An Introduction to Problem-based Learning _PBL_

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					Project and Problem Based Learning
     Always think outside the box
                      Toxic Popcorn


A can of highly toxic popcorn has contaminated an area of
approximately 4 feet in diameter. The toxic area extends
to the ceiling. If the toxic popcorn is not transferred to a
     safe container for decontamination, then it will
 contaminate and destroy the local area. The popcorn is
estimated to have a safe life of exactly 20 minutes before
       it explodes. It’s up to you to save the day!
           PBL Framework


                Pedagogy                Assessment

          Resources , Constraints and
What does the research say about PBL?

Envision Schools founder Bob Lenz writes in this
 blog post. But a new report finds that 12th-grade
     students who were taught a project-based
 economics curriculum outscored a control group
   on standardized tests, and their teachers were
 reportedly more satisfied with the material, Lenz
    notes. Lenz's blog (9/30)
What does the research say about PBL?

The study by Jo Boaler, at Stanford University, found
   that students at a project-based school did better
  than those at the more traditional school both on
  math problems requiring analytical or conceptual
 thought and on those considered rote, that is, those
        requiring memory of a rule or formula.

 Three times as many students at the project-based
   school received the top grade achievable on the
            national examination in math.
                    Lecture…Sit and


Average Retention


                            Why PBL?

Think critically and be able to analyze and solve complex, real­world

Find, evaluate, and use appropriate learning resources

Work individually and cooperatively in teams and small groups

Demonstrate versatile and effective communication skills, both verbal
and written

Use content knowledge and develop skills to become life­long learners in
order to succeed in a global economy
                   Why PBL

 The 21st century student will need to be able to
adapt to the ever changing world and concentrate
   on process in order to be successful in the
 workplace. They will need to communicate well,
 work in teams, think critically, be innovative and
     creative and be able to solve problems.
                            Why PBL

• retain student interest…keep it relevant
• focus on a problem solving, critical thinking and a systems thinking
• student centered and teacher facilitated.
• integrate technology and 21st Century skills.
Partnership for 21st Century Learning
The standard includes six strands, which reflect the
Framework for 21st Century Learning:
21st Century Skills                                    21st Century Themes

• Critical Thinking and Problem Solving                 Global Awareness
                                                       Financial, Economic,
• Creativity and Innovation                               Business, and
• Collaboration, Teamwork, and Leadership                    Literacy,
                                                           Civic Literacy
• Cross-Cultural Understanding and Interpersonal          Health Literacy

• Communication and Media Fluency

• Accountability, Productivity, and Ethics

Understanding by Design UbD template (lesson plan development)
Creatively Speaking, Part Two: Sir Ken Robinson on the
            Power of the Imaginative Mind
   Engage the student and the achievement
                  will follow

85% of Middle and High School Students report being bored in
                     their classrooms
         PBL for Teachers
 Project and Problem Based Leaning is high on the list
    for addressing skill development and engaging
students. But before we can move forward, you need to
       take a look at your understanding of PBL.

So... using the combined knowledge and resources of
       this group create a group presentation on

           You have one hour to complete.

   Your presentation can be in any style or format.
     Consider the following for your presentation:

                     Why do PBL?
          What are the Pros and Cons of PBL?
         What are the Characteristics of PBL?
What are the Differences and Similarities of Project and
               Problem Based Learning?
                How is PBL Assessed?
What are the Student and Teacher roles when doing PBL
   How is Technology being used to support PBL?
        What does the research say about PBL?
         Project Based Learning?

Is a teaching and learning model that focuses on the
   central concepts and principles of a discipline,
   involves students in problem solving and other
      meaningful tasks, allows students to work
 autonomously and in groups to construct their own
 learning, culminates in realistic, student generated

           Buck Institute for Education
    What is Problem Based Learning?

Problem­based learning enables students to embrace
  complexity, find relevance in their learning, and
 enhance their capacity for creative and responsible
           real­world problem­solving.
          Problem-Based Learning Defined:

 Finkle and Torp (1995) state that "problem-based learning is a
      curriculum development and instructional system that
  simultaneously develops both problem solving strategies and
disciplinary knowledge bases and skills by placing students in the
 active role of problem solvers confronted with an ill-structured
             problem that mirrors real-world problems"
       Specific tasks in a problem-based learning
                  environment include:

• determining whether a problem exists;

• creating an exact statement of the problem;

• identifying information needed to understand the problem;

• identifying resources to be used to gather information;

• generating possible solutions;

• analyzing the solutions; and presenting the solution, orally
  and/or in writing.

   Learning as an active process in which
  learners construct new ideas or concepts
based upon their current or past knowledge.
 Students continually build upon what they
            have already learned.
 PBL consists of two complementary interrelated processes
              consistent with constructivism

Curriculum Design, Teachers will…
n design an ill­structured problem based on desired curriculum

  outcomes, learner characteristics, and compelling, problematic
  real­world situations.
n  identify gaps in the curriculum that will identify skills needed,
  content area and strategies that are not working
n  target objectives… begin with the end in mind
n  focus on standards
             PBL consists of two complementary
                   interrelated processes
Cognitive Coaching
n Students actively define problems and construct potential

n Teachers model, coach, and fade in student support

n Teachers give students time to think

n Teachers guide them to, not give them the resources needed to

  solve problems
                  Characteristics of PBL
Ø Learning is student centered.
Ø Real­world context. Making connections between what students
    are learning and their own lives.
Ø   Development of critical thinking skills
Ø   Time to analyze and solve problems
Ø   Student autonomy and choice.
Ø   Decisions are student initiated and self­directed.
Ø   Group collaboration and teamwork, developing social and
    communication skills.
           Characteristics of PBL

• Collaboration with external sources for advice.

• Not limited to the four walls of the classroom or the teacher as the
  primary source for information.

• Encourages mastery of technological tools.

• Prepares students for the work force by building problem solving
  skills. (Teaches them to think for themselves)

• Role changes for the teacher and student­­Teacher as facilitator, not
  the expert on the topic
                  Characteristics of PBL

Ø Ongoing evaluation, not a single evaluation element

Ø Teacher adapts and adjusts to change

Ø Teacher as scenario writer

Ø Inquiry questioning by the teacher and student

Ø Supportive and non­competitive climate for students
                    Characteristics of PBL

Ø Interdisciplinary oriented. demonstrates connections between classes

Ø The focus is on the process more so than the solution

Ø Multiple outcomes instead of a single answer, or right or wrong
    Problem­based learning has as its organizing
      center an ill­structured problem which...
n   is messy and complex in nature
n   requires inquiry, information­gathering, and reflection
n   is changing and tentative
n   has no simple, fixed, formulaic, "right" solution
n   appeals to human desire for resolution/ equilibrium/harmony
            Product or Process?

     Ms, McIntyre introduced a “project” to her
 students. She plopped a packet of papers on each
  student’s desk and explained that each student
would create a poster about water-borne bacterium
 and how it can be harmful to humans. The packet
  assignment sheets with due dates and grading
policy, a guide for designing the poster, and a list
           of websites and books to use.
                   PBL is not…

Giving students a project, that is hands­on, with step
   by step instructions, designed and guided by the
  teacher that results in a student produced product.
  This process is missing student voice and choice,
         and may not be authentic or relevant
          Redesign this Project
   Ms, McIntyre introduced a “project” to her
 students. She plopped a packet of papers on each
   student’s desk and explained that each student
      would create a poster about water­borne
 bacterium and how it can be harmful to humans.
 The packet included assignment sheets with due
  dates and grading policy, a guide for designing
the poster, and a list of websites and books to use.
How does PBL work?
Ø   Students confront a messy or ill­structured problem.
Ø   In groups, students organize prior knowledge and attempt
    to identify the nature of the problem.
Ø   Students pose questions about what they do not
Ø   Students design a plan to solve the problem and identify
    the resources they need.
Ø   Students begin to gather information as they work to solve
    the problem.
             Examples of PBL Scenarios

You are a scientist at the state department of nuclear
safety. Some people in a small community feel their
 health is at risk because a company keeps thorium
   piled above ground at one of their plants. What
           action, if any, should be taken?
You are a consultant to the Department of Fish and
Wildlife. A first draft of a plan for the reintroduction
  of wolves to Yellowstone has received strong,
negative testimony at hearings. What is your advice
                  regarding the plan?
You are a science advisor at NASA. A planet much like the earth has
experienced massive destruction of elements of its biosphere. What is
 causing the destruction of plant life? Can new plants from earth be
   successfully introduced to help save the planet's environment?
        As a representative of Acme Travel in NJ,
  you have just received an email from National
Travel Magazine. One of their reporters is coming
 into the state next month and wants to visit three
of the “best” state parks in NJ. They will only be
in the state for three days. Develop a plan for the
   reporter to use once he arrives at AC airport.
    You are the curator for the Philadelphia
  Museum of Art. The National Treasure has
just been found! Your job is to design a room
   in the museum that will display all of the
 artifacts. The area of the room is 450 square
feet. What shape, length, and width should the
 room be? You need to present the floor plan
model to the owners (teacher and class) of the
museum by Friday. Your presentation can be
      in any format you would like to use.
 The producers of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”
  are creating a new series entitles “Extreme Makeover:
 School Edition.” Students from all over the country are
      being asked to submit ideas and designs for the
   improvement of their school foyers/entryway. Your
    team’s assignment is to design a new foyer for the
school using pattern block tiles that will create a visually
    pleasing entrance. The designers of the show will
        choose that best design and use it create the
                      school’s foyer.
 It is April 1, 2008 and you wake up feeling groggy from the
    night before. You did not sleep very well. You stagger
downstairs into the kitchen and get a bowl out of the cabinet.
    As you reach for the Fruit Loops you realize there is an
   empty box. So you go upstairs to ask your mother where
there is another box and find an empty bed. Your parents are
 nowhere in sight. However, on their bed there is a note that
  said, “Lauren and Matthew, Mom and Dad had to go on a
 TOP SECRET mission. No one can know we are gone. We
have left you $3,000.00 cash in the freezer to pay the monthly
  bills and take care of yourselves for the month. We will be
   back on May 1, 2008. Remember, you cannot tell anyone
and if you have any questions, you can only call us once and
 ask two questions. We love you very much and can’t wait to
 see you. Love, Mom and Dad” What are you going to do?

                       3 to 5th grade
You are a single working mother with a five year old
 daughter. Upon your husband's death, you receive
 $20,000 in worker's compensation and $10,000 in
stock option shares. How can you invest this money
    so that by your daughter's 18th birthday, its
               growth is maximized?
An educational company has asked for your
help to create an activity with the following
materials. 20 pieces of paper, 4 paper clips,
  10 inches of tape and a tennis ball. The
   activity must teach collaboration/team
building skills as well as math and science.
   Work in groups of 3 to 5. You have 20
     minutes to complete and present
             your group results.
            Example of Project Based Learning
 You have been given 20 pieces of paper, 4 paper clips
and 10 inches of tape. Your group is to build the highest
  paper tower possible that will support a tennis ball for
 10 seconds when placed on top. The structure is to be
  free standing and cannot touch any other object that
would aid in support. The tape is also not to be used to
attach the tower to any other object. One final objective
for your group is to make a science or math connection
  that’s related to this activity. You have 20 minutes to
 You are a stockholder of a major oil refinery
    in Louisiana which has mined oil from
wetlands in the southern part of the state. You
 have received pressure from publicity about
the wetlands to make it property of the federal
    government so that it can be protected.
              What will you do?
Develop, design, and demonstrate the feasibility
  of a self­contained, self­sustaining human
community in a place that is not yet considered
Paper or Plastic
PBL addresses student needs by taking learning theory into
  account with PBL and answers the student question:
                Who cares? Why do we need to know this?

  Ø Students take on an active role in their educational
  Ø Students are actively involved in the learning process, and
    they learn in the context in which knowledge is to be used.
  Ø Students are empowered with the responsibility of
    managing a largely self­directed learning process so that
    they are better equipped to take on the responsibilities of
    mature professional life.
  Ø Students are encouraged to develop the skill of transferring
    knowledge into new domains, a skill that students can
    carry with them throughout their lifetimes.
Teacher as coach…
Models/coaches/fades in support:
Ø Asking about thinking
Ø Monitoring learning
Ø Probing/ challenging students' thinking
Ø Keeping students involved
Ø Monitoring/ adjusting levels of challenge
Ø Managing group dynamics
Ø Keeping process moving
Student as active problem­solver
Ø Active participant
Ø Engaged
Ø Constructing meaning
                  An Example of a PBL Model
Ø Present the Problem, Scenario, or Situation
Ø Define problem statement
Ø List what is known
Ø List what is unknown, or needed to know
Ø List what is needed to be done: Action Plan, who will do what
Ø Gather and analyze information (Dynamic Governance)
Ø Continuous reflection and assessment
Ø Present Findings and solutions
Ø Reevaluate if necessary
Ø Expand on the PBL if time permits
What are the benefits of PBL?

Ø   Motivation: PBL encourages students to become more
    engaged in learning because they are hard wired to respond
    to challenge and because they feel they are empowered to
    have an impact on the outcome of the investigation.

Ø   Relevance And Context: PBL offers students an obvious
    answer to the questions, "Why do we need to learn this
    information?" and "What does what I am doing in school
    have to do with anything in the real world?"
What are the benefits of PBL?
Ø Motivation
Ø Relevance And Context
Ø Higher­Order Thinking: the ill­structured problem
  scenario calls forth critical and creative thinking by
  suspending the guessing game of, "What's the right answer
  the teacher wants me to find?"
What are the benefits of PBL?
Ø Motivation
Ø Relevance And Context
Ø Higher­Order Thinking
Ø Learning How To Learn: PBL promotes metacognition
  and self­regulated learning by asking students to generate
  their own strategies for problem definition, information
  gathering, data­analysis, and hypothesis­building and
  testing, comparing these strategies against and sharing
  them with other students' and mentors' strategies.
What are the benefits of PBL?
Ø   Motivation
Ø   Relevance And Context
Ø   Higher­Order Thinking
Ø   Learning How To Learn
Ø   Authenticity: PBL engages students in learning
    information in ways that are similar to the ways in which
    it will be recalled and employed in future situations and
    assesses learning in ways which demonstrate
    understanding and not mere acquisition. (Gick and
    Holyoak, 1983).
          Obstacles Described by Teachers
n   It takes a lot of preparation time
n   We don't have the resources
n   We lack administrative support and support from other teachers
n   You often feel uneasy because you're not knowledgeable about
    the content
n   The open­ended, no right or wrong answer aspect of project
    work can be threatening
                Obstacles Described by Teachers

n   Administrators can fault you for not covering the curriculum
n   There are risks associated with giving up teacher control
n   Students may not participate and are not always self­motivated
                Obstacles Described by Teachers

n   students may have difficulty with higher order thinking or open­
    ended problems

n   There is a risk that students might not learn much, or receive
    much of value from Problem Based Learning unless designed
           Benefits Described by Students

n   We got to choose what to work on.
n   We learned that we can make a difference
n   There was a clear goal that was a challenge to work on
n   There was an audience for the product and we knew we
    had to meet the deadline and present it to the audience.
           Benefits Described by Students

n   We weren't afraid to try things we didn't know because the
    teacher said we would have the opportunity to reevaluate and
    try again.
n   Everyone felt needed and had a part. Nobody got left out
n   We didn't need to use our texts, and we were actively doing
    things and learning something.
           Benefits Described by Students

n    We were using skills we knew we would need in our
    jobs, like using time wisely, exercis­ing responsibility, and
    not letting the group down.
n   We learned that when the real world is the source of
    evaluation, you had better have your act together.
n   Yes, enjoyed it, felt like I had more responsibility.
          Benefits Described by Students

n    I liked it, got a lot of ideas out, but did
    need some guidance some times.
n   Like the idea of going off on our own to
    research everything possible instead of
    being limited by teacher specification.
        Benefits Described by Students

n   Communicating with outside sources, and
    making contacts for information.
n   How to communicate and work with the
    corporate world, make contacts. How to
    write, how to work with other people in
n   How to be a leader.
      Similarities to PBL and What Employers Want

Willingness to share information and ideas
Ability to work with others (Team Mentality)
Responsiveness to change

Willingness to take calculated risks, without fear of consequences

Time Management Skills
Organization and Leadership Skills
    Similarities to PBL and What Employers Want

Reading, Writing, and be able to Communication well

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills

Systems Thinking

Working Independently (Study & Research)

Listening Skills
        Similarities to PBL and What Employers Want

Be Creative

Have a basic knowledge of Mathematics

Understand Money, and Economics

Computer and Technology Skills

Information Literacy (finding sources, evaluating, and using
and information effectively)

Life Skills

Health and Safety knowledge

Citizenship and Government
Using your classroom, the school or the local
 community as a context for learning, write
          your own PBL Scenario

         1. Background Information
            2. Student Relevance
                 3. Scenario


               - Both deal with a
              motivating prompt,
                  a question or
               problem, that has
                to be addressed
                  by creating a
              solution or product.

               - Each is a valid
                 strategy that
               promotes active
                 learning and
              engages students.
   John Henry

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