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The Use of Open-Ended Problem-Based Learning Scenarios in an Interdisciplinary Biotechnology Class: Evaluation of a Problem-Based Learning Course Across Three Years

    Authors: Todd R. Steck1,*, Warren DiBiase2, Chuang Wang3, Anatoli Boukhtiarov2
    VIEW AFFILIATIONS HIDE AFFILIATIONS
    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223; 2: Department of Middle, Secondary and K-12 Education, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223; 3: Department of Education Leadership, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 03 May 2012
    • Supplementary materials available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: 9201 University City Blvd, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223. Phone: 704-687-8534. Fax: 704-687-3128. E-mail: trsteck@uncc.edu.
    • Copyright © 2012 American Society for Microbiology
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2012 vol. 13 no. 1 2-10. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v13i1.389
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    Abstract:

    Use of open-ended Problem-Based Learning (PBL) in biology classrooms has been limited by the difficulty in designing problem scenarios such that the content learned in a course can be predicted and controlled, the lack of familiarity of this method of instruction by faculty, and the difficulty in assessment. Here we present the results of a study in which we developed a team-based interdisciplinary course that combined the fields of biology and civil engineering across three years. We used PBL scenarios as the only learning tool, wrote the problem scenarios, and developed the means to assess these courses and the results of that assessment. Our data indicates that PBL changed students’ perception of their learning in content knowledge and promoted a change in students’ learning styles. Although no statistically significant improvement in problem-solving skills and critical thinking skills was observed, students reported substantial changes in their problem-based learning strategies and critical thinking skills.

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References & Citations

1. Chung J, Chow S2004Promoting student learning through a student-centered problem-based learning subject curriculumInnovations in Education and Teaching International4115716810.1080/1470329042000208684 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1470329042000208684
2. Cohen J1988Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciencesLawrence Erlbaum AssociatesHillsdale, NJ
3. Felder RM, Solomon BA1996Index of learning styleshttp://www.ncsu.edu/felder-public/ILSpage.html
4. Gijbels D, van de Watering G, Dochy F2005Integrating assessment tasks in a problem-based learning environmentAssessment & Evaluation in Higher Education30738610.1080/0260293042003243913 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0260293042003243913
5. Hmelo C1998Problem-based learning: effects on the early acquisition of cognitive skill in medicineJ. Learning Sciences717320810.1207/s15327809jls0702_2 http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15327809jls0702_2
6. Kelson AC, Distlehorst L2000Groups in problem-based learning (PBL): essential elements in theory and practice Evensen DH, Hmelo CEProblem-based learning: a research perspective on learning interactionsLawrence Erlbaum AssociatesMahwah, NJ167184
7. Norton L2004Using assessment criteria as learning criteria: Case study in psychologyAssessment & Evaluation in Higher Education2968770210.1080/0260293042000227236 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0260293042000227236
8. Novak J, Gowin D1984Learning how to learnCambridge University PressCambridge, U.K
9. Nuy H1999Interactions of study orientation and students’ appreciation of structure in their educational environmentHigher Education2226727410.1007/BF00132291 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00132291
10. Patel V, Groen G, Norman G1993Reasoning and instruction in medical curriculaCognition and instruction1033537810.1207/s1532690xci1004_2 http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s1532690xci1004_2
11. Savin-Baden M2004Understanding the impact of assessment on students in problem-based learningInnovations in Education and Teaching International4122423310.1080/1470329042000208729 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1470329042000208729
12. Sobral D1995The problem-based learning approach as an enhancement factor of personal meaningfulness of learningHigher Education299310110.1007/BF01384243 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF01384243
13. Yeung E, Au-Yeung S, Chiu Th, Mok N, Lai P2003Problem design in problem-based learning: evaluating students’ learning and self-directed learning practicesInnovations in Education and Teaching International4023724410.1080/1470329032000103762 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1470329032000103762
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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v13i1.389
2012-05-03
2017-08-21

Abstract:

Use of open-ended Problem-Based Learning (PBL) in biology classrooms has been limited by the difficulty in designing problem scenarios such that the content learned in a course can be predicted and controlled, the lack of familiarity of this method of instruction by faculty, and the difficulty in assessment. Here we present the results of a study in which we developed a team-based interdisciplinary course that combined the fields of biology and civil engineering across three years. We used PBL scenarios as the only learning tool, wrote the problem scenarios, and developed the means to assess these courses and the results of that assessment. Our data indicates that PBL changed students’ perception of their learning in content knowledge and promoted a change in students’ learning styles. Although no statistically significant improvement in problem-solving skills and critical thinking skills was observed, students reported substantial changes in their problem-based learning strategies and critical thinking skills.

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