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Introducing PBL to a first-year curriculum: results and experiences Frank Forsythe [ project leader ] Malcolm Campbell Paul Keen.

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Presentation on theme: "Introducing PBL to a first-year curriculum: results and experiences Frank Forsythe [ project leader ] Malcolm Campbell Paul Keen."— Presentation transcript:

1 Introducing PBL to a first-year curriculum: results and experiences Frank Forsythe [ project leader ] Malcolm Campbell Paul Keen [ student facilitator ][ student facilitator ] School of Economics & Politics University of Ulster Northern Ireland

2 Mini-project funded by the Economics Network

3 Main objectives of the project To establish a successful first-year PBL component within the core teaching provision of economics at UUJ To develop employability skills in first year students, including independent learning, team awareness, communication and time-management skills To develop in students the confidence to use economic tools and concepts to explain and resolve economic issues and problems To evaluate the potential of PBL to encourage good academic discipline and commitment in first year students To identify the problems posed by introducing PBL to a first year curriculum


5 MIXED ABILITY COHORT FIRST YEAR BSc ECON FIRST YEAR MODULE: MICROECONOMICS 1 FEATURES GROUP WORK – 2 presentations, 3 written reports, 1 quiz INDIVIDUAL WORK – personal development report, final year examination WebCT module support Final year students acted as group facilitators Code of conduct governing group sessions Rogue learners present

6 Difficulties Posed By Administrative Arrangements Micro1 was timetabled for Monday afternoons – no other classes that day There was a gap of 6 weeks between the end of the first semester teaching period and the start of the second semester teaching period Micro1 was the only module in which students had to sit an examination based upon a whole academic year (i.e. 2 semesters)

7 Difficulties Posed by the Student Cohort The intake to the BSc (Econ) programme was a particularly difficult cohort …in terms of … Attitudes to learning General commitment to lessons Many modules experienced serious problems relating to attendance and assessed academic performance Rogue learners present

8 Outcomes of the Mini-Project (1) Only in Micro 1 was attendance excellent (averaging over 90% for the 24 teaching weeks). Significantly superior to other modules All PBL tasks were completed on time throughout the year by student groups. The workload was higher than any other first year module Each PBL task was designed to integrate basic theoretical ideas with real-world situations. This applied aspect of PBL tasks helps explain the retained interest by students throughout the year

9 Outcomes of the Mini-Project (2) In terms of developing confidence in the use of economic tools and their real-world applications, the PBL experiment has been successful [very evident in final examination] Student personal development reports assessing their experiences of PBL are generally positive about their experiences The Staff-Student Consultative Committee meeting and the Student Evaluation of Teaching reports reflect very positive student attitudes towards the Micro 1 module

10 The group seemed more willing to take time to explain the basic concepts to individuals who needed help, which in turn seemed to encourage anyone who could not first grasp key concepts to identify problem areas for discussion at next meeting. It was also surprising to me to note the quality as well as the quantity of work that was completed on time, and this seemed to improve as the weeks progressed. The positive externalities included a number of very important aspects of student life, which I, as a student felt were often not addressed fully. The development of real, tangible, transferable skills through dialogue, discourse and discussion meant that students better appreciated how to communicate more effectively. Malcolm Campbell BSc (Econ)

11 I liked the emphasis PBL placed on self-study and the penalty system for team members who did not participate. If students did not do their work the group could penalise them and award 0% if necessary. On the whole I do believe that PBL did make the students more committed to, and interested in, the subject compared to traditional class lectures. The most important thing is the attitude that students take to the new working arrangements - it is important that no individual is allowed to drag a group into inactivity. Paul Keen BSc (Econ)

12 Proposition 1 High ability students excel under ANY learning regime

13 Proposition 1 High ability students excel under ANY learning regime High ability students LEARN more in a student-centred regime Proposition 2

14 Proposition 3 Weaker students LEARN more and PERFORM better in a student-centred environment

15 a student-centred regime: does not harm high ability students will raise the performance of weaker students Summary Proposition

16 I think this module has definitely enhanced my employment prospects. If I was to write about my experiences in other modules, which were all lectures, it is questionable if they have actually developed my skills. However with this module I can say that I have improved in many aspects. My teamwork and leadership skills have certainly improved. In most jobs you are inevitably going to be part of a team. This module has certainly given me more confidence in a group situation. This module has also forced me to be organized, as I have to do the work or else I would be letting my group down. This has instilled good discipline which I hope would carry over to a job. Another aspect of this module was the presentations. I have done presentations before, but never as involved as those required for this module. At the same time I really enjoyed doing the presentations and was calm and relaxed. I have no doubt that I felt this way because I was comfortable being up with my group members with whom I have formed a bond. Hopefully I can carry over these benefits into employment. Year 1 student, Microeconomics 1, UUJ

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