Abdullah Al Mamun : Seminar

Fri 15 Dec 2017 2:00pm3:00pm


Room 506 Building 24
The role of scaffolding in the instructional design of online, self-directed, inquiry-based learning environments: Student engagement and learning approaches

A seminar with Abdullah Al Mamun

Room 506 Building 24

December 15, 2017 2-3pm



Developing learning technologies offer educators opportunities to provide online learning environments that are flexible and personalized for student learning. However, the methods for the successful implementation of these technologies are still problematic in curriculum areas such as science education. For example, sophisticated technologies that allow students to explore major conceptual ideas in science are increasingly available, but, reframing educational settings so that students can and do take advantage of the innovative opportunities remains a challenge. This study explores the effectiveness of the pedagogical support and strategies employed for implementing the available sophisticated technology. Further, the study investigates student engagement and efficacious approaches to learning in the online and inquiry learning settings in the absence of personalized, synchronous support from teachers or peers. This study adopts qualitative research methods and is framed in constructivism as its theoretical background. An interpretive methodology was employed for the purpose of explaining students’ experiences with the scaffolded learning modules in an online context. A stimulated recall interview, observational notes, video records, students’ written responses were the research tools used to understand the influences of the adopted scaffolding method on students’ engagement and their approaches to learning.

Findings from this study suggest the strategic value of evaluate (E) phase as an extension of the widely used predict, observe and explain (POE) scaffolding framework into new learning contexts notably for self-directed online learning. In particular, the study exposed the considerable influence of strong instructional supports, strategic integration of multiple external representations, and question prompts embedded in the POEE scaffolded learning modules on students’ ability to engage effectively with independent study. It is significant that learners with prior knowledge and experience benefitted most in this self-directed environment in terms of their level of engagement and the deep learning approaches they adopted; conversely the lack of prior knowledge and relevant experiences jeopardized for some learners the opportunities to gain deep science conceptual understandings. This implies the need for more personalized learning settings for novice learners.

This study concludes that despite the inherent limitations manifest in the online context, scaffolded learning modules can provide a proximal learning environment for inquiry-based online learning. The findings of this study contribute to the growing body of evidence demonstrating that the strategically designed implementation of inquiry based online learning holds promise for the creation of a successful learning environment to meet the ever-changing demand for online educational reform.