The Effect of Using Guided Questions and Collaborative Groups for Complex Problem Solving on Performance and Attitude in a Web-enhanced Learning Environment
Problem based learning
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AbstractTo enhance complex problem solving in Web-Based Instruction (WBI), this study used collaborative groups and guided questions in a hybrid web-enhanced learning environment in which students attended class face-to-face and online. A Problem-Based Learning (PBL) approach was used to design a complex problem scenario for the students. The participants were pre-service teachers enrolled in an introductory educational technology course in the College of Education at a large university in the southeastern United States. Students voluntarily participated in the study as an optional part of class activities. The independent variables used were collaborative groups (presence vs. absence), and guided questions (present vs. absent). The dependent variables of this study were (a) learning outcomes that were determined by measuring students’ final products with scoring rubrics, (b) learning processes that were evaluated by observation and review of discussion board postings, and (c) attitudes toward problem solving that were measured by questionnaires and the Instructional Material Motivation Survey (IMMS). Students were engaged in solving a scenario for three weeks and participated in both classroom and online discussion activities. A mixed method study design was applied, which combined an experimental study and qualitative data analysis that included interviews, discussion board message analysis, and observations. The result of this experimental study showed that the students working individually with guided questions (IQ) significantly outperformed the other treatment groups. It appeared that guided questions were an effective learning strategy for solving complex problems. There were no significant differences for problem-solving attitude among the four groups. The result from the discussion board message analysis showed a positive relationship between a high level of group discussion engagement and the problem solving outcome. The study implied that, in order for students to gain the full benefits from collaborative group work, the group discussion process should be moderated, especially when students are novice learners in problem solving. Additionally, using guided questions was effective when students worked individually and used the questions as a guideline or checklist. Findings from this study will inform future research efforts on collaborative learning and complex problem solving in web-enhanced educational environments.