One of the best-known and most effective innovations in instructional approach is anchored instruction. Based on Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Constructivism models, anchored instruction implants problems into complex and realistic scenarios called macro-contexts. As a reminder, Behaviorism implies the following: (1) Behavior is orderly and predictable; free will is an illusion. (2) Mind is a superfluous concept. Thoughts are not the causes of behavior. (3) Feelings do not cause behavior (Skinner, 1974). Cognitivism asks the following questions, “What is learned? How is it learned? Is learning incremental or sudden? Is discrimination learning relational or specific?” (Piaget, 1969) Finally, the constructivist concept of education views learning as resulting from complex interactions, beyond the model in which knowledge is viewed as a product that can be transmitted one way from the professor (or the textbook) to the students. Basically, Constructivism means that as people experience something new they compare this experience to internalized knowledge based on past experiences, and then modify their visions accordingly (Watzawick, 1984).
Returning to our discussion on how the above learning theories are integrated into the online instructional approach, the anchored online instruction model was developed by the Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1992). This instructional approach uses high-quality video scenarios for introducing the problem and engaging learners in order to make the problems more motivating and easier to search. A video is used to present a story narrative that requires the learners to generate the problem to be solved rather than having the entire problem explained by the instruction (Halpern, 2003). All of the data needed to solve the math and science problems are included in the story, enabling students to make decisions about what data are important. The problems that students generate and solve are complex rather than simple story problems, and they often require more than twenty steps to solve.
The above depicted instructional approach uses both active and exploratory learning strategies. An active learning strategy focuses on encouraging students to find solutions to the tasks given using readily available help: be it other students or instructors. The main idea behind the active learning strategy is to persuade learners to actively find solutions to the problem, to develop their level of interaction, and to illustrate that a job can be done by a group of individuals more efficiently than by one person.
Think-Pair-Share is an example of the active learning strategy. It is made of three steps. Fist, students are given the tasks on the ‘do-it-yourself’ level. Then learners are brought to work in pairs. After these two stages are completed, the students work in a group. During the first stage, the tutor using the Cognition and Technology Group method poses a prepared task and asks students to think (or write) about it on their own. During the second stage, learners pair up with someone sitting close to them and share their responses orally. During the third stage, the tutor selects a few pairs to concisely summarize their ideas for the benefit of the entire group.