Application Principle

This is the step where talk turns into action. Learning is the intended outcome when students have the opportunity to apply the new knowledge through the application process. Merrill (2008) discusses the application principle as appropriate for general knowledge and skills: “Generalizable knowledge and skills are applied when learners use them to solve a new problem or complete a different task from the one that was used to demonstrate” (p. 48). The key instructional strategies that are needed include feedback, coaching, and peer collaboration.

Feedback is critical during the application process. Students need to recall and apply what they learned and discussed in the two previous steps. Understanding the consequences of incorrect choices assists the learner in improving the quality of her or his actions. Feedback also allows discussions to determine if the learners’ predictions of the outcomes were accurate. The term guide on the side is activated through the instructor’s role as a coach. The goal is for the instructor to provide substantial assistance during the beginning, simpler steps. As the steps become more complex, the instructor’s involvement lessens. The final emphasis is on peer-collaboration: “.learners must first come to some solutions on their own and then interact with fellow learners to describe, discuss, and defend their solution in an attempt to come to some agreed solution” (Merrill 2008, p. 49). This application focus can be condensed to: student with task (with feedback), student with instructor (phasing back as complexity increases), and then student with peers. This phase is where a student’s confidence (ARCS) is reinforced by being able to demonstrate her or his capability in completing and defending the learning task.

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