810 Interaction in Group-Based and Individualized Instruction

This paper compares six types of group-based and individualized instructional approaches on the basis of planned opportunities for learner interaction. Three types of interaction are suggested as crucial components of the education process (Anderson, 2003; Moore, 1989) and frame this comparison, including (a) learner-content interaction, (b) learner-instructor interaction, and (c) learner-learner interaction. The following considers how these six groupbased and individualized instructional approaches distribute the instructional load among the three interaction types and suggests that the differences in interactional emphasis across the approaches reflects a value judgment regarding the relative advantage of each type of interaction. However, it is further suggested that additional research is needed to evaluate whether a relative advantage exists or whether the perceived advantage relates to the efficiency of instructional delivery rather than the effectiveness of the instructional strategy to support the processing of the to-be-learned material. 810 Interaction in Group-Based and Individualized Instruction

Interaction in Group-based and Individualized Instruction 1 Running head: INTERACTION IN GROUP-BASED AND INDIVIDUALIZED INSTRUCTION Interaction in Group-based and Individualized Instruction Jennifer Maddrell Old Dominion University IDT 810 Trends and Issues in Contemporary Instructional Design Dr. Gary Morrison April 14, 2009 Interaction in Group-based and Individualized Instruction 2 Instructional Load of Interaction Types This paper compares six types of group-based and individualized instructional approaches on the basis of planned opportunities for learner interaction. Three types of interaction are suggested as crucial components of the education process (Anderson, 2003; Moore, 1989) and frame this comparison, including (a) learner-content interaction, (b) learner-instructor interaction, and (c) learner-learner interaction. The following considers how these six groupbased and individualized instructional approaches distribute the instructional load among the three interaction types and suggests that the differences in interactional emphasis across the approaches reflects a value judgment regarding the relative advantage of each type of interaction. However, it is further suggested that additional research is needed to evaluate whether a relative advantage exists or whether the perceived advantage relates to the efficiency of instructional delivery rather than the effectiveness of the instructional strategy to support the processing of the to-be-learned material. Distribution of Instructional Load by Interaction Type Group-based Instruction Traditional classroom. While it is impossible to generalize the interaction that exists across all face-to-face and virtual classrooms, some critics of the traditional classroom characterize the instruction as dominated by the learner-teacher interaction where learner-content and learner-learner interaction play smaller supporting roles (Hannafin, Land, & Oliver, 1983). In such a classroom, the teacher-learner interaction focuses on teacher presentation, guidance and help during learner practice, and feedback following practice. Learner-content interaction incorporates standardized forms of content, such as textbooks and hand-outs, prepared for and utilized by all learners in the group. While learner-learner interaction includes classroom discussion, research suggests a very small percentage of classroom time is spent in learnerlearner discussion (Nunn, 1996). Figure 1 suggests a distribution of the instructional load based on this view of the traditional group-based classroom. Figure 1. Distribution of Instructional Load – Traditional Classroom Group-based learning environments. In contrast to the traditional classroom described above, some advocate group-based learning environments in which the learner-teacher interaction shifts from a mediating to a scaffolding role the instruction (Hannafin et al., 1983). As suggested in Figure 2, the group-based learning environment places significant emphasis on the learner-content interaction. While the learner-learner interactions are recognized as being Interaction in Group-based and Individualized Instruction 3 supportive of the learner-content interaction, learner control over the learner-content interaction is paramount . Figure 2. Distribution of Instructional Load – Group-based Learning Environments Group-based communities of inquiry (CoI). The objective of a CoI model is to support critical thinking and critical discourse though a mix of learner-learner, learner-content, and learner-teacher interactions designed to optimize (a) teacher presence, (b) social presence, and (c) cognitive presence (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 1999). As suggested in Figure 3, the CoI places high value on all three forms of interaction. Figure 3. Distribution of Instructional Load – Community of Inquiry Individualized Instruction The Keller Plan. As depicted in Figure 4, Keller (1968) suggests a personalized system of instruction (PSI) which incorporates learner-content and learner-tutor interaction where the tutor (or proctor) can be a peer who has mastered the material. As such, the learner-tutor interaction is a hybrid of the previously described learner-teacher and learner-learner interaction as the peer has already successfully completed the instructional material. In Keller’s approach, learnercontent interaction is the critical design consideration. Learners work independently and at their own pace working toward personal mastery of the presented instructional content. Learner-tutor interaction is considered as motivational and administrative rather than for the delivery of critical information (Grant & Spencer, 2003). Interaction in Group-based and Individualized Instruction 4 Figure 4. Distribution of Instructional Load – Keller’s PSI Distance education independent study. Early distance education approaches were based on independent study (Garrison & Shale, 1987; Keegan, 1996). Wedemeyer (1981) characterized independent study as a teaching-learning arrangement which allows learners the freedom and opportunity to self-direct their learning within their own environment. Unlike more recent group forms of distance education which incorporate expanded learner-learner interaction, independent (or private) distance education approaches rely on significant learner-content interaction with added support for two-way learner-teacher interaction (Garrison & Shale). Figure 5. Distribution of Instructional Load – Distance Education Independent Study Personal learning environment. The April 2008 special edition of the Interactive Learning Environments journal was dedicated to a discussion of the personal learning environment (PLE). Concurrent with the explosion of web-based communication technologies, two views of technology enabled PLEs have emerged, including (a) a learner-centered but provider-driven approach, and (b) a learner-driven approach where the role and control of the institution (as provider of education) is diminished (Johnson & Liber, 2008). Within the learnercentered provider-driven approach, personal web-based communication and interaction tools, such as instant messaging, content aggregation and management, and authoring tools, enable personalized learning activities within the institution’s virtual environment (Johnson & Liber, 2008; Severance, Hardin, & Whyte, 2008; Van Harmelen, 2008). In contrast, a learner-driven PLE approach challenges the centralization and institutional control and ownership of instructional tools and content and shifts the instructional focus to life-long learning beyond the classroom and to individualized construction of portable instructional artifacts which the learner Interaction in Group-based and Individualized Instruction 5 retains and maintains over time (Severance et al., 2008; Wilson, 2008). In either form, a PLE is generally conceived of as a technology-enabled network which connects the learner with people (inside and outside the classroom) and resources (Wilson, 2008). As such, the learner-content and learner-peer interactions dominate the PLE instructional approach with the learner-teacher interaction playing a supporting role, as depicted in Figure 6. Figure 6. Distribution of Instructional Load –Personal Learning Environments The Quest for the Right Interaction Mix Value Judgment It is suggested that the interaction within the noted designs represents the beliefs of the designers regarding the relative value of the interaction types. As suggested in Table 1 these beliefs manifest themselves within the design of the instruction with the three interaction types being either (a) emphasized, (b) viewed as necessary, but emphasis neutral, or (c) deemphasized. Table 1. Interaction Type Emphasis within Instructional Approach LearnerContent Group-based Instruction Traditional Classroom Learning Environments Community of Inquiry Individualized Instruction Keller PSI Distance Education - Independent Study Personal Learning Environments       LearnerLearner       LearnerTeacher        = Emphasized;  = Recognized as needed, but emphasis neutral;  = De-emphasized Given the range in interactional emphasis across these instructional approaches, it is suggested that interaction is not value neutral across instructional designers. Inherent in the highlighted group-based and individualized instructional approaches is a value judgment regarding the right (or optimal) interactional mix. An important question for future study is Interaction in Group-based and Individualized Instruction 6 whether the use and mix of interaction types within the design of instruction makes a difference in terms of instructional effectiveness? Or, can learning occur as effectively through any combination of learner-learner, learner-content, learner teacher interaction? If so, is the primary interactional consideration instructional efficiency versus effectiveness? Interaction as Instruction Delivery Mode or Instructional Strategy To conduct such an evaluation, it is necessary to consider whether interaction is a way to facilitate instructional message delivery (as in an instructional delivery mode) or if interaction is a method to facilitate the processing of the to-be-learned material (as in an instructional strategy). As is suggested within research regarding the comparative ability of various media to effectively deliver instruction (Clark, 1983), it is conceivable that the ability of various interaction types to deliver the instructional load is equivalent. For example, is it just as effective for a learner to independently read instructional content in a book (learner-content interaction) as it is to have a teacher present the same content in a lecture to the class (learner-teacher interaction)? Anderson (2003) suggests within his equivalency theorem that a designer can substitute one type of interaction for another. If this is the case, then selection and mix of learnercontent, learner-learner, and learner-teacher interaction in the delivery of instruction should not impact instructional effectiveness and the design consideration centers on efficiency. However, if interaction is conceived of as something other than a means to deliver the instruction, but rather as an instructional strategy which supports the learner’s processing of the instructional material, is there a difference in effectiveness across these interaction types? Some suggest a significant difference in the opportunities for critical thinking in learner-content interaction involving unresponding course material and critical discourse in two-way learnerlearner and learner-teacher interaction (Garrison, 1990). Summary The field has forwarded a variety of group-based and individualized instructional approaches incorporating a range of learner-content, learner-learner, and learner-teacher interactions. Inherent in these forwarded approaches is a value judgment regarding the relative advantage of one type of interaction over another. However, it is suggested that further study is needed to evaluate whether there is an advantage of one form over another or if the perceived advantage relates to the efficiency of instructional delivery rather than instructional effectiveness. Additional research is needed to consider whether there a comparative difference in terms of how the interaction types effect the processing of the to-be-learned material or whether any form of interaction be an equivalent substitute for another to deliver instruction. Interaction in Group-based and Individualized Instruction 7 References Anderson, T. (2003). Getting the Mix Right Again: An Updated and Theoretical Rationale for Interaction. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning; Vol 4, No 2 (2003). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/149. Clark, R. E. (1983). Reconsidering the research on media. Review of Educational Research, 53(4), 445-459. Garrison, D., & Shale, D. (1987). Mapping the boundaries of distance education: Problems in defining the field. American Journal of Distance Education, 1, 4-13. Garrison, D. R. (1990). An Analysis and Evaluation of Audio Teleconferencing to Facilitate Education at a Distance. 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