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Monday, November 30, 2015

Problem-Based Learning: Six Steps to Design, Implement, and Assess by Vincent R. Genareo, PhD, and Renee Lyons

Photo: Vincent Genareo
Vincent R. Genareo, postdoctoral research associate at Iowa State University, Research Institute for Studies of Education (RISE) and Renee Lyons, PhD candidate at Clemson University, Department of Education writes, "Twenty-first century skills necessitate the implementation of instruction that allows students to apply course content, take ownership of their learning, use technology meaningfully, and collaborate. Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is one pedagogical approach that might fit in your teaching toolbox." 
Photo: Faculty Focus

PBL is a student-centered, inquiry-based instructional model in which learners engage with an authentic, ill-structured problem that requires further research (Jonassen & Hung, 2008). Students identify gaps in their knowledge, conduct research, and apply their learning to develop solutions and present their findings (Barrows, 1996). Through collaboration and inquiry, students can cultivate problem solving (Norman & Schmidt, 1992), metacognitive skills (Gijbels et al., 2005), engagement in learning (Dochy et al., 2003), and intrinsic motivation. Despite PBL’s potential benefits, many instructors lack the confidence or knowledge to utilize it (Ertmer & Simons, 2006; Onyon, 2005). By breaking down the PBL cycle into six steps, you can begin to design, implement, and assess PBL in your own courses.

Step One: Identify Outcomes/Assessments  
PBL fits best with process-oriented course outcomes such as collaboration, research, and problem solving. It can help students acquire content or conceptual knowledge, or develop disciplinary habits such as writing or communication. After determining whether your course has learning outcomes that fit with PBL, you will develop formative and summative assessments to measure student learning. Group contracts, self/peer-evaluation forms, learning reflections, writing samples, and rubrics are potential PBL assessments.
Step Two: Design the Scenario  
Next you design the PBL scenario with an embedded problem that will emerge through student brainstorming. Think of a real, complex issue related to your course content. It’s seldom difficult to identify lots of problems in our fields; the key is writing a scenario for our students that will elicit the types of thinking, discussion, research, and learning that need to take place to meet the learning outcomes. Scenarios should be motivating, interesting, and generate good discussion. Check out the websites below for examples of PBL problems and scenarios. 

Source: Faculty Focus

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