How Tools Help Students to Work In Open-ended and Complex Projects

When reasoning is difficult due to complexity or the open-ended nature of a project, tools can help students to understand the principles behind the assignment and implement the intended learning objectives.

  • Helping students to outline the project, create tasks, and organize their work.
  • Complexity is reduced and problem solving is more tractable.
  • Students identify important goals to pursue.
  • Automating aspects of a task enables students to focus on more productive parts of the project.
  • Student–tool partnership accomplish results beyond what the student could achieve alone.
  • Students focus more effectively on the conceptual aspects of the learning experience.
  • Helping to overcome the obstacles of unfamiliar approaches.
  • Identifying and implementing aspects of the process that students may otherwise neglect.
  • Students focus resources in productive ways.
  • Having an implementation plan reduces the overload experienced in the decision-making process.
  • Prompts and agendas can help students keep track of their plans and monitor their progress.
  • Reminding students of important goals to apply to their work.

Reference: Reiser, B. J. (2004). Scaffolding Complex Learning: The Mechanisms of Structuring and Problematizing Student Work.
The Journal of the Learning Sciences , 273-304.