Johnny has been teaching Biology in a Secondary school for many years. Having graduated in Environmental Science, he is very interested in fostering environmental conservation among his students. Notwithstanding his desire, he realizes difficulties in eliciting students’ motivation in the lessons, because there are many concepts and terms to learn. By chance Johnny finds something interesting from a website, suggesting the use of scenarios or real world issues to establish a task for students to work on.
Johnny comes up with a scenario relating to water quality as below:
“The fish in part of the Tai Po Lam Tsuen River have found to be dying, your company is hired to find out what is causing the deaths, where is the pollutant and what measures could be employed to mitigate the situation….”. He then asks his students to first clarify the issue with him and discuss among themselves. They are also encouraged to list out points which might relate to the tasks and literature search is allowed. After that, small groups are formed and students start to brainstorm ideas/findings and interact with teacher as well. As a result, Johnny realizes that students are highly motivated to learn while their performance in solving the real case problems exceed his expectations.
In the 1960s Problem-Based Learning (PBL) was first applied in medical education to develop problem-solving skills and bring learning closer to real medical problems.
PBL is an instructional method that involves active learning. The main features of this approach are:
PBL can be thought of as a combination of cognitive and social constructivist theories, as developed by Piaget and Vygotsky.
A set of instructional principles were derived by Savery and Duffy (1995), respectively
Conditions that facilitate PBL include: (Walton & Matthews 1989)
According to Schmidt and Moust (1989), a systematic procedure are required for students during the PBL process.
Once new questions are proposed in the process of exchanging information, the group may take up the PBL process again but start with the fourth step with a deeper level of understanding. Finally the last step aims to integrate the knowledge acquired into a comprehensive explanation for the phenomena or events.