disruptive behaviors . Additionally, letters to the River City Mayor from low- and high-performing students clearly demonstrated a causal relationship between the problem and the reason(s).
Interactive video technology has reached new heights in providing anchors for problem-based learning in science. Video anchors are cognitive tools for PBL with the potential to help improve classroom practices in science. Student outcomes include active engagement in learning, improved learning, higher self-efficacy, and more student participation in learning science. However, more longitudinal studies are needed in a test-driven education system in the U.S. and elsewhere to determine long-range effectiveness.
Custom-made videos and carefully selected commercial movie clips can form video anchors, enrich the context of learning, and transform PBL learning into a more practical, realistic educational experience in science. As technology is advancing, the types of anchors are also advancing, ranging from ordinary videos to multi-user simulations. However, one of the issues is that video anchors require high bandwidth to be transmitted via the Internet, and, hence, may not be suitable for large-scale online instruction. With the advancement of the Internet this problem may be resolved in the near future.
The following suggestions might be of interest to teachers in deciding the contexts for PBL when dealing with both commercial movie clips as well as custom- developed videos [25, 31].
Interactive video anchors have transformed problem-based learning into a more realistic educational experience in science. Teacher participation is critical to the successful classroom implementation of videos for PBL. Interactive video is a technological resource with potential for long-term success depending on how it is developed and applied as a cognitive tool for engaging situations such as problem-based learning. Approaches to interactive video anchors in PBL are limited only by our imagination.
"The HyperScience" – Source: Hofwolt, C. A., Kumar, D. D., Johnston, J., Carrison, S., & Altman, J. E. (1992-93). Hyperscience for middle school. (An interactive video.) Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University. Used with permission.
"The Golden Statuette" – An uncopyrighted experimental work produced at Vanderbilt University in the early 1980's by Dr. R. D. Sherwood. Used with permission.
"The River of Life" - Source: Sherwood, R.D. (2001). River of Life (Multimedia Program). Nashville, TN: Learning Technology Center, Vanderbilt University. Used with permission.
Thanks to Dr. James Altschuld, Dr. Robert Sherwood, Dr. Clifford Hofwolt, Mr. Ron Persin, Ms. Lynn Laurenti, Ms. Lisa Mills and Ms. Bonnie May for thoughtful critiques and suggestions, and Mr. John Harwood for technical assistance.
 Whitehead, A. N. (1929). The aims of education. NY: Macmillan.