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Problem Based Learning: A Case Study. Presented by: Deana Halonen Ph.D. Candidate, M.S.W., H.B.S.W Agenda. Problem Based Learning (PBL) Characteristics Basic Steps Advantages Limitations The Case Study Major Findings Students Perceptions.

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problem based learning a case study

Problem Based Learning: A Case Study

Presented by: Deana Halonen

Ph.D. Candidate, M.S.W., H.B.S.W

  • Problem Based Learning (PBL)
    • Characteristics
    • Basic Steps
    • Advantages
    • Limitations
  • The Case Study
  • Major Findings
  • Students Perceptions
problem based learning pbl
Problem Based Learning (PBL)
  • Began in 1950’s as a movement to restructure medical education at McMaster University (Canada)
  • Unlike traditional instruction that culminates in a problem after basic instruction on facts and skills (sometimes in the form of a test or exam), PBL begins with a problem, teaching facts and skills in a relevant context
characteristics of problem based learning
Characteristics of Problem Based Learning
  • Requires students to solve authentic, real-life open-ended problems with many correct answers possible
  • Authentic problems are those real-life issues faced by doctors, nurses, social workers, police officers, lawyers, engineers, business administrators, pilots, etc., etc., etc.
characteristics of pbl
Characteristics of PBL
  • Emphasizes students’ pre-existing knowledge; “start with what you know”
  • Students actively participate by helping plan, organize, and evaluate the problem solving process
  • Interdisciplinary connections stressed
  • Students undertake authentic roles
basic steps of problem based learning
Basic Steps of Problem Based Learning
  • Students divided into groups
  • Real problem is presented and discussed
  • Students identify
    • What is known in relation to the problem
    • What information is needed
    • What strategies or next steps to take in order to “learn” the information/knowledge/skills needed
  • Individuals research different issues, gather resources
basic steps of pbl con t
Basic Steps of PBL (con’t)
  • Resources evaluated in group and new information/knowledge/skills shared/taught to rest of the group
  • Cycle repeats until students feel that problem has been framed adequately and all issues have been addressed
  • Possible actions, recommendations, solutions or hypotheses are generated
  • Tutor groups conduct peer/self assessments
facilitators and problem based learning
Facilitators and Problem Based Learning
  • Teachers are seen as the “facilitator” and are key to these learning environments
  • Model higher-order process skills
  • Probe for student understanding
  • Never identify issues or state an opinion while students are framing the problems
advantages of problem based learning
Advantages of Problem Based Learning
  • Greater retention and recall of knowledge
  • Interdisciplinary:
    • can require accessing and using information from a variety of subject domains;
    • Better integration of knowledge
    • Integration of classroom & field
  • Development of life-long learning skills
    • How to research
    • How to communicate in groups
    • How to handle problems
advantages of pbl
Advantages of PBL
  • Learning environment that is
    • Active
    • Cooperative
    • Self & peer assessed
    • Student centred
    • Highly effective
  • Learning environment that provides
    • Prompt feedback
    • Opportunities to account for personal learning preferences & multiple intelligences
    • Opportunities to allow for a variety of levels of learning
advantages of pbl11
Advantages of PBL
  • Learning environment that enhances critical thinking and problem solving skills
  • Greatest strength of PBL is:
    • Increased motivation
    • Increased student satisfaction
    • Increased Student-student interaction
    • Increased Student-instructor interaction
limitations of problem based learning
Limitations of Problem Based Learning
  • Requires significant pre-planning and development of
    • Authentic problems, cases, situations
    • Resources available for students
      • Literature
      • Resource people
      • Professionals in the field
  • Requires an authentic commitment and willingness to honor the knowledge, experience & skills that students bring to the learning experience
limitations of pbl
Limitations of PBL
  • Requires a change of Paradigms
    • A shift of focus from what faculty teach to what students learn
    • A view of the Instructor as facilitator of the learning as opposed to “the one expert” whose role is to “bank knowledge” (Friere) through lectures or classroom demonstrations
resources references
Resources & References
  • Problem-based learning, especially in the context of large classes Available online at
  • Stepien, Senn & Stepien (2000) The Internet and Problem-Based Learning: Developing Solutions through the web
  • Rankin (1999) Handbook on Problem-Based Learning Challis Resource Centre
  • Duch, Groh & Allen (2001) The Power of Problem-based Learning: A practical ‘how to’ for teaching undergraduate courses in any discipline
the problem
The Problem
  • Imagine you are at the end of a phone line with a group of students who are situated throughout a region, province, Canada, possibly beyond. It is a 3 hour class and you know that while students can hear you, they can’t see you or each other.
  • You have no idea if someone is chatting, has gone to the washroom, is reading the newspaper, making the weekly shopping list, or even left class for the day.
  • You want to ensure that students are connecting with the material, connecting with you (the Instructor), connecting with each other and connecting with the institution.
  • You know that students report general dissatisfaction with ‘distance education’ and learning at a distance from their instructors.
the case study
The Case Study
  • How does Problem Based Teaching affect student satisfaction in Social Work courses delivered through virtual audioconferenced Distance Education classrooms?
  • Within a group of students enrolled in a 2 year dual diploma program, Instructor/Researcher taught 4 (3 credit hour) courses:
  • 2 for 1st year students: 1 using PBL & 1 using Lecture Based Teaching
  • 2 for 2nd year student: 1 using PBL & 1 using Lecture Based Teaching
  • Throughout the term, all students were required to maintain a journal and reflect on:
    • What they were learning
    • How they were learning it
    • How they knew they were learning it
    • How would they demonstrate that they were learning it
data 2
Data (2)
  • Some classes were audio-taped
  • Some classes were video-taped
    • In the first ½ of the course
    • In the second ½ of the course
  • Instructor/Researcher maintained a journal recording the classroom learning activities that students engaged in
  • Researcher/Instructor maintained a journal recording students reactions and levels of participation in the classroom learning activities
data 3
Data (3)
  • At the beginning of the term, all students were provided with an explanation about the research and asked to complete a sheet of paper and indicate whether or not they would participate in the research project. The sheet of paper was then placed in a sealed envelope and mailed to an independent third party
  • Since all students filled in the form, no one was able to tell who chose to participate and who chose not to participate, including the Instructor/Researcher
  • Once all evaluation was completed and Final Grades were submitted to the Registrar, the Independent third party released the signed sheets of paper to the Researcher/Instructor
data 4
Data (4)
  • One to one or focus group interviews were held with those students who had consented to participate in the research project
  • Data was gathered on:
    • The student’s experience and their perception of:
      • Level of learning in PBL & Lecture courses
      • Level of satisfaction with PBL & Lecture courses
      • Level of participation in PBL & Lecture courses
      • What they were doing differently in PBL & Lecture courses
  • The Students
    • 59 in 4 courses >19 Year 1 & 22 Year 2 > 14 agreed to participate
    • 12 of the sample were female & 2 were male
    • Physically located in 8 different communities
      • 7 in Northwestern Ontario
      • 1 in Northeastern Ontario
    • Grade Point Average ranged from 2.96 to 4.0 with average being 3.4
major findings
Major Findings
  • Retention Rate was 100%
  • Actively engaged
  • Satisfaction
  • Participation
  • Collaboration
  • Learning
    • Construction of Knowledge
    • Application of knowledge
    • Retain Knowledge
students perceptions
Students Perceptions
  • Stimulating
  • Humane
  • Challenging
  • Exchange with others
  • Resources
students perceptions27
Students Perceptions
  • What were they doing differently?