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Problem-Based Learning for Student Engagement

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1 Problem-Based Learning for Student Engagement
Problem-Based Learning for Student Engagement Leslie Russek, PT, DPT, PhD, OCS Associate Professor Physical Therapy Department Clarkson University Slides available electronically at:

2 Objectives Explain Problem-Based Learning (PBL) Contrast PBL with:
Identify benefits of PBL Critique PBL: challenges and limitations Engage in a sample PBL case Contrast PBL with: Project-based learning Process-oriented guided inquiry learning Peer-led team learning Brainstorm ways to apply in our courses Russek: PBL

3 History of PBL Initially used in medical education Current application
Massive amounts of rapidly changing information Need skills in: Life-long, self-directed learning Problem-solving Collaboration and communication Current application Professional, undergraduate, primary Hillen MDs could no longer learn everything. Currently: used in many medical schools, especially Canada, Britain Some undergraduate programs: Stanford, U.Delaware, Samford Much attention and support from NSF Russek: PBL

4 PBL Structure Groups of 4-10 students Tutor (faculty or professional)
Students may have assigned roles Facilitator, scribe, time-keeper Tutor (faculty or professional) Tutorials typically 2 hrs, 2-3x/week Access to resources: Meeting space Computers, library… Contrast with case-based learning, which uses cases/problems, but doesn’t have PBL structure for learning Russek: PBL

5 The PBL Problem A realistic “problem,” case, scenario Format:
Engaging and motivating Messy No simple or single answer Format: Paper scenario, experimental or lab data, photographs, video clips, newspaper articles, part of journal article, real or simulated patient. (Wood, 2003) Russek: PBL

6 Creating Problems Inherently interesting
Should motivate desired learning issues Cues should stimulate discussion Realistic to facilitate integration Sufficiently open-ended Promotes use of varied resources Appropriate to stage of learning (Wood, 2003 Interesting: students should WANT to learn about it. Information in the case should cue students to identify specific LI Open ended: requires students to thrash with it Drives students to search for varied resources Appropriate Russek: PBL

7 The Tutorial Process Independent research Receive problem information
Generate hypotheses & learning issues Independent research Discuss & critique information Reflect and assess; identify new learning issues Russek: PBL 7

8 Hypothesis Generation
Wanda is a 72 year old woman who had a total knee replacement 1 week ago. She is now able to walk only a few feet without a walker. Generate hypotheses as to why she is unable to walk normally Identify information you will need With partners, generate hypotheses and identify information you will need. Russek: PBL

9 Hypotheses: Why Wanda Can’t Walk
Bilateral arthritis Total knee replacement Muscles cut in surgery Weaker after surgery Pain in other knee Pain Weak before surgery This concept map shows some hypothetical relationships. Might need to know if she actually has pain, is weak, has bad balance, what is involved in the surgery, what muscles were cut in surgery, what those mm do, whether she has problems with her other leg, etc. Unwilling to put weight on leg Balance problems Fearful Russek: PBL

10 Pedagogical Foundation
Social constructivism Content better understood & retained More effective for adult learners Encourages deep learning Active search for understanding Contrasts with superficial learning (Wood, 2003; Schmidt 2006; Eberlein, 2008; Spencer & Jordan, 1999; Onyon, 2012 Lecture-based learning doesn’t take advantage of the fact that we have students gathered together trying to master content and learn how to learn. Lecture-only teaching may eventually be replaced by digital media. On-site programs have the opportunity to encourage real-time collaboration. The human mind can only learn so much in a given amount of time. A dense lecture can overwhelm students – and we know that students don’t ‘learn’ everything we tell them in a lecture. PBL provides a method to actively engage students in the learning process. (Eberlein, 2008) Russek: PBL

11 Adult Learning Self-directed Draws on previous experience
Value relevance Problem solving Immediate applicability Active participation Mutual trust and respect. Cycles of action and reflection (Spencer & Jordan, 1999; Onyan, 2012) Russek: PBL

12 Generic Skills in PBL Teamwork Presentation and communication skills
Cooperation Group facilitation Active listening Respect for colleagues’ views Presentation and communication skills Self directed learning Seeking and using resources Critical evaluation of resources/literature (Wood, 2003; Schmidt, 2006) Russek: PBL

13 Disadvantages of PBL Requires more staff for multiple groups
Tutors require training Requires space (tutorial rooms) Faculty may struggle Must refrain from ‘knowledge dump’ Must give up ‘laundry list’ (Wood, 2003) From an administrative perspective: Laundry list – our list of facts we feel every student must remember. Is it better for them to understand a few things well, or recognize many things superficially? Russek: PBL

14 Disadvantages of PBL Students sometimes struggle Students may resist
Overwhelmed by information Overwhelmed by responsibility Discouraged by awareness of how much they do not know Students may resist Want more lectures Uncomfortable with reflection (Wood, 2003) From students’ perspective, while PBL can be exciting, it can also be difficult. Overwhelmed by responsibility to figure out what is important Students may resist, at first – request more lectures, specific readings, etc. Principle is that students will need to struggle with these issues in the real world, and it is better for them to learn to deal with these issues in the supportive classroom environment rather than have to figure it out after they graduate. Russek: PBL

15 Roles Course Coordinator Tutor Student Russek: PBL
Course coordinator usually creates problems Russek: PBL

16 Course Coordinator Develops problems Manages course
Needs content expertise Understands curriculum Fluent with PBL Manages course Weekly planning meetings with tutors Prepares problem handouts, exams etc. Russek: PBL

17 Tutor Tutor: “Guide by the Side” Expert vs. non-expert Lecturer:
“Sage on the Stage” Expert vs. non-expert: either has content knowledge or just facilitation skills Expert tutors sometimes revert to sharing their wealth of knowledge Tutor is NOT there to Identify questions students should answer Quiz students on content Provide content information Tell students whether they are right or wrong Tell students what they should be discussing Russek: PBL

18 Tutor Ensures that learning objectives are met
Challenges group to think deeply & integrate Helps students learn to learn Helps group avoid becoming overwhelmed or stuck Ensures that group issues are addressed Encourages reflection on the process “30-second rule” Russek: PBL

19 Tutoring Questions Increase participation: Keep discussion on track:
What is causing this situation? What else might be going on? Can you explain that in more detail? Keep discussion on track: What are you trying to accomplish? How does this relate to…? Why is this relevant? (Modified from Nicholl & Lou, 2012) Make sure students don’t get derailed Russek: PBL

20 Tutoring Questions Check accountability:
Why are you choosing that approach? Where did you find that information? How will you know if that information is valid? Encourage thinking & problem solving How will you know if your answer is good? How can we organize/model this? How does this compare with….? (Modified from Nicholl & Lou, 2012) Russek: PBL

21 Students Identify gaps in current knowledge
Independent study Identify and find reliable sources Share information with group Listen and critique other students Analyze and integrate information Attend to group processes: Facilitate participation of others, self-evaluation, group evaluation Russek: PBL

22 Group Evaluation Self, peer & tutor feedback about the PROCESS
Not just factual content Not words/minute (‘information dump’) Value different communication styles Identify specific process skills Need to value different personality types – extraverts will be more gregarious and generate ideas; introverts will be quieter and more thoughtful Russek: PBL

23 Effectiveness of PBL Students more engaged in learning
Enjoy it more Better able to apply their knowledge Better at problem-solving Have better group skills: communication, collaboration, facilitation Better at self-directed learning Learn the same or slightly fewer facts But improved retention (Kindler, 2009; Schmidt, 2006) Retention better Russek: PBL

24 “Brains-On” Experience
Let’s try some Mini-PBL! How many minutes? Russek: PBL

25 “Brains-On” Experience
Form groups of 5-8 participants Select one of the “problems” Identify one person as “tutor” Tutor will have ‘tutor guide’ information Brainstorm list of potential learning issues May be in your domain of study or not Identify potential sources of information How many minutes? Russek: PBL

26 Problem Choices Zombie Attack math, biology, education, sociology, politics, psychology, media, communication, public health, literature Salem’s Secrets history, sociology, psychology, biochemistry/chemistry, legal systems, literature, public health, theology Blade Runner engineering, physics, math, biology, ethics, physical education, sociology, media Blade Runner: Engineering, physics, math, biology, phys ed, ethics, sociology, media Zombie Attack: Math, biology, education, sociology, politics, psychology, media, public health, literature, Salem’s Secrets: History, biochemistry/chemistry, sociology, psychology, legal systems, literature, public health, theology Russek: PBL

27 Alternative, Similar Models
Project based learning (PjBL) Process-oriented guided inquiry learning (POGIL) Peer-led team learning (PLTL) Eberlein T, et al. Pedagogies of engagement in science: A comparison of PBL, POGIL, and PLTL. Biochem Mol Biol Educ. 2008;36(4): All have received a lot of NSF Give an example of each Russek: PBL

28 Project-Based Learning
Learning based on (real-world) project Goal directed Interdisciplinary Collaborative decision-making Generally a long-term project Involves time in and out of the classroom Not just assigning a project. Requires careful planning to make it a productive learning experience. Most of the same attributes of Problem-based learning: active, cooperative, contextual learning motivated by a meaningful real-world problem; students learn to learn, gaining life-long learning skills, self-directed, Examples: Start a coffee stand Build an electric car Create a course curriculum Russek: PBL

29 Project-Based Learning
Requires a range of skills: Communication, collaboration, leadership, project-management, organization, problem-solving, research, presentation Requires multiple roles Reflection on success of the project Self & peer feedback Reflection on the learning process Russek: PBL

30 Process-Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL)
Students work through cases using instructor’s questions to guide inquiry Example: Zombie Attack guided questions In your own words, summarize how individuals can move from one state to another and at what rate. Using equations for the change in numbers of susceptibles (S) over time as a guide, explain what each of the equations mean. Based on the model… what strategy should humans use to survive? “Zombie Attack!” by Kyla M. Flanagan Russek: PBL

31 POGIL Self-managed teams of 3-5 students Work during class hours
Instructor facilitates multiple groups Work during class hours Discuss course material using a series of carefully constructed questions Develops: Problem-solving, deductive reasoning, communication, self-assessment skills Russek: PBL

32 POGIL 3-phase approach Exploration: Conceptualization: Application
Find meaning or patterns in a ‘model’ which may be pictures, tables, equations, prose, graphs, etc. Questions challenge students to test hypotheses, explain patterns, etc. Conceptualization: Concept or relationship emerges & develops Application Extend & apply concepts to new situations Russek: PBL

33 Peer-Led Team Learning
‘Workshops’ supplement but do not replace lecture Meet outside of class time (e.g. recitations) No limit in class size Work in teams of 6-8 students Teams led by undergraduates who did well in the course previously Peer leaders are trained to facilitate Learning opportunity for team leaders Indiana U Purdue Florida International Russek: PBL

34 PLTL Example from anatomy & physiology
An individual has a resting cardiac output of 6000 ml and a resting heart rate of 60 BPM. What is her stroke volume? If her stroke volume at rest is 120 ml, what is her ejection fraction? A partial failure of the aortic semilunar valve would likely lead to reduction in: End diastolic volume (this answer is T/F because) Cardiac output (this answer is T/F because) Ejection fraction (this answer is T/F because) David Lemons CCNY Goal is to have students not only talking through concepts and problem solving, but also learning to listen Russek: PBL

35 PLTL Teams work on structured problems
Problems closely integrated with course No answers provided Encouraged to find, articulate, evaluate and build confidence in answers Peer-leaders must be familiar with the course, have good people skills Requires some supervision of collaborative sessions Logistics: need space, funding (for peer tutors) Russek: PBL

36 Shared Characteristics
PBL POGIL PLTL Actively engage students in solving meaningful problems using collaborative, contextual learning Help students ‘learn to learn’ as well as learn content Develop interpersonal & communication skills Russek: PBL

37 Application How might you apply these models into your classroom?
Which models are most appropriate? What would make a good problem? What learning issues would that problem generate? Russek: PBL

38 Select Resources: Citations
Eberlein T, Kampmeier J, Minderhout V, et al. Pedagogies of engagement in science: A comparison of PBL, POGIL, and PLTL. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education. 2008;36(4): Kindler P, Grant C, Kulla S, et al. Difficult incidents and tutor interventions in problem-based learning tutorials. Medical Education. 2009;43: Nicholl TA, Lou K. A model for small-group Problem-Based Learning in a large class facilitated by one instructor. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. 2012;76(6):1-6. Onyon C. Problem-based learning: a review of the educational and psychological theory. The Clinical Teacher. 2012;9:22-26. Schmidt HG, Rotgans JI, Yew EHJ. The process of problem-based learning: what works and why. Medical Education. 2011;45: Schmidt HG, Vermeulen L, van der Molen HT. Longterm effects of problem-based learning: a comparison of competencies acquired by graduates of a problem-based and a conventional medical school. Medical Education. 2006; Singaram VS. van der Vleuten, van Berkel H, Dolmans DHJM. Reliability and validity of a tutorial effectiveness instrument. Medical Teacher. 2010;32:e133-e137. Spencer JA, Jordan RK. Learner centred approaches in medical education. British Medical Journal. 1999;318: Wood DF. ABC of learning and teaching in medicine: Problem based learning. British Medical Journal. 2003;326: Russek: PBL

39 Select Resources: PBL University of Deleware (UG) sample cases & syllabi: PBL Clearinghouse (sample UG problems): https://primus.nss.udel.edu/Pbl/ ScienceNet links to PBL resources: Stanford University (HS/UG, sample problems in range of domains): Russek: PBL

40 Selected Resources: PjBL
Project-based learning: Buck Institute for Education (BIE): Russek: PBL

41 Select Resources: POGIL
Process-Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning: NSF National Center for Case Study Learning (large library of cases at all learning levels): Project Kaleidoscope: Russek: PBL

42 Selected Resources: PLTL
The Center for Peer-led Team Learning: City College of New York: Russek: PBL

43 Questions? Slides available electronically at:
Spencer & Jordan, 1999 Slides available electronically at: Russek: PBL


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