Perception of the raison d'\cx etre of content information: The purpose and mechanisms of anchored instruction

Date of Completion

January 1997


Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Technology of|Education, Curriculum and Instruction




This study supports the contention that video anchors can encourage students to adopt certain contrived goals over their more naturalistic goals. Well designed goals are those that increase the probability that students will detect the raison d'etre of content information as they work toward the contrived goal. When problem solvers detect the raison d'etre of the material, perceptual tuning (that is, the process of becoming attuned to specific invariants of the environment) should be enhanced.^ In Experiment 1, participants worked with hypermedia in which either an anchor problem was posed, or they were preparing for a test. They were grouped based on their self-report of adopting one of four goals. Results showed 72% of students assigned the anchor reported their goal to be "to solve a meaningful problem." Students with that goal showed constrained navigation toward relevant information and significantly higher learning efficiency scores than did students with other goals. In Experiment 2, results provide evidence that when an anchor encourages students to adopt goals that increase the probability that they will detect the raison d'etre of the material, perceptual tuning can be enhanced. Evidence from follow-up interviews regarding a near-transfer video indicated that individuals assigned the anchor reported significantly more information and detected qualitatively different information.^ This study concludes with a description of the mechanism of anchored instruction whereby anchors encourage the adoption of goals, goals establish a perception-action cycle of interactions designed to move toward the goal, which in turn, attune the individual to detect new affordances. Goals that enable the problem solver to detect the raison d'etre of information are magic, because they enhance learning, focus navigation within nonlinear text, and promote perceptual tuning. ^