By then end of this module, you will be able to: 

  1. Identify the characteristics of Inquiry Based methods;
  2. Discriminate between Case, Problem or Project Based Learning;
  3. Select and design  tasks based on evidence based guidelines;
  4. Use your designed task to engage your learners;
  5. Evaluate the design of your task in order to improve it if found necessary.

Introduction to Inquiry Based Learning

This is a cluster of strongly student centred approaches to learning and teaching that are driven by inquiry or research.  Inquiry based approaches include problem based, project based, and case based learning.  These approaches are question or problem driven to foster deep understanding, and involve students’ directed investigations (Aditomo, Goodyear, Bliuc, & Ellis, 2013).



Problem Based Learning (PBL)

PBL is an active instructional method based on the investigation of real world scenarios that fosters deep long-term learning.  The focus is on process rather than knowledge acquisition, and makes emphasis on peer or self-assessment as opposed to teacher assessment. Its historical origins date back to the late 1960s at the medical school of McMaster University in Canada (Blackburn, 2015).

The following video will give you a general introduction to PBL:

Benefits:

PBL is both a pedagogical approach and a curriculum design methodology that concurrently develops higher-order thinking and disciplinary knowledge. It engages learners in active role play as problem solvers and provides a deeper, richer learning experience by confronting students with real world situation (Blackburn, 2015).

Implementation Tips:

The following are some general guidelines to keep in mind when designing a PBL task:

  1. Formulate a list of course topics, and identify a problem that encompasses relevant concepts in the course.  Prepare an introduction to the problem.            
  2. Determine the objectives of the activity and reach a consensus of success criteria with students if possible (blended learning context). In a fully online delivery, prepare an assessment rubric with clearly identified success criteria.
  3. Introduce the problem highlighting complexities or cause and effect relationships.  The problem must be ill-structured and not amenable to a single solution. The point is to provide authentic problems that students will be faced with outside the classroom. For example, the exercise is likely to be centred on issues or events facing their local communities. A suggestion is to employ a contemporary issue, have an engaging narrative style and perhaps employ a bit of humour. Variations of the problem may include role playing activities in scenarios, story construction in the form of scenarios, amongst others.
  4. Suggestions for evaluation: Establish a context and culture of high expectations, collaboration and evaluation by attempting to use any of the following:
    1. Identify criteria, agreed on by everyone in the group for evaluating process.
    2. Ask questions to evaluate progress toward meeting criteria, using many approaches to gathering information and leading to recommendations for action.
    3. Unite the learners, teachers, and industry leaders as shared stakeholders in the success of the project
  5. Provide  a space for students to present their results, provide peer feedback, and grade each other using the assessment rubric.

 

Insights:

A suggestion is to allow students to simulate different roles to analyse the problem from different perspectives. Students in problem learning classes report that they are more satisfied with their learning experiences, and have more positive attitudes toward the curriculum.  PBL makes students more likely to learn on their own, and increases their interest in the subject matter.  However, student performance has been found to be identical to traditional classrooms, even if they may retain knowledge over greater periods of time.

Supportive Materials

Now, you can work on designing your tasks, resources and support. Click on the following links to access guides to support your design process:

CREATE

Write your Learning Objectives              Design a Learning Task/Assessment 

    Create an Assessment Rubric                           Evaluate Your Design

Readings

  1. Blackburn, G. (2015). Innovative eLearning: Technology Shaping Contemporary Problem Based Learning: A Cross-Case Analysis. Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 12(2)
  2. Stanford University’s Speaking of Teaching: Problem Based Learning 


Project Based Learning

Project Based Learning is an instructional approach that engages learners in active inquiry  to develop the skills and knowledge necessary for the development of an authentic product.  Project based learning forces students to analyse a problem but focuses on getting learners to collaborate on creating a tangible solution to that problem over an extended period of time.

Are you still confused about the difference between Problem and Project Based Learning? Ok, here is a video to exemplify the differences:

Benefits:

Project based learning promotes the development of skills and abilities involved in the management and production of products in the real world.  Given that it should be based on an authentic task, it promotes engagement, and critical thought process of a practitioner.

Implementation Tips:

The following are some general guidelines to help you design your tasks:

  1. Start with a clear specification of an end product.  Make sure the creation of this project applies several of the main concepts in the subject, and allows for the implementation of relevant tools used in the discipline.                                            
  2. The project should clearly state the success criteria, but should leave enough room for students to practice their self-determination skills, and use their full creativity in the details.
  3. In working to produce the desired product, students may encounter little problems, which need to be solved.  Ensure you allocate time for timely feedback and guidance. Provide the opportunity for collaboration and discussion if applicable. For more information see “insights”.
  4. Assess students on the level and depth of application of all terminology, concepts, elements and tools involved.

 

Insights

The final product in project based learning is created over a long period of time, in fact, it may may take the entire semester! This does not imply that you should not assign any homework, or cover any new content.  Ideally, the project will include a range of topics included in your curriculum. So, take the time to link any appropriate content to add depth, and use the project as a telar that weaves in all the relevant topics in your subject. Every now and then, ask learners to report on the progress of their project, and answer any lingering doubts.  Another suggestion is to open a thread in a forum or assign specific times for “chatting” time to resolve doubts.

Supportive Materials

Now, you can work on designing your tasks, resources and support. Click on the following links to access guides to support your design process:

CREATE

Write your Learning Objectives              Design a Learning Task/Assessment 

    Create an Assessment Rubric                           Evaluate Your Design

Readings

  1. Aditomo, A., Goodyear, P., Bliuc, A.-M., & Ellis, R. A. (2013). Inquiry-based learning in higher education: principal forms, educational objectives, and disciplinary variations. Studies in Higher Education, 38(9), 1239-1258. doi:10.1080/03075079.2011.61658
  2. Svihla, V., and Reeve, R., (2016) Facilitating Problem Framing in Project-Based Learning. The Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning.


Case Based Learning 

Case based learning (CBL) is an instructional method closely related to the more common Problem Based Learning. It is an andragogical approach centred around contextualised, ‘‘real life’’ questions or problems, thereby promoting authentic learning. Cases are generally written as problems that provide the student with a background, and supportive resources are made available to allow for a more in depth exploration of the topic at hand.

In order to understand CBL, let’s look at how lecturers at the Harvard Business School implement this approach:

Benefits

CBL promotes critical thinking and deep processing, helping learners to develop a collaborative, team based approach to their education. It allows for hypothesis generation, the consolidation/integration of learning, increases intrinsic and extrinsic motivation allowing for individualised learning. This approach also encourages self-evaluation and critical reflection while promoting scientific inquiry.

Implementation Tips

The following are some general guidelines to help you design your tasks:

  1. Start by providing students with real case narratives that are written to exemplify how concepts/theories can be applied. Include questions to help focus discussion
  2. Organise learners to discuss in groups – in class or through an online forum, blog or video conferencing system.  Learners should be guided to actively seek information in the case, organise it, analyse it, interpret it and draw conclusions or recommendations.
  3. Have students present their results to other groups to provide constructive criticism.  Learners working in cases should defend and reach conclusion of their own.  Another possibility is to require students to create a podcast, a video, or a visual representation of their findings.

The following video provides a demonstration of CBL:

Insights

Use well written cases that frame a problem that is open to interpretation and that describes different perspectives of a realistic and relevant context. Instruct your learners to prepare in advance to encourage more informed, creative problem solving. Monitor to balance the influence of more outspoken students, and entice more in depth group discussion. Collaborative, online note taking or concept mapping are suggested as methods to encourage cognitive engagement.

Supportive Materials

Now, you can work on designing your tasks, resources and support. Click on the following links to access guides to support your design process:

CREATE

Write your Learning Objectives              Design a Learning Task/Assessment 

    Create an Assessment Rubric                           Evaluate Your Design

Reading

  1. Aditomo, A., Goodyear, P., Bliuc, A.-M., & Ellis, R. A. (2013). Inquiry-based learning in higher education: principal forms, educational objectives, and disciplinary variations. Studies in Higher Education, 38(9), 1239-1258. doi:10.1080/03075079.2011.61658
  2. Williams, B. (2005). Case based learning—a review of the literature: is there scope for this educational paradigm in prehospital education? : BMJ Group.

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