1. hokieinstructor
    October 12, 2020 @ 2:54 pm

    I am glad you brought up your personal experience with issues related to PBL. I agree that some students are more team players than others and that is not a bad thing. In the classroom, as long as the instructor is clear that your grade is not tied to other people’s contributions, that should be enough to reassure students. I also think that PBL requires a lot of prep work from the instructor to make sure the problem is explained well. If students don’t think the scenario is realistic or well-thought-out, they may disengage. As this mode of teaching becomes more common, they may even compare PBL between instructors. If you are following a teacher that is exemplary, they may be less than impressed with you without proper prep.

  2. Zhenyu Yao
    October 12, 2020 @ 9:06 pm

    Your personal experience related to PBL is really impressive as it proposes one important question that how to make sure students can understand and learn very well in PBL. As an instructor for a course this semester, I often provide some case-based problems to students but it seems students can not link the problem to the knowledge explained in slides. You remind me about selecting proper examples which could enable students to have a better idea about the cased-based problems.

  3. brittanyshaughnessy
    October 13, 2020 @ 12:51 am

    Hi Kmyost,
    Thanks for your post! I appreciated your critical prespective on problem-based learning (PBL). It is often easy to hop on the bandwagon of a pedagogical style when you have not experienced the style yourself. It sounds like you experienced PBL in a general education course, where the curriculum was streamlined. The instructor may have been responsible for coming up with their own examples, but they may not have been grounded in much. Without an explanation on how the material applies to reality, it is often difficult to put together the pieces yourself. I understand your frustration, especially as one who dislikes group projects myself. I also agree with your notion of a semester-long PBL project, where the semester’s focus is on the real-world issue. I do believe that it is harder to implement PBL into a discipline where it is not the immediate thought to bring a real-world example. In communication this works, but it may not be applicable to all.

    • Sara Lamb Harrell
      October 16, 2020 @ 1:16 am

      Hi Brittany & Kaleigh,

      I wanted to tag behind Brittany’s comment here because I, too, appreciated reading your criticism of PBL because it was grounded in your experiences. Your list of struggles was helpful because it gives insight into things to try and avoid to keep students from suffering ill-conceived ideas/PBL scaffolding and so I thank you for sharing that and being frank about how it made you feel. I like your ideas about creating an engineering course with a series of small projects with seminars interspersed so that students get exposure to notes, handouts, and references that they all would need to see. This sounds like a good balance between theory and practical problems set up in a format that will deliver both.

  4. shoagland
    October 13, 2020 @ 7:08 pm

    Thanks for your post! I appreciate your critique of your PBL experience in undergraduate school. I am also in civil engineering and had a similar negative experience during my senior design course. I also worked in industry for a few years and referenced course material/textbooks as well, so I agree with you that too much of an emphasis on PBL would have been detrimental to the education I received. However, I think that I was also woefully underprepared for consulting. It would have been nice to receive some practical training from those in industry or with prior industry experience as to what the consultant-client model looks like. My 3+ years of work experience was an invaluable tool that I hope to carry with me as a professor to better train my students.

  5. Jonilda
    October 22, 2020 @ 4:13 am

    I am with you on the challenges that come from PBL, especially when students don’t have the tools to work on projects. I am TA for a class that uses PBL and I have greatly enjoyed it. It’s a business analytics course where students are presented with real companies and the professor has delivered step-by-step structure and guidance on how to set up the teams and have trained students since the beginning of the semester for the role they carry. Students’ feedback has been great on this experience.

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