The Effects of Multimedia-Supported Problem-based Inquiry on Student Engagement, Empathy, and Assumptions About History

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Thomas Brush
John Saye


This research extends a continuing line of inquiry investigating how multimedia resources might be joined with other support structures to effectively implement problem-based inquiry (PBI) activities in secondary history classrooms. Two history teachers with experience in PBI implemented a technology-supported problem-based civil rights unit in their classrooms. Analysis of data obtained from classroom observations, observations of student presentations, and student and teacher interviews suggests that the multimedia problem-based unit provided an authentic context for encountering historical content, provoked empathetic views of historical dilemmas, and encouraged meaningful encounters with historical issues that promoted engagement and more advanced epistemological beliefs about history. Suggestions for improving scaffolds to support problem-based history activities are also presented based on the findings from this study.

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