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Why Problem-Based Learning Works: Theoretical Foundations Authors: Rose M. Marra, David H. Jonassen, Betsy Palmer, Steve Luft Presented by Sterling McLeod.

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Presentation on theme: "Why Problem-Based Learning Works: Theoretical Foundations Authors: Rose M. Marra, David H. Jonassen, Betsy Palmer, Steve Luft Presented by Sterling McLeod."— Presentation transcript:

1 Why Problem-Based Learning Works: Theoretical Foundations Authors: Rose M. Marra, David H. Jonassen, Betsy Palmer, Steve Luft Presented by Sterling McLeod

2 Paper Goals Desire some kind of theoretical basis for Problem-Based Learning Highlights two separate learning theories and their relevant qualities PBL fosters activities needed for learning with these theories Knowing this, discuss how to improve PBL implementation

3 Problem Based Learning Problem Based Learning – Pedagogy technique that focuses learning on problem-solving activities rather than traditional lectures Alternative to conventional lecture-based pedagogy Qualities of PBL Problem-focused Student-centered Self-directed Self-reflective Facilitative

4 Problem Based Learning 1)Students are given a problem that simulates the real world 2)Students attempt to solve the problem 3)Students reflect on the experience

5 Problem Based Learning 1)Students are given a problem The problem should: Resemble real-world Require research into an area Stimulate student creativity All knowledge is learned in the context of problems Knowledge building is stimulated by a problem and applied back to the problem Content of class is organized around problems rather than a hierarchical list of topics

6 Problem Based Learning 2)Students attempt to solve the problem In class Usually done in groups to take advantage of peer interaction Teacher acts as a facilitator Probe student knowledge, but do not interject content or give direct answers Faculty do not dictate learning activities – students create own path to comprehension Students assume responsibility for learning and self-assessment

7 Problem Based Learning 3)Students reflect on the experience What did I learn? Why was it relevant? How did it apply to the problem? How can I apply what I learned to other problems? What similar problems can I still not solve? What do I not know? Students must self-monitor their learning in order for reflection to be effective

8 Theoretical Underpinnings Two Educational Philosophies 1)Constructivism Knowledge generation and construction 4 tenets to highlight 2)Situated Learning Learning as a social process

9 Constructivism Tenets 1)Knowledge is constructed via interactions with the environment Humans construct mental models by perceiving and interpreting the world through cognitive activities Constructed knowledge consists of: 1)Ideas (content) 2)The context in which it was acquired, 3)What the learner was doing in the environment 4)What the knower intended from that environment All of these qualities can be extracted from interacting with the world In PBL, learners interact with the world through problem solving – enables them to extract the four qualities of constructed knowledge

10 Constructivism Tenets 2)Reality is in the mind of the knower (the student) Reality = the sense we make of the world = combination of all learned knowledge Knowledge is built through experiences and forms a unique perception of the world Knowledge is NOT an external entity that exists to be acquired or transmitted In PBL, learning does not occur through an “information dump” from the teacher Each student’s understanding will be based on their experience solving problems

11 Constructivism Tenets 3)Knowledge is anchored in and indexed by relevant contexts Ideas and skills are not independent – they are tied to the context and situation in which they were obtained The context is part of the knowledge Abstract rules and laws, divorced from any context, have no meaning PBL bridges the gap between theory and practice In PBL, knowledge is built from directly connecting ideas to a problem (context)

12 Constructivism Tenets 4)Knowledge construction is stimulated by a question or need or desire to know A dissonance exists between what is known and what is observed Resolving this is the essence of knowledge construction In PBL, learners are immediately thrust into confronting this dissonance

13 Situated Learning Meaningful and long-lasting learning takes place best when embedded in social and physical context that’s similar to the context in which the learning would be applied Ideas abstracted from contexts and presented as theories have little, if any, meaning to learners Knowledge that is anchored or “situated” in specific contexts is more meaningful, more integrated, better retained, and more transferable PBL objectives foster this type of context-connected learning

14 Theoretical Underpinnings Constructivist beliefs, Situated cognition Knowledge is not a thing to be had – it is iteratively built and refined through experience Learning occurs best when anchored to real-world examples Problem Based Learning Learning is focused on students solving problems Interactions can occur with the problem constructs, a teacher, traditional sources of information (e.g. books), and with other individuals PBL fosters interactions needed by constructivist and situated cognition theories

15 Implications and Improvement Metacognition as critical component in student learning Cases to target aspects of learning

16 Metacognition Metacognition is the awareness of one’s own knowledge, of one’s actions, and of one’s current “cognitive or affective state” Includes students’ knowledge of what they know, what they do not know, how they learn new things, and their strengths and weaknesses Characteristics 1)Knowledge of cognition 2)Self-Knowledge

17 Metacognition Knowledge of cognition Knowledge of task, strategy, and personal variables Includes knowledge of the skills required by different tasks, strategic knowledge, and self-knowledge (one’s abilities and abilities of others) Self-regulation Ability to monitor one’s own comprehension and control one’s learning activities Metacognitive skilled students can answer: What do you know? What do you not know? What problems can you solve and not solve? What learning activities will target what you don’t know?

18 Metacognition Need for metacognitive skills in PBL is significantly greater than in other learning environments Much more responsibility on the student’s part Must be able to see which ideas will be relevant to solving a problem Must be able to set goals based on what they do not understand In conventional learning environments, teachers regulate learning activities Teachers determine what a student is lacking, how they can improve, etc. Handling metacognitive skills for the student If a teacher can facilitate methods to help develop metacognitive skills, students’ success in a PBL environment is vastly increased

19 Cases Cases can be utilized to target various aspects of learning

20 Cases Cases as Examples and Experiences to Analyze Role of these cases is to be studied and analyzed as concrete models of ideas being represented abstractly from start to finish Working out cases to a complete solution can tie together ideas, strategy, and context for PBL students Analyzing cases can be used to elicit certain responses out of a student

21 Cases Cases as Problems to Solve Replacing content-based curriculum with problem sets is the essence of PBL Vehicles for initiating reflective, self-directed learning

22 Cases 7 Principles of Problem Design 1)Simulate real life 2)Lead to elaboration 3)Encourage integration of knowledge 4)Encourage self-directed learning 5)Fit in with prior knowledge 6)Interest students 7)Reflect teacher’s learning objectives

23 Cases Problem Difficulty: Problem complexity – breadth, intricacy, and interrelatedness of problem space Problem structuredness – variety of interpretations, interdisciplinary nature Research indicates that students can clearly differentiate between simple and well-structured problems, but not between ill-structured and complex problems

24 Conclusion PBL has it’s roots in both constructivism and situated learning theories Both theories heavily rely on metacognition and case studies Student learning in PBL environments can be improved with: Methods to develop metacognitive skills Well-designed case studies that target areas of learning Understanding the basic theoretical principles behind PBL can help educators implement and design PBL environments more effectively.

25 Conclusion How to foster metacognitive development in a class? How to measure/evaluate metacognitive level of students? Can metacognitive skills be transferred from interactions with peers? Is there a relationship between example case studies and metacognitive development?

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