Problem Based Learning

Students do not learn much just sitting in classes listening to teachers, memorizing pre-packaged assignments, and spitting out answers. They must talk about what they are learning, write about it, relate it to past experiences, and apply it to their daily lives. They must make what they learn part of themselves. ” Explain how you will conceptualise this principle in your classroom? | There is a saying that goes: “Give a man a fish; you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish; you’ll feed him for a lifetime. ” As an educator, I hold on firmly to saying above.

When I first started teaching, I told myself that I can either be a teacher who is only concerned about what need to be taught or I can be a teacher who is concerned about what and how something is supposed to be taught. I chose the latter. Why? Students had spent more than 12 years of learning in schools where most of the time, they sit and listen to what the teacher is teaching. Little or less participation on their behalf is incorporated during those 12 years. The main objective is to pass 3 ‘big and important’ examinations in 12 years.

Sad to say, they soon forget a big chunk of what they had been learning for the past 12 years immediately after they finish their last paper for SPM. This is because students are only made to remember what they are taught; not to retain them. You can remember information for a specific length of time before you forget about it; but if you can retain that information, you’ll remember it forever. Let’s take mathematic as an example. We were taught how to do simple calculations such as addition since we were 6 years old. We not only learn how to add numbers in class, we also use it in our daily lives too.

In a much simple terms, we practice what we learn in school and incorporate it into our daily lives. We retain the skills to do additions by doing and practicing. What about additional mathematics? Frankly speaking, if I was given a set of additional mathematics questions today, I would not be able to solve even the simplest question. Why? Because I did not use any of the formulas I was taught in school in my daily lives. I did not retain the information. Students are unique. They might not have the same way of learning.

Lecturers and educators must be aware of their student’s ability in order to make the teaching and learning process a success. “Students have different levels of motivation, different attitudes about teaching and learning, and different responses to specific classroom environments and instructional practices. ” (Brent and Felder, 2005) That is why, students learn best when they are incorporated and is actively involved during the learning process. The traditional method of teaching is more concerned on what the student should learn rather than how the student should be learning.

In my class, I use Problem Based Learning (PBL) method. PBL is a new method of learning where there is a balance between what the students should learn and how they should be learning. “This new approach to learning is bringing about new ways in which students are involved in the learning process. Teachers know that students do not learn at their highest potential when they are in a classroom where the teacher stands at the front of the room and gives them knowledge. ” (Utecht, 2003) During class, I encourage my students to speak and share information that they have on the topic.

Before I start my lecture, I would first brainstorm the idea of the topic with my students. Initially, students would be reluctant to participate because they are afraid of saying the wrong answer. I encourage them saying that “if it is an opinion, there is no right or wrong answer”. Students in universities are andragogy learners; they are adult learners. As an adult, they would like to have more control of their own learning. “Andragogy reorients adult educators from educating people to helping them learn.

The methods used may range from isolated instruction within a curriculum or integrated instruction. It may also encompass intentional and unintentional learning situations. ” (Crawford, 2004) This type of students would be more interested to learn if they are given more power and control in the learning process. There are six assumptions on andragogy learners: 1. Adults need to know the reason for learning something (Need to Know) 2. Experience (including error) provides the basis for learning activities (Foundation). 3.

Adults need to be responsible for their decisions on education; involvement in the planning and evaluation of their instruction (Self-concept). 4. Adults are most interested in learning subjects having immediate relevance to their work and/or personal lives (Readiness). 5. Adult learning is problem-centred rather than content-oriented (Orientation). 6. Adults respond better to internal versus external motivators (Motivation). (Malcom Knowles, 1977) I planned and carry out my teaching and learning process using the 6 assumptions as my main guidance.

Most of the time during class, I allow my students to voice out their opinion and share what they have to say on certain topics. I also let them know the objective of the learning and what they will acquire at the end of the class. If they feel that they did not achieve what they should at the end of the lesson, I encourage them to share their problems with their classmates so that they can come up with the solutions together. During my lecturer, I use simple examples which they can easily connect with in their daily lives. I usually share my experience and ask them to share theirs with the class.

It takes the seriousness out of the learning process and students felt more comfortable sharing their problems and experience. For me, a relaxed and simple learning environment will encourage the students to be more active and not be reluctant to join in the discussions. A rigid classroom will make the students as cold as ice. Before I started teaching, I told myself to be the teacher that u have never had; the teacher I want to have but did not. I want my students to them around me and to not be ashamed to tell what they have in mind, because I believe the most valuable knowledge is the knowledge that we shared.

References Brent. R, & Felder M. R. (2005). Understanding students’ differences. Journal of Engineering Education, 94(1), 57-72 Crawford S. R (2004). Andragogy – Malcolm Knowles. Retrieved March 21 from http://academic. regis. edu/ed205/Knowles. pdf Knowles, M. S. (1973). The Adult Learner: A Neglected Species. Houston: Gulf Publishing Company. Utecht R. J. (2003). Problem Based Learning in Student Centred Classroom. Retrieved March 21 from http://www. jeffutecht. com/docs/PBL. pdf