Can multimedia make kids care about social studies? The globaled problem-based learning simulation

Jul 2, 2013, 12:26 PM
Ioannou, A., Brown, S.W., Hannafin, R.D. & Boyer, M.A. (2009). Can Multimedia Make Kids Care About Social Studies? The GlobalEd Problem-Based Learning Simulation. Computers in the Schools, 26(1), 63-81.


  • Grade/Age Level: Middle School
  • Specific Difficulty Addressed: Social Studies interest/positive attitude towards Social Studies and knowledge of world issues
  • Type of AT Used: GlobalEd Project simulation



  • 190 students participated in the quasi-experimental design either in a multimedia enhanced web site group or text based web site group.
  • All students participated in the GlobalEd Project simulation in which students from 15 classrooms across the U.S. are assigned a country to represent. Students in each class are divided into small groups to focus on (a) conflict and cooperation, (b) international economics, (c) global environment, (d) human rights, and (e) world security. Groups from each “country” communicate weekly with like groups from other “countries”.
  • The GlobalED Project simulation lasts 5 weeks, with the culminating event of a treaty negotiation covering all 5 issues.  -5 of the “countries” (181 students) had access to multimedia-enhanced web sites, while the other 10 “countries” (178 students) had access only to text based web sites.
  • Interviews were conducted with 6 of the 10 participating teachers. -Measures used were a: Social Studies Quiz (pre- and posttest), Social Studies Interest Subscale (pre- and posttest), and Instructional Effectiveness Attitudes Subscale (posttest).


  • Students generally showed improvement in knowledge level after the simulation.
  • Results compared knowledge in the global environment issues for those with multimedia and those with text only, as well as students in the global environment group and those in other groups.
  • There were no significant differences found between those in the global environment multimedia and text based groups in knowledge level, with similar results for students not in the global environment group, although it was in the direction of greater knowledge for the multimedia group.
  • For interest level, there was no significant difference between the multimedia groups and text groups for either the global environment group or the other groups, but ceiling effects of the assessment are suspected to have affected this outcome.
  • Interest in social studies across groups increased.
  • Instructional effectiveness was not significantly different across multimedia and text groups, but in the direction of higher instructional effectiveness for the multimedia group.
  • The multimedia website was visited 150 times as compared to the text only website visited 31 times.
  • Due to the sample size, power may have contributed to Type II error in the results.
  • Social Studies