Since I was a former math teacher, I was interested on employing different instructional methods that engage my students in learning process. The methods helped me to convey concepts and mathematical theories to them. I have learned more about different instructional methods, delivery mods, media attributes, etc. during my studies as a graduate student in instructional design and technology field. My major has been assisting me acquire valuable experience and applicable knowledge and skills essential for being a good teacher.
Thus, from learning and applying different instructional methods, I realize how problem-based learning (PBL) strategy is powerful strategy. PBL is derivative from Constructivism Theory that supports the idea of constructing knowledge by students through their experiences and interactions with the world, not through hearing someone gives a lecture. PBL based on this theory relies on students to think deeply and be cooperative students. It requires students to work together to solve problems through real-world experiences. It is designed to engage all students, even those who typically struggle.
PBL usually involves four steps:
- Presentation of problem
- Group development of theories
- Individual development of solutions
- Group comparison and evaluation of solutions
I find this approach fits well with teaching math especially because students usually complain about learning math and find it boring. That because they often cannot see a connection between what they’re learning and anything that matters to them in real world. For example, some students don’t really understand math word problem when a teacher tries to explain it. However, if they were faced with a math problem in their everyday life (say, trying to figure out the solutions, asking each other questions), they might understand it better. So, a teacher can give the students math problems and have them work together to figure it out. The teacher responsibility in this scenario is to support, guide, scaffold and assist students with supplies, materials, and resources.
As a student in IDT in one of my classes, I have developed a project based on Constructivism Theory. I was thinking about a problem that can be solved by using PBL strategy. So, from my experience as a former middle math teacher I found that solving mathematical word problem was a challenge for most of my students. Sometimes students read a problem and use the operation that the class has just been practicing, or they simply guess which operation to use. So, I have designed a lesson about solving mathematical word problems. The lesson was E-learning module based on PBL. The target audience was all 6th grade students especially who are struggling with grasping the concept of mathematical word problem. In fact, the beauty of applying problem-based learning strategy in solving mathematical word problems is to connect mathematical concepts with real challenges and issues that students may face in their lives. The lesson was a good experience to me, and I have received valuable feedback form my professor.
Finally, beside the main benefit of using PBL is engaging students in the real-world experience, the students use different skills to solve the problem that are necessary for life-long success.