Project-based learning with the world wide web: A qualitative study of resource integration

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the process used by learners to seek, locate, and integrate information resources for use in a project-based environment. Four cases (n=9) were analyzed from an introductory educational technology course during a unit on telecommunications. Participants were asked to generate projects for integrating the Internet into the curriculum. Within this project-based context, learners searched for information resources that would accompany their project ideas. Three major findings related to use of hypermedia systems during project-based learning are discussed: (a) progressing from data-driven to goal-driven approaches was critical to developing coherent project ideas; (b) consolidation of information resources with project methods and rationales was challenging for learners, often resulting in topic “drifts” or idea simplification; and (c) metacognitive, domain, and system knowledge appeared critical to achieving coherence in project development. Implications related to the role of instructional scaffolding in encouraging goal-driven and metacognitive processing during open-ended learning are considered.

This study was conducted while the first author was an assistant professor at University of Oklahoma's Instructional Psychology and Technology Program.
The authors would like to acknowledge John Wedman for his insightful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript that was presented at the 1999 Association for Educational Communications Technology conference.