Developing Pre-Service Teachers' Instructional Design Skills through Case-Based Instruction: Examining the Impact of Discussion Format and Use of Web 2.0 Tools

Adrie A Koehler, Purdue University


Case-based instruction (CBI) offers a potentially powerful means for building much needed instructional design skills in pre-service teachers (Flynn & Klein, 2001). Although research evidence attests to the effectiveness of CBI as a method for building problem-solving skills in learners (Ertmer & Quinn, 2007; Ertmer et al., 2014; Jonassen, 2011b) and while cases have been used for multiple instructional purposes with pre-service teachers (Butler, Lee, & Tippins, 2006; Hewitt, Pedretti, & Bencze, 2003; Kale & Whitehouse, 2012), limited research has combined these two ideas to focus on the possibility of using CBI to develop instructional design skills in pre-service teachers. At the same time, despite being recognized as an integral part of CBI (Ertmer & Koehler, 2014; Flynn & Klein, 2001; Levin, 1995), little research has focused on the role of discussions in the case-learning process and how emerging technologies can support learners as they interact with complex problems in face-to-face discussions. First, CBI as a teaching method in the development of pre-service teachers’ instructional design skills was investigated. As a sub-area to this focus, since discussions are typically used as part of the CBI process, different discussion methods were investigated to further understand how they influence the development of pre-service teachers’ instructional design skills. Second, how pre-service teachers use Web 2.0 tool affordances to support their problem solving efforts during CBI was examined. Additionally, as a sub-area of this focus, the impact of different discussion formats on Web 2.0 tool usage was also considered. A mixed-methods approach was utilized to investigate the development of instructional design skills in pre-service teachers (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011). Specifically, in this study, instructional design skills were conceptualized by considering ill-structured problem-solving processes (Choi & Lee, 2009; Ertmer & Stepich, 2005; Jonassen, 2000) and measured and explored through using students’ individual performance (pre/post-activity scores), group performance (case lesson plan scores), group instructional design techniques (case lesson plan content, sources of inspiration, discussion topics), student perspectives (lessons learned blogs, end-of-course evaluations), instructor observations, and Web 2.0 artifacts (descriptions and creations). Results indicate that utilizing an instructional design approach with pre-service teachers can be worthwhile in facilitating appropriate professional skills. At the same time, results indicate that not only do the discussions appear to play an important role in the learning that takes place during CBI, but also the structure of the discussions appears to impact the overall effectiveness of the method: Instructor-facilitated discussions appear to be more impactful in promoting student learning during CBI than self-guided discussions where the instructor plays a less active role. Finally, results from the study indicate that while Web 2.0 tools certainly have the potential to facilitate the learning that takes placed during CBI, learners were not always ready to use these tools to support their learning.




Newby, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Instructional Design|Educational technology

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