Jasper Immersion Video Series

General Project Description:
The video series, The Adventures of Jasper Woodbury focuses on mathematical problem-solving. Each 15-20 minute video in the series presents a challenge or problem that students must solve before seeing how the major characters solved the problem. Additional problem-solving experiences designed to promote skill transfer are provided in the context of "what if", analog problem-solving situations. Content is anchored in the life of characters with whom the students can identify in order to motivate them to reason about complex problems. Also important in this approach is an emphasis on being able to move from a general understanding of a complex problem to a context in which overall goals can be generated. The series is based on the "anchored-instruction" approach which emphasizes complex problem-solving through in-context, apprenticeship training.

Multiple perspectives X
Student-directed goals X
Teachers as coaches X
Metacognition X
Learner control X
Authentic activities & contexts X
Knowledge construction X
Knowledge collaboration X
Previous knowledge constructions X
Problem solvingX
Consideration of errors X
Exploration X
Apprenticeship learningX
Conceptual interrelatedness X
Alternative viewpointsX
Scaffolding X
Authentic assessment X
Primary sources of dataX

The following list indicates the way in which the characteristics were accommodated or supported:

  1. Multiple perspectives:
    Concepts and content may be presently differently in each video or within the same video. Materials have been developed that allow students to revisit original adventures from new perspectives and to engage in "what if" thinking. Students learn to represent multiple solution paths to the problems being solved. Teacher materials emphasize that there are many possible solutions. (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1993).

  2. Student-directed goals:
    Students are encouraged to identify their own own questions, goals and issues (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1993).

  3. Teachers as coaches:
    Teachers guide students' interactions as they work cooperatively to solve problems (Young, Nastasi & Braunhardt, 1996). "(...) teachers must be flexible; they cannot follow a fully-scripted lesson plan. In addition, teachers cannot be experts in each topic (...) so they must often become learners along with their students" (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1993, p.54).

  4. Metacognition:
    Some applications of the Jasper series require students to use journals in order to encourage students to be reflective about their problem-solving experiences (Young, Nastasi & Braunhardt, 1996). Students are also encouraged to assess their need to better understand certain concepts in order to solve a particular problem (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1993).

  5. Learner control:
    Students can follow up their work on a Jasper adventure with more personalized, student-generated projects that are related to the adventures. "We have suggested to teachers that they allow students to guide the course of their learning to the extent that students are able" (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1993, p. 54).

  6. Authentic activities & contexts:
    The Jasper videodisc adventures present problems in a real-life story or context. Learning is contextualized. The knowledge being learned is used as a tool to accomplish the tasks.1

  7. Knowledge construction:
    The emphasis on problem-solving stresses knowledge construction as opposed to knowledge "telling". Students need to identify what it is they do not know and as a group, must try to extend their understanding.

  8. Knowledge collaboration:
    Students work collaboratively in small groups to solve problems. Students then present their solutions to their fellow classmates. Knowledge collaboration is a necessity since problems are so complex, it is unlikely that students could solve them individually (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1993).

  9. Previous knowledge constructions:
    Relevant concepts are not pretaught rather students are expected to see the need for new learning based on previous knowledge constructions combined with the knowledge, concepts and skills required to solve the problems.

  10. Problem Solving:
    Jasper is specifically designed to develop problem-solving skills in mathematics as well as higher-order thinking skills such as planning, formulating problems, finding and constructing information, mathematical calculation and decision-making 1.

  11. Consideration of errors:
    Not observed

  12. Exploration:
    Students are encouraged to seek knowledge independently. They can engage in exploration of the Jasper adventure by researching aspects of the adventure that interest them. Mathematical concepts such as the different kinds of geometries are also explored as students problem solve (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1992).

  13. Apprenticeship learning:
    The series emphasizes complex problem-solving through in-context apprenticeship training in which there is an increasing complexity of tasks and skills.

  14. Conceptual interrelatedness:
    Although the emphasis is on mathematics, the series nonetheless includes other curricular areas and is interdisciplinary in its approach. The series makes connections to other areas such as science, social studies, literature and history.

  15. Alternative viewpoints:
    The collaborative problem-solving approach encourages "negotiation of perspectives". Students must "pose and resolve discrepant viewpoints" (Young, Nastasi & Braunhardt, 1996, p.183).

  16. Scaffolding:
    Scaffolding is made possible through expert-novice support and through "structure within the environment that constrained the types of interactions students could have with the problem, the local expert (teacher), and with one another" (Young, Nastasi & Braunhardt, 1996, p.127). Scaffolds are also provided in embedded teaching episodes which include information on how to use a compass, estimate heights and widths or read topographical maps (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1993).

  17. Authentic assessment:
    Not observed

  18. Primary sources of data:
    Problems are anchored in "real-world" situations which illustrate the complexity and interrelatedness of variables and information.


Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1992). The Jasper Series as an example of anchored instruction: Theory, progam, description, and assessment data. Educational Psychologist, 27(3), 291-315.

Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1993). Anchored instruction and situated cognition revisited. Educational Technology, 33(3), 52-70.

Jasper Immersion
Available at:

Young, M. Nastasi, B & Braunhardt, L. (1996). Implementing Jasper immersion: A case of conceptual change. In B. Wilson (Ed.), Constructivist learning environments: Case studies in instructional design (pp.121-133). New Jersey: Educational Technology Publications.

(1) Introduction to The Adventures of Jasper Woodbury
Available at:

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This site was created by Elizabeth Murphy, Summer, 1997.