Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering

First Advisor

Dr Ron Oliver

Second Advisor

Dr Murray Lake


The instructional technology community is in the midst of a philosophical shift from a behaviourist to a constructivist framework, a move that may begin to address the growing rift between formal school learning and real-life learning. One theory of learning which has the capacity to promote authentic learning is that of situated learning. The purpose of the study was to investigate the way students learn from an interactive multimedia package and learning environment based on a situated learning model. To do this, it was necessary to identify the critical characteristics of a situated learning model based on the extensive literature on the subject. An interactive multimedia learning environment for university level students was then designed according to these characteristics of a situated learning model. The learning environment comprised an interactive multimedia program on assessment in mathematics, together with recommended implementation conditions in the classroom. Specifically, the research sought to investigate the way preservice teachers used interactive multimedia based on a situated learning model, how they responded to the critical elements of the situated learning environment, what types of higher-order thinking they used as they worked with the program, and whether learning transferred to their professional teaching practice in schools. The research took the form of an interpretive, qualitative study. The major methods of data collection were videotaping of preservice teachers using the interactive multimedia program, observation, and interviews with both the preservice teachers and their supervising teachers in schools. Data was analysed using techniques of qualitative analysis recommended by Eisner (1991) and Miles and Huberman (1994). Findings suggest that the use of the situated learning model was a successful alternative to the system models frequently used for the development of interactive multimedia, and one that enabled students to freely navigate a complex resource. When implemented with all the characteristics defined in the model, it appeared to provide an effective framework for the design of an environment for the acquisition of advanced know ledge. Students used a substantial amount of higher-order thinking, relatively little social and lower order talk, and a moderate amount of procedural talk as they worked with the assessment program. While on their professional practice in schools, the students used a variety of assessment techniques to assess children's learning, and they were able to speak knowledgably and confidently about the issue of assessment, supporting the view that they had incorporated their learning deeply into their cognitive structures. According to the beliefs of the students themselves, the multimedia program appeared to influence the types of strategies they employed and their thinking about assessment as they taught mathematics and other classes during their professional practice. The major implication of the research is that new learning theory can inform the instructional design of interactive multimedia. For implementation in contexts of advanced knowledge acquisition, an instructional design model based on situated learning is an effective substitute for the traditional instructional systems model. Further implications are that excessive intervention by the developer in providing interaction between the program and the learner is not necessary, and that multimedia materials are best designed and implemented socially, not as independent instruction for individual learners. At the conclusion of the thesis, extensive recommendations for further research, both systemic and analytic, are provided.