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o Research Methods o About This Program...
Bernie Combs
Psychology
Scottsdale Community College

Development of this program was supported by Maricopa District Instructional Technology Grant IT94A-3


Rationale
Many students today find it difficult to learn effectively from the traditional lecture method found in most colleges. Their world has been one dominated not by the written or spoken word but by video and graphic images, even image environments in which they are active participants.

Research has also shown that learners are not of one type. There are those that can learn simply by listening and thinking, as in the typical classroom lecture. But there are others that need to learn by seeing how things are structured and how they relate, and those that learn by doing, a sort of hands on trying of things.

New eductional tools, sometimes refered to as computer authoring languages, which drive multimedia presentations, offer educators a unique opportunity to design learning environments that address the aforementioned realities. These multimedia evironments can lead to greater interest which can lead to greater understanding which in turn leads to greater success.


But there are others that need to learn by seeing how things are structured and how they relate, and those that learn by doing, a sort of hands on trying of things.
These new tools also lend themselves to the kind of development that has application in multiple settings. That is, multimedia presentations can be given in conjunction with lecture format or students can work independently or collaboratively at remote sites, such as in an open computer lab or even at home, with the appropriate hardware.

Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons for the integration of these new tools in education is that they mimic a more natural learning environment, one in which the learner is active. My own experience, using commercially distributed computer based tutorials and simulations (and a few that I authored), has been that students enjoy and flourish in an environment full of sound and images and one in which they control the direction and pace of instruction. They report enjoying and benefiting from what they describe as hands on; or doing psychology. They also report that, particularly for the more difficult, conceptual parts of course content, they like the self pacing and conditional branching of computer based instruction.

For all of the above reasons then this project is to develop computer based multimedia materials that will help students learn basic science methodology as it applies to the social as well as the natural sciences. Although my intent is to use these materials in Introduction to Psychology (PY101), it is also my intent to make them generic enough to be used in any class that teaches science methodology; Sociology, Anthropology, Biology. These materials will be HyperCard based simulations and tutorials, incorporating the latest video and image capture and sound processessing capabilities while at the same time being cognizant what kinds of hardware students have access to and use of.


Program Description
We intend to develop materials that will be both tutorial in nature and involve simulation. Tutorials present information and can test knowledge acquisition while simulations allow for the kind conditional branching that is true interactivity. These materials will focus on five basic research methods; Experimental Method, Correlation, Surveys, Naturalistic Observation Method and Case Study Method (See figure 1).

These materials will be developed for the Macintosh platform. This platform is used by many other campuses in the district as well as being the choice of most educational institutions. The authoring software used will be HyperCard, an authoring language that is readily available to Mac users throught the district and because of its initial free distribution with all new Macintoshes, is still the authoring system of choice by many educational developers.

We are designing these materials primarly for the open computer lab (some campuses have additional satalite labs) setting to be used as a complement to lecture and testbook materials. Many students find mehodolgy a difficult area of content because of its conceptual nature. This computer based lab setting offers the educator a way to create experiences with the material, ones that are next to impossible to do in a large lecture hall. These experiences facitlitate the students concept formation. Additionally, the lab setting allows for the kind of self-pacing and interactivity that students find so appealing and instructionally sound. These materials could also be used in the classroom as adjunct lecture materials given the availability of large room display capabilities.

Developing the tutorial section of the material will involve the creative use of images, graphics and sound to help students recognize and differenciate the above mentioned research methods as well as what research questions they apply to and there limitations. The simulations will have students creating experiments from their choice of hypothyses and interpreting the meaning of correlational data.

These materials will be appropriate for any discipline that teaches basic research methodology; particularly the Social sciences of Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology and the natural science of Biology.