In June of 1994, a Wingspread Conference brought together state and federal policymakers, and leaders from the corporate, philanthropic, higher education and accreditation communities to discuss quality in undergraduate education. This Conference was sponsored by the Education Commission of the States (ECS), the Johnson Foundation, the National Governors' Association, and the National Conference of State Legislatures. The discussion that took place was based on the assertion that we need substantial improvement in American undergraduate education in order to meet the needs of today's business and industry.
The Conference developed the following list of important characteristics of quality performance of college and university graduates:
Problem-based learning (PBL) techniques help students develop the above skills necessary in order to succeed in their post college careers. Students in PBL courses are challenged to "learn to learn" so that they can achieve their highest potential in their chosen professions. Students work cooperatively in groups, seeking solutions to "real world" problems by asking and answering their own and their peers' questions. In helping to teach each other, students achieve a high level of understanding of the course's concepts.
This issue of ABOUT TEACHING is dedicated to problem-based learning and the many faculty who have pioneered using this powerful teaching method in their classrooms here at the University of Delaware.