Developing engaging and creative investigative activities for use in undergraduate science, engineering and mathematics labs and classrooms was the underlying theme of this three-day workshop. This June 2011 workshop also featured such guest speakers as Rick Moog and Terry Platt.
It all starts with the problem. In problem-based instruction, student learning begins by facing a query, puzzle, or problem that the learner is motivated to solve. In the problem-based approach, complex, real world problems or cases are used to motivate students to identify and research concepts and principles they need to know in order to progress through the problems. Students work in small learning teams, bringing together collective skill at acquiring, communicating, and integrating information in a process that resembles that of inquiry.
Faculty members, teaching staff, and graduate teaching assistants from any discipline or department were invited to participate in this PBL workshop series. The first half of this series session involved brief presentations of key elements of problem-based learning, with an emphasis on active learning and plenty of time for discussion. Participants experienced PBL themselves as they worked through sample problems and exercises. During the second half, participants worked on plans and materials for integrating PBL and other active learning strategies into their own classrooms, with the goal of implementing their plans during Fall 2009 or Spring 2010.
This three-day workshop demonstrated PBL and model ways that PBL can be used effectively in all disciplines, in upper and lower division courses, and in all size classes. One focus of this program was writing effective problem-based materials; participants left the session with new or revised problems for use in their courses. Another focus was engaging students in research and communication as part of the process of PBL.