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Problem-based learning at Franklin College Brack W. Hale Sara Steinert-Borella Caroline Wiedmer.

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Presentation on theme: "Problem-based learning at Franklin College Brack W. Hale Sara Steinert-Borella Caroline Wiedmer."— Presentation transcript:

1 Problem-based learning at Franklin College Brack W. Hale Sara Steinert-Borella Caroline Wiedmer

2 Problem-based learning (PBL) overview  Experience in the sciences  Background on PBL  PBL and Franklin’s new first-year program  PBL and Franklin’s core reform  PBL and Academic Integrity

3 Hazen (2002) discusses the reality of scientific literacy in American society. His research has found statistics like “ and has led him to the conclusion: Hazen (2002) discusses the reality of scientific literacy in American society. His research has found statistics like “fewer than ten percent of [Harvard] graduating seniors could explain why it's hotter in summer than in winter” and has led him to the conclusion: Most colleges and universities have the same dirty little secret: we are all turning out scientifically illiterate students who are incapable of understanding many of the important newspaper items published on the very day of their graduation. Greenwald (2000) suggests asking the IPF questions:  Why is this Interesting?  What is Puzzling?  What do we need to Find out?

4 Overview: PBL in the sciences  Teaching in the sciences  Traditional vs. Active Teaching  Problem-based learning (PBL)  My experience with PBL

5 Scientific literacy  Ability to understand and think about scientific issues critically  Not necessarily facts, but also methods  Using science, not doing science (Hazen 2002)  Why?  Global Climate Change  Loss of “biodiversity”  Use of genetically-modified organisms (GMO’s) Source:

6 Science Learning  What kind of classes were your undergraduate science courses?  Traditionally, lecture-format and “cookie-cutter” labs  Relies on passive learning  Focuses on learning “facts”  Not much thinking involved  Disadvantages  Low attention span,  Little context for knowledge Source:

7 Active learning  Engage students in material  Requires student thinking  Types:  Simple lecture techniques  Collaborative learning  Problem-based learning

8 Problem-based learning  Began in medical education in U.S.  Three features (Greenwald 2000)  Learning initiated with “problem”  Uses ill-structured problem  Instructor as metacognitive coach  Students responsible for own learning  Typically work in groups  Responsible to report learning

9 Steps in PBL 1. Encounter problem 2. Ask IPF questions 3. Prioritize and plan research 4. Investigate problem 5. Reiterate learning 6. Develop solutions, recommendations 7. Communicate results 8. Assessment (self, peer, group) Sources: Barrows 1986; Greenwald 2000; Barrett 2005

10 Ill-structured example An environmental monitoring team working with National Cane Toad Taskforce plans to release millions of non-native lavender bugs over the next two summers to try to control the spread of the cane toad into Western Australia. The cane toad was introduced into Australia in the 1930’s to control insect pests on sugar cane crop. Although the pest control effort failed miserably, the toad populations spread like wildfire, first through the Northern Territories and Queensland, and now threatens Western Australia. For an amphibian, it has a broad environmental tolerance (including eutrophic waters and certain herbicides), eats most anything, reproduces prolifically, and produces a toxin throughout its life-cycle that kills most predators that try to eat it. The toxin also affects any organism that comes into contact with it, including humans and pets. Native frog species avoid the lavender beetle, as it is poisonous. Cane toads however eat them and consequently die. Laboratory and field studies indicate that cane toad populations can be significantly reduced and possibly even eradicated through this method. If the lavender beetle fails, the cane toad will continue to devastate the unique biodiversity of Australia as it spreads across the continent, endangering crocodiles, dingos, and many snake species. Is the introduction of the lavender beetle into Western Australia a reasonable and promising plan to control the cane toad? Adapted from Batzli et al. 2005 Photo source:

11 Using the ill-structured problem   The phrase “invasive species” is commonly in the news. How do we know that the cane toad is invasive?   What is the basis of the toad’s threat to Australia’s freshwater ecosystems?   What are the risks and benefits of releasing lavender beetles?   Are there other alternatives? Are they reasonable? good?   On what basis should the research team make its decision about the effectiveness of this biological control agent?   What information do you need and what basic assumptions would you need to make to estimate the impact of releasing the beetle into Western Australia?

12 Drawbacks of PBL  New style of learning  Students accustomed to “spoon feeding”  Need for disciplinary knowledge (e.g. for graduate school entrance exams)  Traditional style better for short-term factual knowledge  PBL students show better long-term retention and better self-sufficiency in their study skills  Quality of “coaching” important  Development of good problems Sources: Barrett 2005, personal experience

13 My experience with PBL  Grad school (UW-Madison)  Post-doc (Duke University)  Faculty (Franklin)

14 Grad School Training  UW Biocore Program  Extended honors sequence in biology  Program focused on innovative and active teaching  Emphasis on training teaching assistants  Thanks to Janet Batzli, Janet Branchaw, and Michelle Harris!  BIOC 324: Organismal Biology Lab  Students developed novel experiments for each “unit”  Defined problems themselves  Teachers role to facilitate, model, problem- solve, consult Source: B. Hale

15 Post-Doc Training  Core course for environmental sciences and policy major  Focused on modules (case-studies)  Pseudo PBL  First-year seminar on river conservation  Students actively lead and teach  Active introduction to research and libraries Source: B. Hale

16 Franklin and PBL  First year of teaching  Introduced PBL-based activities in biology, environmental sciences, and freshwater courses  Assessment needed  Outcome appears successful  Cane toad example:  Students enjoyed activity  Demonstrated good understanding of invasive species issues  Upcoming  First-year seminar on climate change  New core???  New environmental studies major

17 Problem-Based Learning and First Year Experience Sara Steinert Borella

18 Why First Year Experience?   Desire to improve student’s experience in first year   Foundation for core and curriculum reform   Introduce problem and experiential-based learning across the disciplines

19 Introducing Crossing Borders, an Integrated First Year Experience  New student orientation  First Year seminars  Co-curricular activities  Residential life programming  Academic Advising  Academic support services (Library, IT Services and Writing Center)  Mentoring role for upper-division and honors students

20 Why Crossing Borders? The components woven together to provide a unified experience that introduces students to—and helps create—a challenging and purposeful multi-cultural and international academic learning environment.

21 Program Goals  Provide a first-year experience that meets students expectations for a multicultural, international learning experience  Engage students in a systematic learning program which connects the first year seminar with other aspects of their first year experience  Facilitate student academic success and increase student learning in the first-year  Provide students with meaningful opportunities to create and maintain relationships with members of the FC community

22 Program Goals (cont.)  Create a safe and supportive multicultural learning environment for first-year students in which they can make discoveries regarding personal values, identity and international attitudes.  Improve student retention in and after the first-year.  Assist students in becoming familiar and comfortable with the networks of support across campus.  Introduce students to local, regional and national resources.

23 Academic Support Service Students become acquainted with learning resources through integrated, embedded assignments:  Library  Information Technology  Writing Center  Tutoring

24 Examples of First-Year Seminars: Fall 2007  Brack Hale: Where have all the glaciers gone? Climate Change and the Alps  Caroline Wiedmer: On the Road: Portrayal of Travel on Screen  Sara Steinert Borella: On the Road, Too: Women Travel Writers in the 20th and 21st Centuries

25 On the Road, Too: Women Travel Writers in the 20th and 21st Centuries  Embedded assignments  Library: biographies, bibliographies, and finding sources  Writing Center  IT: using IQ Web

26 Climate change seminar  Course to be centered around “problems”  Initiate learning in climatology, climate history, interactions between climate and ecology, biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, energy, economics  Based on current “controversies”  Use of academic mentor as coach #2  Embedded assignments to engage:  Use of library  Use of Writing Center  Use of IT staff

27 Importance of First Year  Lays groundwork for core reform  Students ready for PBL  Makes PBL and associated skills part of campus culture  Improves students satisfaction and performance

28 Core Matters Problem-Based Learning as an Approach to Core Reform Caroline Wiedmer Franklin College Switzerland

29 Current Core at Franklin  SEM 100 Contemporary Issues and the Classics  ENG 100 Writing in the Humanities  HIS 100 and HIS 101 Western Civilization, I and II or HIS 104 and HIS 105 World History, I and II  FRE/GER/ITA/SPA through 301 level (6 semesters)  Computer course  Three courses in Math/Science (must have one of each)  Social Science Course  Art History or Studio Art or Music course Based heavily upon knowledge acquisition from traditional disciplines

30 Basic questions  What do we mean when we refer to knowledge?  How does knowledge tie in with subject position?  How can we harness the subject position of students, professors and the place of learning?

31 Shifts in concepts of knowledge  The influence of post-modernist and post-structuralist debates, coupled with feminist and postcolonial epistemologies have shaken the notion of objectivity in the scientific processes, and knowledge is no longer seen exclusively in cognitive terms, but also in terms of aesthetic and moral judgment, leading to a legitimization of aesthetic and interpretive and ethical categories of knowing. (Habermas, 1985, Putnam, 1987, Lenk, 1986, Weil, 2003).  Knowledge not as fact-oriented as it used to be

32 Subject position  Understanding knowledge as inherently bound up with subject position has had profound implications for the importance of understanding the “culturality of knowledge; “of understanding that learning is bound up not only with the places and cultures from which students and professors hail--because they are indicators of normative dispositions--but also with the place in which knowledge is produced (Stephen Greenblatt, 1994).  Your background and location influence “knowledge”

33 Place and the importance of learning  Indeed the cultural dispositions of the teacher and the student are, to paraphrase Hans Weiler, constitutive elements in the processes of knowledge creation that have a decisive impact on the way problems are perceived and taught.  Cultural location poses both a great challenge, and a great opportunity for international, overseas colleges like Franklin.

34 Basic Questions (2)  How do we, as teachers and scholars, take the fullest advantage of the multifaceted perspectives and experiences offered by our diverse student-body?  How do we prepare students to operate in a world in which they will be required to recognize, analyze and find solutions to multifaceted, often ill-defined problems?

35 Problem-based learning?  Problems on the local and the global level present themselves not in neatly prepackaged categories, sorted according to discipline, but rather as murky, ill-defined and ever-shifting complexes that manifest on a number of personal, societal and global levels.

36 Why problem-based learning?   Learning and teaching, which is based not on disciplinary learning but is problem or topic-based allows for a contemplation of attitudes and presuppositions based on personal experience, and cultural positionality of students and professors.   Understanding how problems are constituted differently in different places, and are solved differently in different places gives insight into transcultural processes.

37 New Core Strategy   across disciplines, enabling students to deploy methods and theories from a number of disciplines apply them to the topic at hand;   across cultures, enabling students to understand how their particular subject position—their normative training, their presuppositions about the world, and the context within which a problem presents itself interacts with their solutions to the problem.

38 Potential new model   Model consists of interdisciplinary, team-taught and problem-based learning communities   Communities integrate travel, language, skills and interdisciplinary learning   Communities focus problem/theme with real-world relevance.   Topics take advantage of FC’s international character   Diversity of student and faculty   Setting   Travel program as live laboratory   Model emphasizes collaborative learning in and outside of the traditional class room.

39 Learning Communities These topics to be organized under five or six different problems/themes, such as   Globalization   Wealth and Poverty   The Aesthetic World   Past, Present and Future   The Environment   Technology and Society NB: Topics reassessed/updated periodically

40 Sample Configuration Globalization and its Effects CLCS 330 Politics of Movement: Exile and Immigration SCI 220 Perspectives on Freshwater Conservation ECO 341 International Economics HIS 372 Histories of Globalization LIT 105 World Literature

41 Other aspects  Core should also integrate skill acquisition:  Writing  IT competency  Research  Quantitative  Current thinking is to embed in courses (~ first year seminar)

42 PBL and Academic Integrity

43 Academic Integrity  What is academic integrity?  Class attendance  Class participation  Work appropriately on projects  Contributing to group effort  Following research protocols  Appropriately citing sources  Performance on exams and other evaluations  i.e. no cheating

44 PBL and Integrity  Class time  Attendance important  Participation inevitable  Community responsibility  Group work  Group assessments  Responsibility  Presentations  Exams  But…no easy answers

45 Take home messages  PBL provides real world experience and skills  Alternative model to classic education  Franklin’s new core  PBL restructures learning environment  Develops learning communities  Probably improves integrity  PBL requires better collaboration across faculty and other learning staff (i.e. library, IT, academic skills)  Faculty don’t have to be “ruggedly independent”  Time is key resource

46 Thanks to: Thanks to: Susan Perry The Mellon Foundation AMICALAUI

47 Questions? Partial References Barrett, T. 2005. What is problem-based learning? IN: Emerging Issues in the Practice of University Learning and Teaching. O’Neill, G., Moore, S., McMullin, B. (Eds). Dublin: AISHE. Barrows, H. 1986. A taxonomy of problem-based learning methods. Medical Education, 20: 481-486. Batzli, J., Ebert-May, D., Hodder, J. 2005. Bridging the pathway from instruction to research. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 4:105-107. Greenwald, N. 2000. Learning from problems. The Science Teacher, 67:28-32. Hazen, R. 2002. Why should you be scientifically literate?

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