A Task-Centered Instructional Strategy

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: []On: 01 November 2014, At: 16:26Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T3JH, UK</p><p>Journal of Research onTechnology in EducationPublication details, including instructions forauthors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ujrt20</p><p>A Task-Centered InstructionalStrategyM. David Merrillaa Florida State University, Brigham Young University-Hawaii, and Utah State UniversityPublished online: 21 Feb 2014.</p><p>To cite this article: M. David Merrill (2007) A Task-Centered InstructionalStrategy, Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 40:1, 5-22, DOI:10.1080/15391523.2007.10782493</p><p>To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15391523.2007.10782493</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all theinformation (the Content) contained in the publications on our platform.However, Taylor &amp; Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness,or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions and viewsexpressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, andare not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of theContent should not be relied upon and should be independently verified withprimary sources of information. 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Terms &amp; Conditions of access and use can be found athttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>141.</p><p>214.</p><p>17.2</p><p>22] </p><p>at 1</p><p>6:26</p><p> 01 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p></li><li><p>journal @-Research on Ethnology in Edzrcation, 2007, 40(1), 5-22 </p><p>A Task-Centered Instruction </p><p>M. David Merrill Floeda State Universiq, Brigham Young University-Hawaii, a ~ d .Utah State University </p><p>Abstract Based sn a review of instructional design models, previous papos identzJied f i s t principles of instmction. 7hese principles prescribe a cycle G f instruction corzsirting of activation, dem- onstratjon, application, and integration. 7hese instructionalphases are best implemented in the con e x t of real-world tasks. A Pebble-in-the-Pond aproach to instructional development prescribes a task-centered, content-first instructionaldc.signprocedare, which implements these f i s t prhciples in the resulting instructional produca. %is conc,optualpuper elaborates the component analysis and irzstructionalstrategy phases of this instrxctionul design model. %is paper &amp;so integrates previous instructional stratzgy prescriptions fvom Component Display lheory with the content components of knowledge objects. 7he strategy for teaching within the con text of a whole task consists of applying strategy component.; to these uarious knowledge comporznts in a way that enables learners to see their interrelatiorrchzps and their relationship to the u /,ole. 7he resulting instructionalstrategy is aguided task-centered approach as contrasted with myre learnel-centeredproblem-based approdches to instructicnal design. 7he application of this C-omponent analysis and task-centered instructional strateD1 zs illustrated. (Keywords: Pebble-z q-the-Pond instructional design, jrst prz nciples of instrtictzon, Component Display lheory, inowledge objects, task-centered instruction, whole-task irzsti.uction, task progression, knowleqe and skill components, component analysis, instructiorzal strategies.) </p><p>INTRODUCTION During the past few years there has been a flurry of activity exploring prob- </p><p>lem-base3 instruction (Jonassen, 2000; Spector, 2004). ?here are many names and variations of these approaches including guided discovery learning, model- centered instruction, problem-based learning, situated learning, case-based learning, and exploratory learning. Each of these approaches has in common getting learners involved with whole tasks or problems as contrasted with the topic-by-topic approach that typifies more traditional curriculum approaches. ?he belief is that getting students involved with realistic whole situations will help therc form appropriate schema and mental models. These more complete internal representations are believed to facilitate their later application of their newly acquired knowledge and skill. </p><p>Problem-based approaches vary widely in the amount of learner support that is provided. Learner support can take the form of scaffolding, learner guidance, or coaching. At one extreme are minimal guidance strategies that select students for a cohcsrt, give the group a complex ill-structured task to complete, and pro- vide resoJrces of various kinds from which the learners are expected to find and apply the information they need to complete the task. Students collaborate with one another, sharing information, seeking solutions, and exploring alternatives until they are able to complete the assignment. Some reviewers have cited data that indicates that approaches that provide minimum guidance are often inef- fective arid inefficient (Kirschner, Sweller, &amp; Clark, 2006; Mayer, 2004). At the other end of the continuum the strategies are more structured and provide the </p><p>Journal qFResearch on Technology in Education 5 </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>141.</p><p>214.</p><p>17.2</p><p>22] </p><p>at 1</p><p>6:26</p><p> 01 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p></li><li><p>student with considerable learner pidance (van Merrienboer, 1997; van Mer- rienboer &amp; Kirschner, 2007). For learners already familiar with a given content area unstructured exploratory learning approaches may be appropriate, however for learners who are novice in a content area, learner guidance is essential. </p><p>The task-centered instructional strategy presented in this paper is a structured approach and represents a form of direct instruction in the context of real world problems. The emphasis is on demonstration (worked examples) rather than on discovery or exploration. While collaboration can certainly be employed, it is not a central or required part of this approach. Students can undertake a task-centered approach as an individual learner as well as in a group. This task- centered approach integrates component knowledge and skill acquisitior with the doing of complex tasks. Topic-centered approaches, typical of much currznt instruction, may be sufficient for acquiring foundational skills or to enhance the skills of advanced technical learners. However, for learners new to a content area, integrating component knowledge and skills into whole tasks results in higher motivation and a better ability to apply the newly acquired skill in new situations. </p><p>Much of our earlier work was on strategies for teaching individual skills and acquiring different kinds of learning outcomes (Merrill, 1983, 1987, 1988, 1994, 1997; Merrill, Tennyson, &amp; Posey, 1992). In collaboration with Robert CagnC, we began to think about a more integrated approach (GagnC &amp; Merrill, 1990). While attempting to identify first principles of instruction we found th-at instruction in the context of complex, authentic, real-world tasks was a critical part of an engaging instructional strategy (Merrill, 2002a). While attempting to find ways to automate some of the instructional design process, we devel- oped ways to specify the content to be learned in terms of knowledge objects (Merrill, 1998, 2001~) . In this paper all of these separate strategies are brought together in an integrated, multi-strand strategy for teaching how to solve red- world problems or for how to complete complex real-world tasks. </p><p>FIRST PRINCIPLES OF INSTRUCTION We have previously identified first principles of instruction (Merrill, 2002c, </p><p>2002a, 2006, 2007, press-a). These principles describe a cycle of instructional phases consisting of activation, demonstration, application, and integration all in the context of real world problems or tasks. We have previously described knowledge objects consisting of an entity, its parts, properties, associated ac- tivities and processes (Merrill, 1998, 1999, 200 1 a, 200 1 b, 2002b). This paper brings these two ideas together to describe the knowledge components of a whole task and how these knowledge components can be sequenced for effi- cient, effective, and engaging instruction. </p><p>Figure 1 states these first principles of instruction. This paper will bring t h s e principles together into a systematic task-centered instructional strategy. </p><p>PEBBLE-IN-THE-POND APPROACH TO INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN Figure 2 (page 8) illustrates a Pebble-in-the-Pond approach to instructional </p><p>design. Compared to other instructional development approaches this modd </p><p>6 Fall 2007: Volume 40 Numbel 1 </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>141.</p><p>214.</p><p>17.2</p><p>22] </p><p>at 1</p><p>6:26</p><p> 01 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p></li><li><p>5, lNTEGRATfON 2. ACTIVATION Learning is promoted when Learning is promoted when learners integrate their new skills learners activate relevant into their everyday life. previous knowledge. </p><p>I. TASK CENTERED Learning is promoted </p><p>when learners acquire concepts and principles in the context of real-world </p><p>tasks Learning is promoted Learning is promoted when learners apply when learners observe a </p><p>demonstration of the skills and skill. to be learned. </p><p>4. APPLICATION 3. DEMONSTRATION </p><p>Figure I: Firstprinciples of instruction. </p><p>more effectively designs products that incorporate first principles of instruction. The Pebble model offers a different approach to content analysis as compared with more traditional instructional systems development (ISD). Traditional ISD specifies objectives in the analysis phase early in the design process but doesn't specify the actual content to be taught until later during the develop- ment phase. Objectives are abstractions that represent the content rather than being the actual content itself. 'The Pebble model is a content-first approach. The first steps in this approach identify a collection of real-world tasks that will later form the actual content of the instruction. The first step identifies a typical whole task and produces a fully worked out example of that task. The second step identifies a series of similar tasks of increasing complexity. 'The third step identifies component skills common to these tasks. In this Pebble model design- ers specify the content to be taught up front and only later combine this con- tent with an instructional strategy to provide the complete instructional design. </p><p>This paper elaborates the first four ripples in this design model: (1) specify a real-world task, (2) identify a progression of tasks, (3) specify component knowledge and skill for each task, and (4) specify an instructional strategy for task-centered instruction. It should be noted that the first three phases in the Pebble model are concerned with the task-centered, first principle and specify the subject matter content to be taught before there is consideration for how this material will be taught. Starting with whole tasks assures that the compo- nent knowledge and skill to be taught are relevant and integrated. </p><p>Only in the fourth phase, after the content has been identified and specified, does the Pebble model specify the instructional strategy to teach this content. Effective instructional strategies for whole tasks and for the component knowl- edge and skill that comprise these tasks require consistent demonstmtion and application at both the individual component level and at the whole task level. ?he instructional strategy described in this paper emphasizes demonstration and application. </p><p>Journal of Research on Technology in Education 7 </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>141.</p><p>214.</p><p>17.2</p><p>22] </p><p>at 1</p><p>6:26</p><p> 01 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p></li><li><p>Whole Task </p><p>Progression </p><p>Components </p><p>Strategy </p><p>Intedace </p><p>Production </p><p>Pebble-in-the-Pond instructional Design I Figure 2: A Pebble-in-the-Pond approach to instructional design. </p><p>SPECIFY A REAL-WORLD TASK l e central first-~rinci~le of instruction is task-centered. The first ripple in the </p><p>pebble model identifies a specific complete real-world task and a worked ex- ample of this task. A real-world task is one that learners can expect to encoun- ter in their life following instruction. It can stand alone but it may also be a component of an even larger task. A real-world task is one specific instance of a class of tasks for which there are multiple specific instances. It is a complete task that includes at least three components: (a) inputs-the givens of the task; (b) a goal-the identification of the product or activity that results from performing the task; and (c) a solution-a set of activities that transforms the givens into the goal. It also includes an illustration of the problem-solving process-a rep- resentation of someone actually performing the task. </p><p>Real-world tasks are not contrived. 'They often do not have a single correct answer. They can often be solved in several ways and the resulting artifact or activity can take several forms. The best representation of the task allows learn- ers to do the rask in its natural setting. Figure 3 shows a design approach for a task-centered course. </p><p>The specification of a real-world task should also include the criterion for ac- ceptable performance. How do you know when the learner has completed the task or solved the problem in a satisfactory or a superior way? 'What are the properties to be used for rating learner performance? </p><p>IDENTIFUA PROGRESSION OF TASKS The second ripple in the pebble model is to specify a progression of tasks. </p><p>Each task in the progression should be complete, not merely a step in a larger task. Each task should be a worked example from the set of similar tasks. Each task in the progression, while varying from preceding tasks, requires the same or similar knowledge and skill components. Each rask in the progression is a por- </p><p>8 Fall 2007: Volume 40 Number 1 </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>141.</p><p>214.</p><p>17.2</p><p>22] </p><p>at 1</p><p>6:26</p><p> 01 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p></li><li><p>A Task-Centered Course in Entrepreneurship </p><p>The Center for Instructional Technology and Outreach at Brigham Young Uni- versirp developed a task-centered course in Entrepreneurship (Mendenhall et al., 2C106a, 2006b). 'The primary goal of the course is to teach the fundamental steps for starting a business to non-business majors in developing countries. 'The whole task involves six steps: (1) Identify a business opportunity, (2) Define the idea, t3...</p></li></ul>


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