A computer-mediated support system for project-based learning

Abstract

Project-based learning places demands on learners and instructors that challenge the traditional practices and support structures of schools. Learning from doing complex, challenging, and authentic projects requires resourcefulness and planning by the student, new forms of knowledge representation in school, expanded mechanisms for collaboration and communication, and support for reflection and authentic assessment. This article describes a computer-mediated learning-support system designed as a suite of integrated, internet-based client-server tools to provide (a) intelligent support both for the processes of doing a project and for learning from doing a project, and (b) a shared dynamic knowledge base for working and learning in a community supporting project-based education. The article describes the architecture of the system, its current state of development, and findings from an initial deployment. This articulation of the system components and findings can benefit several groups. It can help (a) educators envisioning the role of technology in augmenting authentic forms of learning, (b) developers of other support systems as they compare features and implications, and (c) researchers as they frame questions about human-computer interactions in learning systems.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Blumenfeld, P.C., Soloway, E., Marx, R.W., Krajcik, J.S., Guzdial, M., & Palincsar, A. (1991). Motivating project-based learning: Sustaining the doing, supporting the learning.Educational Psychologist, 26(3 & 4), 369–398.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Brown, J.S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning.Educational Researcher, Jan.–Feb., 32–42.

  3. Burton, R., Brown, J.S., & Fischer, G. (1984). Skiing as a model of instruction. In B. Rogoff & J. Lave (Eds.),Everyday cognition: Its development in social context (pp. 139–150). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Collins, A. (1996). Design issues for learning environments. In S. Vosniadou, E. De Corte, R. Glaser, & H. Mandl (Eds.),International perspectives on the design of technology supported learning environments (pp. 347–362). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Collins, A., & Brown, J.S. (1988). The computer as a tool for learning through reflection. In H. Mandl & A. Lesgold (Eds.),Learning issues for intelligent tutoring systems (pp. 1–18). New York: Springer-Verlag.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Collins, A., Brown, J.S., & Newman, S.E. (1989). Cognitive apprenticeship: Teaching the crafts of reading, writing, and mathematics. In L.B. Resnick (Ed.),Knowing, learning, and instruction: Essays in honor of Robert Glasser (pp. 453–494). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum & Associates, Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Dewey, J. (1933).How we think: A restatement of the relation of thinking to the educative process. Boston: Heath.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Dewey, J. (1938).Experience and education. New York: Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Geertz, C. (1983).Local knowledge. New York: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Gery, G. (1991).Electronic performance support systems. Boston: Weingarten.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Hawkins, J. (1995). Supporting teachers in changing roles. A group paper from the NSF Educational Technology Workshop.Setting an agenda for computer science in educational technology (pp.23–31). Washington, D.C.: Computing Research Association.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Jackson, S.L., Stratford, S.J., Krajcik, J., & Soloway, E. (1995). A learner-centered tool for students building models.Communications of the ACM, 39(4), 48–49.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Krajcik, J., Blumenfeld, P., Marx, R., & Soloway, E. (1994). A collaborative model for helping middle grade science teachers learn project-based instruction.The Elementary School Journal, 94(5), 483–497.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Laffey, J. (1995a) Project MOST: Building a new educational community to support project-based learning using the internet.Proceedings of AACE World Conference on Education Multimedia and Hypermedia. Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education.

  15. Laffey, J. (1995b). Dynamism in electronic performance support systems.Performance Improvement Quarterly, 8(1), 31–46.

    Google Scholar 

  16. National Research Council, (1996).National Science Educational Standards. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Norman (1993).Things that make us smart: Defending human attributes in the age of the machine. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Perkins, D.N. (1993). Person-plus: A distributed view of thinking and learning. In G. Salomon (Ed.),Distributed cognitions: Psychological and educational considerations (pp. 88–110). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Resnick, L.B. (1987). Learning in school and out.Educational Researcher, 16(9), 13–20.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Scardamalia, M., Bereiter, C., & Steinbach, R. (1984). Teachability of reflective processes in written composition.Cognitive Science, 8, 173–190.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Schön, Donald (1983).The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Spitulnik, J., Struder, S., Finkel, E., Gustafson, E., Laczko, J., & Soloway, 1995.Toward supporting learners participating in scientifically-informed community discourse. Paper presented at the Computer Support for Collaborative Learning Conference, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University. October 1995.

  23. Vygotsky, L.S. (1978).Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge MA: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Wiggins, G.P. (1993). Assessment: Authenticity, context, and validity.Phi Delta Kappan, November, 200–214.

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to James Laffey.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Laffey, J., Tupper, T., Musser, D. et al. A computer-mediated support system for project-based learning. ETR&D 46, 73–86 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02299830

Download citation

Keywords

  • Knowledge Base
  • Support System
  • Educational Technology
  • System Component
  • Support Structure