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Problem Based Learning An Overview

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					   Problem-Based Learning:An
           Overview
                John Savery
           The University of Akron



11/07/06       John Savery-University of Akron   1
              Context…
1983 - undergraduate course on History
 of Education in Western Canada
Professor told the history of the people
 who lived through the times using their
 diaries and journals.
Major assignment for the class was to
 go into the archives of the museum and
 research a history and tell their story.

11/07/06     John Savery-University of Akron   2
    Learning should be engaging…
Since then I have looked for
 instructional methods that work as well
 as that activity did for me.
Simulations and games are a good
 strategy.
Inquiry based, problem based and other
 experiential learning approaches are
 also very effective.

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 Problem-Based Learning is…
an instructional (and curricular) learner-
 centered approach that empowers
 learners to conduct research, integrate
 theory and practice, and apply
 knowledge and skills to develop a viable
 solution to a defined problem.



11/07/06      John Savery-University of Akron   4
Critical to the success of the PBL
 approach is the selection of ill-
 structured problems (often
 interdisciplinary) and a tutor who guides
 the learning process and conducts a
 thorough debriefing at the conclusion of
 the learning experience.


11/07/06      John Savery-University of Akron   5
           Characteristics
1. Students must have the responsibility
   for their own learning.
2. The problem situations used must be
   ill-structured and allow for free inquiry.
3. Learning should be integrated from a
   wide range of disciplines or subjects.
4. Collaboration is essential.

11/07/06       John Savery-University of Akron   6
           Characteristics
4. Outcomes of self-directed learning
   must be applied back to the problem
   with reanalysis and resolution.
5. Reflection and debriefing on what has
   been learned is essential.
6. Self and peer assessment is required
   at the completion of each problem and
   curricular unit.

11/07/06     John Savery-University of Akron   7
           Characteristics
8. The activities carried out in problem-
    based learning must be those valued
    in the real world.
9. Examinations must measure student
    progress towards the goals of
    problem-based learning.
10. Problem-based learning must be the
    pedagogical base of the curriculum.

11/07/06      John Savery-University of Akron   8
         Students must be
  responsible for their own learning
 PBL is a learner-centered approach – students
  engage with the problem with whatever their
  current knowledge or experience affords.
 Learner motivation increases when responsibility
  for the solution to the problem and the process
  rests with the learner and as student ownership
  for learning increases



 11/07/06        John Savery-University of Akron   9
           …responsible for their own
                  learning
Inherent in the design of PBL is a public
 articulation by the learners of what they know
 and about what they need to learn more.
Individuals accept responsibility for seeking
 relevant information and bringing that back to
 the group to help inform the development of a
 viable solution.



11/07/06          John Savery-University of Akron   10
Problems must be ill-structured and
       allow for free inquiry
Problems in the real world are ill-structured
 (or they would not be problems). A critical skill
 developed through PBL is the ability to
 identify the problem and set parameters on
 the development of a solution.
Learners are less motivated and less
 invested in the development of the solution to
 a well-structured problem.


11/07/06        John Savery-University of Akron   11
Learning should be integrated from a
      wide range of disciplines
  Students should be able to access,
   study and integrate information from all
   the disciplines that might be related to
   understanding and resolving a particular
   problem -- just as people in the real
   world must recall and apply information
   integrated from diverse sources in their
   work.
  11/07/06     John Savery-University of Akron   12
           …wide range of disciplines

The rapid expansion of information has
 encouraged a cross-fertilization of ideas
 and led to the development of new
 disciplines.
Multiple perspectives lead to a more
 thorough understanding of the issues
 and the development of a more robust
 solution.
11/07/06          John Savery-University of Akron   13
           Collaboration is essential
In the world after school most learners will
 find themselves in jobs where they need to
 share information and work productively with
 others. PBL provides a format for the
 development of these essential skills.
During a PBL session the tutor will ask
 questions of any and all members to ensure
 that information has been shared between
 members in relation to the group’s problem.

11/07/06          John Savery-University of Akron   14
      Apply outcomes of self-directed
       learning to the problem with
         reanalysis and resolution
 The point of self-directed research is for
  individuals to collect information that will
  inform the group’s decision-making process
  in relation to the problem.
 It is essential that each individual share
  coherently what he or she have learned and
  how that information might impact on
  developing a solution to the problem.

11/07/06       John Savery-University of Akron   15
  Reflection and debriefing on what
   has been learned is essential
PBL is a very engaging, motivating and
 involving form of experiential learning,
 learners are often very close to the immediate
 details of the problem and the proposed
 solution.
The purpose of the post-experience
 debriefing process (see Steinwachs, 1992;
 Thiagarajan, 1993 for details on debriefing) is
 to consolidate the learning and ensure that
 the experience has been reflected upon.

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           Reflect and debrief
Barrows (1988) advises that learners
 examine all facets of the PBL process to
 better understand
     what they know
     what they learned
     how they performed.



11/07/06        John Savery-University of Akron   17
 Self and peer assessment at the
  completion problems and units
These assessment activities are related
 to the reflection on knowledge gains.
The significance of this activity is to
 reinforce the self-reflective nature of
 learning and sharpen a range of
 metacognitive processing skills.


11/07/06     John Savery-University of Akron   18
Activities carried out in PBL must be
   those valued in the real world
The selection of authentic problems in PBL is
 discussed extensively in Savery & Duffy
 (1995), Stinson and Milter (1996), Wilkerson
 and Gijselaers (1996), and Macdonald (1997).
The transfer of skills learned through PBL to a
 real world context is also noted by Bransford,
 Brown, & Cocking (2000, p. 77).


11/07/06       John Savery-University of Akron   19
       Exams must measure student
        progress toward PBL goals
The goals of PBL are both knowledge-based
 and process-based. Students need to be
 assessed on both dimensions at regular
 intervals to ensure that they are benefiting as
 intended from the PBL approach.
Students are responsible for the content in
 the curriculum that they have ‘covered’
 through engagement with problems. They
 need to be able to recognize and articulate
 what they know and what they have learned.
11/07/06        John Savery-University of Akron   20
           Use PBL as the pedagogical
             base of the curriculum
A half-hearted approach to PBL is unlikely to
 succeed. A partial approach will inevitably fall
 back into didactic teacher-centered
 instruction as students learn that they can
 out-wait the teacher and the answers will be
 provided.
Teachers considering PBL must understand
 what to expect and be prepared to stay with it
 until students are weaned from their teacher
 dependency.
11/07/06         John Savery-University of Akron   21
            Questions?
Covered a lot of elements so far and
 there are some others to discuss.

When questions are finished let’s work
 on a problem…




11/07/06     John Savery-University of Akron   22
           PBL and Storytelling
PBL is a strategy that uses specific
 tactics to achieve the intended learning
 outcomes.
Stories are used to ‘set the problem’ for
 the learners.
The characteristics of a good story
 compliment the setting of the problem.

11/07/06        John Savery-University of Akron   23
           Some story characteristics

Control of time and place.
Control of characters in the story.
Control of information.
Control of events.




11/07/06          John Savery-University of Akron   24
    Some PBL ‘problem’ elements
Initial parameters of problem provided
 in a story format
    Medical symptoms described
    General elements of situation described
    Characters/players/roles introduced
    Often elements of time and place (changes
     noted over time, symptoms related to
     change of place)

11/07/06        John Savery-University of Akron   25
           PBL as curriculum
Learners encounter ‘problems’ that are
 authentic in the discipline.
The selection of problems is deliberate.
The problems selected are designed to
 integrate knowledge and practice.
The debriefing is used to consolidate
 the learning.


11/07/06      John Savery-University of Akron   26
           Problems as Stories
Motivation is an important element in
 learning.
Dramatic stories can help motivate the
 learners.
Example: asteroid problem, loss of
 habitat and extinction of a species,
 flooding prevention and the list goes
 on…

11/07/06       John Savery-University of Akron   27
                Wrap-up

PBL as an instructional strategy
 empowers learners to develop viable
 solutions to ill-structured problems.
Ill-structured problems may be
 presented effectively through stories.
Learners will develop their own story as
 the develop a problem solution.

11/07/06     John Savery-University of Akron   28

				
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