PBL: learning in 7 steps phase 1 pre discussion (group) phase 2 (individual) phase 3 post discussion (group) understand material divergent convergent individual synthesis step 1 clarify text and terms step 2 formulate problem statement(s) step 3 problem analysis step 4 inventory of problem and solutions step 5 formulating self study objectives step 6 self study step 7 synthesis and conclusion
Explain the meaning of difficult phrases and words in the text ask for clarification yourself After this phase every group member should be able to read the material in the same way - which is not the same as fully understanding everything!
a crucial stage ask yourselves " What's the real problem here? " one central problem, or several (seemingly?) unrelated problems... (group members') may propose different problem definitions you'll need as much input from all group members as possible formulate problems in an 'answerable' format (listing questions is a good start in this step). Make good use of the whiteboard and/or flipover sheets!
Don't forget: This is a 'questions-only' step, there will be room for answers in the next step! i.e. asking questions everyone already knows the answers to is rather futile, and a waste of valuable time - look for the real (underlying) problems!
time to get inspired try to get as many possible explanations relevant to the formulated problem(s) allow everyone to add to the discussion is important the whiteboard/flipover sheet is an invaluable tool ' brainstorming' is the method used here to generate relevant notions, ideas, hints etc.
time to assess the results of the analysis so far let's add structure to the insights find what pieces of the puzzle are still missing what problems have been solved, and what is still unclear? Often problem statements have been partially addressed agree whether proposed solutions and/or explanations are satisfactory. Of course awareness of the level of the students and the educational objectives is important here; sometimes a thorough understanding of a theoretical explanation suffices, sometimes solutions need to be implementation-ready!
formulate a clear set of objectives for the individual self-study activities rephrase unanswered problem statements such that they reflect the 'missing knowledge' determined in step 4. self-study-objectives should make clear what needs to be done (researched/measured/understood etc.), should provide an indication of when to be satisfied and stop studying! S.M.A.R.T. formulation could be useful here. add an indication of sources to use as a starting point Make sure the set of objectives is complete (i.e. they ensure a solution of the problem in the final step).
group members individually get to work. Each sets out to pursue all study objectives to guarantee a full understanding of the problem and to ensure a fruitful 'comparing of notes' in the last step. Planning and devising an effective study strategy (especially w.r.t. use of sources ) are important skills during this step! Do not lose sight of the main goal (solving the problem(s) from step 2)!
Each member presents his/her findings for each of the objectives. a moment for asking each other in-depth questions and testing gained insights by explaining them to the group. Discussing inconsistencies and solving confusion takes most time To conclude the group asks itself " Have we found a satisfactory solution to our problem? ” aim is to agree on explanations/answers found, and on detail and depth of understanding. When unsatisfied, the group may of course reformulate further study objectives instead of concluding the PBL task!