Anchored Instruction

CTGV (the Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1990) explained that anchored instruction as instruction that "is anchored (situated) in videodisc-based, problem-solving environments that teachers and students can explore. The ultimate goals of anchored instruction are to foster learners' problem solving skills and to help students to become independent thinkers and learners (CTGV, 1990). Anchored instruction was developed to solve the problem of inert knowledge, which is thought as an arbitrary set of procedures or facts.

Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (CTGV) proposed to establish a learning environment with rich contextual information and affordance of authentic problem solving experience in order to help students to see the need for new learning. Thus, knowledge is a means or a tool to the ends instead of the ends.

Thus, anchored instruction has the following the essential components (CTGV, 1990):

  1. Video-based macrocontexts as anchors: Anchored instruction situates instruction in the rich context of meaningful authentic problem-solving environment, provides kinds of problems and opportunities that experts in various areas encounter, as well as helps students explore the knowledge that the expert use as tools
  2. Simulation of apprenticeship that comprises authentic tasks
  3. Videodisc formats, which are used because of the following reasons
  1. Goal-oriented problem solving process: Students are challenged to engage in problem finding and problem solving activities. Students must identify major goals, generate the sub-problem that represent obstacles to the goal, and devise strategies to deal with various subproblems

Examples of the Anchored Instruction

The instructional design principles underlying the anchored instruction are:

  1. Instruction highlights the use of knowledge to help students to see the needs of learning the new information and set up the learning goals.
  2. Students are encouraged to identify their own questions to the problem, to set up their own goals, and issues when they explore the anchors, a problem solving environment in a videodisc format, to identify relevant information and to come up with solutions.
  3. Teachers need to learn to give control to students letting students to establish their learning goals. Teachers are no longer authoritative sources of knowledge, but facilitators and guides to support students' problem solving process, such as helping them to identify their goals.

Why anchors?

CTGV (1993) argued that anchors are macro-contexts that consist of rich information and are complex to be viewed from several perspectives. It is different from the micro-contexts, that are individual examples that are used to illustrate a particular dimension from a specific perspective.


CTGV. (1990). Anchored instruction and its relationship to situated cognition. Educational Researcher, 19 (6), 2-10.

CTGV. (1993). Anchored Instruction and Situated Cognition Revisited. Educational Technology, 33 (3). P. 52-70.