Student Engagement through Problem-Based Learning

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Student Engagement through Problem-Based Learning. George H. Watson, Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences & Deborah E. Allen, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences University of Delaware. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • Student Engagement through Problem-Based LearningGeorge H. Watson, Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences & Deborah E. Allen, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences University of DelawarePedagogies of Engagement: Deepening Learning In and Across the DisciplinesAAC&U Network for Academic Renewal Conference April 15, 2005Bethesda, MD

  • Characteristics Neededin College GraduatesHigh level of communication skillsAbility to define problems, gather and evaluate information, develop solutionsTeam skills -- ability to work with othersAbility to use all of the above to address problems in a complex real-world settingQuality Assurance in Undergraduate Education (1994)Wingspread Conference, ECS, Boulder, CO.

  • The principal idea behind PBL is that the starting point for learning should be a problem, a query, or a puzzle that the learner wishes to solve. Boud, D. (1985) PBL in perspective. In PBL in Educationfor the Professions, D. J. Boud (ed); p. 13.

    What Is PBL?

  • What are the CommonFeatures of PBL?Learning is initiated by a problem.Problems are based on complex, real-world situations.All information needed to solve problem is not given initially.Students identify, find, and use appropriate resources.Students work in permanent groups.Learning is active, integrated, cumulative, and connected.

  • Good PBL ProblemsRelate to real world, motivate studentsRequire decision-making or judgmentsAre multi-page, multi-stageAre designed for group-solvingPose open-ended initial questions that encourage discussionIncorporate course content objectives, higher order thinking, other skills

  • Deflating Grady Part 1Read over the e-mail exchange and discuss the ideas it raises about grade inflation

    As a group, compose a definition of grade inflation and be prepared to present it.

    Be prepared to report out in 10 minutes

  • Deflating Grady Part IIRead over the information presented, and be prepared to report out on your answers to questions 1 & 2:

    Be prepared to report out in 10 minutes

  • Deflating Grady Part IIITake a look at the graph from to your groups definition, is this evidence for grade inflation?

  • Presentation of ProblemOrganize ideas and prior knowledge(What do we know?)Pose questions (What dowe need to know?)Assign responsibility for questions; discuss resourcesResearch questions; summarize; analyze findingsReconvene, report on research;Integrate new Information;Refine questionsResolution of Problem;(How did we do?)PBL: The ProcessNext stage of the problem

  • OverviewProblem, Project, or AssignmentGroup DiscussionResearchGroup DiscussionPreparation of Group ProductWhole Class DiscussionMini-lecture(as needed)Assessment(when desired)The Problem-Based Learning Cycle

  • Medical School ModelA good choice for:Highly motivated, experienced learnersSmall, upper-level seminar classesDedicated faculty tutorGroups of 8-10Very student-centered environmentGroup discussion is primary class activity

  • Typical Medical School PBL Problem: High Degree of AuthenticityPatient arrives at hospital, ER, physicians office presenting with symptoms X, Y, ZWhat questions should you ask?What tests should you order?Physician interviews patient, receives results of testsDifferential diagnosisPreferred therapy

  • A Typical Day in an Undergraduate PBL Course

  • Question for GroupsReflect on this mornings experience:

    What do instructors do to guide studentsworking on a PBL problem?

    Be prepared to report out in 5-10 min.

  • What Might Be Different in an Undergraduate ContextClass sizeIntellectual maturity of studentsStudent motivationCourse learning objectivesOther instructors or departmental preferencesOther courses to teachVaried student career objectivesBasic (versus applied) context

  • PBL Models for Undergraduate CoursesMedical School ModelSmall class, one instructor to 8-10 studentsFloating Facilitator ModelSmall to medium class, one instructor, up to ~75 studentsPeer Facilitator ModelSmall to large class, one instructor and several peer facilitatorsLarge Class ModelsFloating facilitator and hybrid PBL/other activities

  • Hybrid PBLNon-exclusive use of problem-driven learning in a classMay include separate lecture segments or other active-learning componentsFloating or peer facilitator models common

    Often used as entry point into PBL in course transformation process

  • Strategies Used to Teach This ProblemMini lecture to introduce problemInstructor provided input at regular intervalsMechanism for groups to compare notesInstructor circulated amongst the groupsInstructor provided some resourcesProblem constructed to allow for 1-5Problem constructed to provide learner prompts for PBL novices

  • UD PBL OnlinePBL at UD - PBL materials, including syllabuses; links to other sites

    PBL Clearinghouse - of peer-reviewed PBL problems

    The Present - example of a media-based PBL problem, Jill

    ITUE on PBL and integration of technology, communication skills

  • Institute for TransformingUndergraduate EducationJune 15-17, 2005 Problem-Based Learning: From Ideas to Solutions through Communication. University of Delaware

    July 2006 PBL2006, an international conference Lima, Per

  • Reflections and Questions

  • Effectiveness of PBL: ResearchAmple evidence for the value of active and cooperative learning (Johnson, Johnson and Smith, 1991)Strict comparisons of PBL and traditional approaches difficult to design (Prideaux, 2000):Randomization, blinding difficultMany uncontrollable variables: variants in PBL, resources, motivationAppropriate outcome measures: content knowledge vs. process skillsMost research studies from medical education

  • General Trends from ResearchContent knowledge comparable to that found in traditional courses (Newman, 2003)

    PBL leads to:Improvement in student attitude and clinical performance (Vernon and Blake, 1993)Deeper approach to learning (Newble and Clarke, 1986)Better interpersonal skills and attitudes towards patients (Nandi et al., 2000)