Have you ever asked yourself these questions? How do I get more of my students to think? Why do some of my students seem to lack the ability to go beyond factual knowledge to a deeper understanding of material? Why do some students have difficulty connecting basics to related applications?
|by Hal Portner
Regular contributor to the Gazette
May 1, 2008
As I discussed in two prior Teachers Net Gazette issues, Problem-Based Learning (PBL) prepares students to think critically and analytically and to find and use appropriate learning resources. PBL is an instructional method that motivates and challenges students not only to think, but to learn to learn while working cooperatively in groups in order to seek solutions to real world problems. PBL problems are designed to engage students’ curiosity and stimulate learning.
My two previous articles introduced and defined PBL, described the PBL process, outlined the teacher’s role in its implementation, and discussed and provided examples of effective PBL problems. This third and final article on PBL suggests ways to organize and structure a class so as to get the most out of PBL.
The personal organization of the teacher and the organization of the classroom during a PBL class are paramount to its success. Here are some ways to accomplish both.
If students are not used to working together in problem-solving groups (a common business practice, by the way), or even if they are, the following suggestions will provide a sense of order to what might seem to some an unstructured process.
PBL involves group work. How will you grade students who work in groups? Here are some suggestions.
Some Value Added Benefits of PBL
Through involvement with PBL, learning becomes an interactive endeavor for students, and therefore more engaging. Your class is one of actively engaged creators-of-ideas-and-solutions rather than docile, passive recipients-of-knowledge.
And you, the teacher, will also be kept on your toes – and therefore open to fine tuning your own practice. There will always be new problems to research and write, and old problems to refine.
My two earlier articles on Problem Based Learning and a helpful video:
Intro to Problem Based Learning http://teachers.net/gazette/MAR08/portner/
PBL - Good Problems http://teachers.net/gazette/APR08/portner/
Video: Writing a Good Problem teachers.net/gazette/APR08/video/#prob
Note: Some material for this series of articles is adapted, with permission, from the essay “But I Teach a Large Class . . .” by Linda Dion, appearing in issue number 50 of About Teaching, a newsletter of the Center for Teaching Effectiveness, University of Delaware.