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Integrating PBL into Teacher Education


Graham Parton

on 18 January 2010

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Transcript of Integrating PBL into Teacher Education

Integrating PBL into Teacher Education ‘because education is not a science, it's an art, it's very hard when something goes well to know why.’ Gardner 2002
What is Problem-based Learning? PBL is an instructional method that challenges students to "learn to learn," working cooperatively in groups to seek solutions to real world problems. These problems are used to engage students' curiosity and initiate learning the subject matter. PBL prepares students to think critically and analytically, and to find and use appropriate learning resources. --BarbaraDuch (2000)
Aims of PBL Application of problem solving in new and future situations
Creative and critical thought
Adoption of holistic approach to problems and situations
Appreciation of diverse viewpoints
Successful team collaboration
Promotion of self-directed learning
Effective communication skills
Leadership skills
Utilisation of relevant and varied resources
The Process of PBL A scenario runs for three weeks and is broken down into the following stages:
Week 1: Introduction and Initial Research

The presentation of the scenario to the students. The students decide on a chairperson and two scribes. A discussion follows on the things that students know about, past knowledge concerning the issues presented in the scenario and issues that will need more research to allow common understanding. Students then use the remaining time to research.
Week 2: Feedback and Lecture

The students meet and report on the research they have done and discuss the implications of this. Students decide on a way forward to make the problem clearer in their own minds and also to consider what they will research further. After this all the students have a lecture on the issues outlined by the scenario.
Week 3: Plenary and Assessment of Process
The students led by the chair decide how they are going to prepare for the plenary. This can be an informed discussion on the main issues, a plan of action, a theory into practise session etc. Once all discussions /presentations have been made the group discuss how the scenario went in terms of:
Their successful completion of the scenario- Have they met the learning objectives?
Their role in the group as a whole,
The learning journey they have followed- implications to their teaching and learning philosophies.
‘PBL has made me research much deeper and I now realise that there isn’t always a right answer!’
‘It makes you feel like a real teacher!’
‘You have to work a lot harder but working in a team is excellent, the discussions we have are brilliant!’
‘It’s exciting when you get the scenario as we are in control of what we research and the conclusions we come to.’ ‘I found it difficult at first but I understand far more now than I would from a lecture.’
What do students think? Planning for PBL 'One must reconsider what students really need to learn and the environment in which they learn. Much of the enthusiasm for the problem-based approach to learning comes from instructors who feel revitalized by the creative energy it releases.'
Hal White, "'Creating Problems' for PBL" Ill-structured problems:
• require more information for understanding the
problem than is initially available.
• contain multiple solution paths.
• change as new information is obtained.
• prevent students from knowing that they have made
the “right” decision.
• generate interest and controversy and cause the
learner to ask questions.
• are open-ended and complex enough to require
collaboration and thinking beyond recall.
• contain content that is authentic to the discipline.
(Adapted from Allen, Duch & Groh, 1996;
Gallagher, 1997.) The key thing in making [PBL] successful is the
amount of time and energy that goes into the creation
of the project. Finding a problem that really
means something to the participants is absolutely
critical. [O]nce you find a very salient problem,
then structure the learning objectives around that
problem and find resources that inform students’
thinking about the problem. . . chances are it’s going
to have some success.
Professor Michael Copland PBL in Teacher Education Future Teachers Teachers are required to operate in ever-changing situations (Van Mahen, 1994).

Critique of apprenticeship models of Teacher Education (Lawlor, 1990)

De-professionalising teacher education- challenging and restricting teacher autonomy and agency (Furlong, 2000).
We need teachers who can:

Think critically

Collaborate as a team

Reflect and adapt to change

Have the ability to make judgements on effective practice, through expert knowledge, theory and values

Encourage creativity
Student Experience of PBL Disjunction Jarvis (1987) argues that disjunction lies at the heart of learning and that it is essential for true meaning making. Seen as a dynamic and positive experience.
‘I didn't feel the course [Year 1 Professional Studies] flowed last year and it wasn't something I could get my teeth into. In the first year we were fed, I really like to have control over my own learning and I didn’t have this. It was just lectures and a seminar where you could talk about things, but this was very superficial.’

‘..its something I really like about PBL, being able to get your teeth into it and be responsible for your own work. I like to be put under pressure, if not the work doesn't get done. I like to drive myself and PBL is giving me that drive and independence because you are researching and then talking about with your group makes you much more involved with the material.’

‘If it wasn’t for PBL I wouldn’t have been challenged in this way and I would have probably got away with it.’
Collaboration Promotes higher levels of student achievement (Wulff et al, 1987), critical reasoning skills (Gabbert et al 1996) and engagement in cognitive experiences (Brown et al, 1989)

‘Ethic of Individualisation’ (Lukes 1973); an activity that is only valuable in terms of what they as an individual can gain from it.

‘Initially we would all come in with our notes, but none of us really trusted each other. I didn’t trust someone else to take responsibility for this scenario. We would all be going away and overlapping and we would come back together with the same research.’

‘It has been difficult to work as a group as they come back with the research they have done but not the research itself, so I can’t go away and look at it myself and make my own mind up. I found that really frustrating and constantly ask them to put the reference of the research at the top. Some of them seem to get away with not doing much research and just regurgitate what the internet is saying. I think that is why I find the group work hard because I want to make my own mind up rather than being told by someone else.’
Christine spoke of the way she felt liberated as a student teacher and that she could have a stance in the many issues and debates in education even though she felt it was challenging.

‘I really enjoyed the ideologies of education scenario as this made me change my ideas of education and made me look back to my own education. It was the first time I had really looked at different ideologies of education and I loved the way we could discuss the advantages and disadvantages with our PBL group.’

‘In the first year I felt that professional studies was information we needed to learn but never really got to argue or discuss some of the lectures as I felt that was not allowed. In PBL this is completely different, after a lecture we are encouraged to disagree with the lecture and provide evidence as to why we don’t agree. It does have a disadvantage though, in that whenever we tackle an issue it opens up a can of worms and it can get confusing at first but I like it that way, its more of a challenge.’
Professional Identity PBL offers a learning situation which promotes self development and self-discovery
(Savin-Baden, 2000)

‘..emphasises aspects of experience which go deeper than the merely cognitive, and which reflect its essential relational, social and agentic character.’ (Salmon, 1989: 231)

‘….so my mom had already made the decision and spoken to my teacher in the staff room. (Laughter) so the decision was made for me, however having said that now, the way it panned out I was very happy, but at the time I think I begrudged that, but I didn't have the power to say anything else.’ John

Learners prefer not to be constantly controlled and directed, Pollard (1994)

‘It was really nice to be able to go away and research things for myself instead of relying on the lecturers all the time to feed us the information. I really like working like this as it gave me a sense of myself doing the learning, if that makes sense.’ Christine
Learner Identity Assessment needs to fit the philosophy of active
learning rather than passive reproductive learning. . .
It may be preferable, and more rigorous, for assessments to follow the PBL philosophy and to require the individual to analyze a problem, search for and then apply relevant information. (Reynolds, 1997, p. 272) Assessment in PBL PBL assessments should be authentic, which is to say
that they should be structured so that students can
display their understanding of problems and their
solutions in contextually-meaningful ways (Gallagher,
1997). Creating An Appropriate Problem

focus problems on current events, student lives, or relationships to actual occurrences at the local, national, or international level.
maintain motivation
Content reasonable for the time allotted.
ability of students to transfer their acquired skills and knowledge to life outside the classroom, and their ability to solve real world problems.
Coverage: to help ensure your problem will guide students to appropriate information :
Identify the big picture, major concept, or main idea
Identify the basic facts and concepts students have to uncover as they solve the problem.
Create a problem that not only focuses students on the large problem but also takes them through the objectives.
Make sure resources are available for students to reference during their problem analysis and solution.
Helps ensure that there is no "one right" answer. Having multiple correct answers that approach the problem from various perspectives and solutions can springboard to class discussions that stimulate student higher level thinking.
Often allow for the integration of interdisciplinary solutions; a common occurrence in solving real world problems.
Complex problems usually require learners to exhibit management, research, and thinking skills that help distinguish less expert from more expert performers (Albanese & Mitchell, 1993). This differentiation can help serve as a grading standards in the class. PBL problems should be created with (Bridges, 1992):

3.learning objectives,
5.expected outcome,
6.guiding questions,
7.assessment exercises,
8.time frame. Reports : Written communication is another skill important for students. Requiring written reports allows students to practice this form of communication. Concept maps : Much of the learning that goes on during PBL is more than just a compilation of facts. As such, written examinations may not be an adequate measure of student growth. Requiring students to generate concept maps, in which they depict their knowledge through the creation of identified nodes and links, may present another option to determine their cognitive growth. Peer assessment : Because life outside the classroom usually requires working with others, peer assessment is a viable option to measure student growth. Providing students with an evaluation rubric often helps guide the peer evaluation process. This process also emphasizes the cooperative nature of the PBL environment. Self assessment : An important element of PBL is to help students identify gaps in their knowledge base in order for more meaningful learning to result. Self assessment allows students to think more carefully about what they know, what they do not know, and what they need to know to accomplish certain tasks. Facilitators/tutor assessment : The feedback provided by tutors should encourage the students to explore different ideas. It is important that facilitators not dominate the group, facilitate learning and exploration. Tutor assessment may consist of how successful individuals interacted with their group and their cognitive growth. Oral Presentations : Because so much of work life revolves around presenting ideas and results to peers, oral presentation in PBL provide students an opportunity to practice their communication skills. Presenting findings to their group, the class, or even a real-life audience can help strengthen these skills. Student
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