Anchor Instruction

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Anchored instruction is the process of presenting instruction in the context of an authentic environment with problems or issues which learners must resolve. The problems or issues which are presented to learners in the authentic environment are “anchors” which link learning of content and skills to authentic tasks and activities in which the learning must used.

The defining characteristics of anchored instruction are that it utilizes complex, multi-layered, authentic environments, it promotes sustained, long-term exploration of anchoring problems/issues in these authentic environments and it also promotes the exploration of anchoring problems from multiple perspectives e.g. in an Ecology or Geography course, looking at an environmental issue from the perspectives of a local entrepreneur, a conservationist, and a town council.

As an instructional strategy, anchored instruction is located within the larger instructional model known as situated cognition.

Link to example artifact(s)

Anchored instruction activity

Link to scholarly reference(s)

Btansford, J. D., Sherwood, R. D., Hasselbring, T. S., Kinzer, C.K., & Williams, S. M. (1990). Anchored instruction: Why we need it and how technology can help. In D. Nix & R.Spiro (Eds.), Cognition, education, and multimedia. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum

Chen, L., Peng, C., & Zhang, J. (2010, June). The study of Anchored Instruction’s application based on Web3D. In Education Technology and Computer (ICETC), 2010 2nd International Conference on (Vol. 4, pp. V4-526). IEEE.

Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1990). Anchored instruction and its relationship to situated cognition. Educational Researcher, 19 (6), 2-10.

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

Park, K., & Park, S. (2012). Development of professional engineers’ authentic contexts in blended learning environments. British Journal of Educational Technology, 43(1), E14-E18.


Daniel-Gittens, K., Thompson, K., & Carter, P. (2014). Anchor instruction. In B. Chen & K. Thompson (Eds.), Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Center for Distributed Learning.

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