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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: [email protected].
    • 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 S 2004 Promoting student learning through a student-centered problem-based learning subject curriculum Innovations in Education and Teaching International 41 157 168 10.1080/1470329042000208684 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1470329042000208684
2. Cohen J 1988 Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Hillsdale, NJ
3. Felder RM, Solomon BA 1996 Index of learning styles http://www.ncsu.edu/felder-public/ILSpage.html
4. Gijbels D, van de Watering G, Dochy F 2005 Integrating assessment tasks in a problem-based learning environment Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 30 73 86 10.1080/0260293042003243913 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0260293042003243913
5. Hmelo C 1998 Problem-based learning: effects on the early acquisition of cognitive skill in medicine J. Learning Sciences 7 173 208 10.1207/s15327809jls0702_2 http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15327809jls0702_2
6. Kelson AC, Distlehorst L 2000 Groups in problem-based learning (PBL): essential elements in theory and practice Evensen DH, Hmelo CE Problem-based learning: a research perspective on learning interactions Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Mahwah, NJ 167 184
7. Norton L 2004 Using assessment criteria as learning criteria: Case study in psychology Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 29 687 702 10.1080/0260293042000227236 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0260293042000227236
8. Novak J, Gowin D 1984 Learning how to learn Cambridge University Press Cambridge, U.K
9. Nuy H 1999 Interactions of study orientation and students’ appreciation of structure in their educational environment Higher Education 22 267 274 10.1007/BF00132291 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00132291
10. Patel V, Groen G, Norman G 1993 Reasoning and instruction in medical curricula Cognition and instruction 10 335 378 10.1207/s1532690xci1004_2 http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s1532690xci1004_2
11. Savin-Baden M 2004 Understanding the impact of assessment on students in problem-based learning Innovations in Education and Teaching International 41 224 233 10.1080/1470329042000208729 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1470329042000208729
12. Sobral D 1995 The problem-based learning approach as an enhancement factor of personal meaningfulness of learning Higher Education 29 93 101 10.1007/BF01384243 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF01384243
13. Yeung E, Au-Yeung S, Chiu Th, Mok N, Lai P 2003 Problem design in problem-based learning: evaluating students’ learning and self-directed learning practices Innovations in Education and Teaching International 40 237 244 10.1080/1470329032000103762 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1470329032000103762

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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v13i1.389
2012-05-03
2019-10-15

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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