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Developing a Sustainable Approach to Problem Based Learning in Chemistry - Dylan P Williams
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Developing a Sustainable Approach to Problem Based Learning in Chemistry - Dylan P Williams

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A short presentation on the development of a sustainable approach to problem based learning in chemistry at the University of Leicester. Originally presented at the Variety in Chemistry Education …

A short presentation on the development of a sustainable approach to problem based learning in chemistry at the University of Leicester. Originally presented at the Variety in Chemistry Education Conference in 2009.

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  • Problem delivered via a wiki accessible via the VLE (Blackboard)Most deliverables were group tasks, there was one individual task.
  • Problem delivered via a wiki accessible via the VLE (Blackboard)Most deliverables were group tasks, there was one individual task.
  • Again students formed strong social ties at an early stage of their education – low drop out rate.Again PBL has not had an adverse effect on student performance.Students seem more satisfied with the level of contact with facilitation but some students still dislike any period of waiting.A comprehensive tutor guide has been developed which will greatly help other institutions use this material.Some students are still worried about the fact that a lack of effort from other students may adversely affect their own grade. There were still some objections to the use of the scenario.

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  • 1. Department of ChemistryDeveloping a Sustainable Approach toProblem Based Learning in Chemistry Dr. Dylan Williams dpw10@le.ac.uk
  • 2. Since 2007 the Department of Chemistryat Leicester has introduced PBL contentinto some undergraduate courses.Between 2007-09 the Department wasthe lead institution of Strand 3.2 of theCFOF project (funded by the HEFCE &managed by the RSC).This presentation focuses on thechanges we have made to our PBLapproach since 2007.
  • 3. To investigate potential benefits of theintroduction of PBL including:Greater appreciation of chemistry in awider context.Increased student engagement and peerteaching.Development of transferable skills.Improved understanding of connectionsbetween different areas within the subject.Improved student retention.
  • 4. 18 PBL sessions were introduced in to acore level1 inorganic-physical modulereplacing 8 lectures and 7 workshops.Students worked in small (5-6) groups onweek long problems (2 × 1 hr sessions).Learning supported by Blackboard VLE.Facilitators guided the learning process byengaging students in dialogue.Facilitators guided 3 groups per session.
  • 5. Facilitators gave feedback at the end ofevery problem - Further modificationsallowed until the end of the problemscenario.Final individual marks took into accountthe group mark, facilitator comments, themark from individual essay and peer reviewsurvey responses.
  • 6. ‘A Tiny Adventure’ (weeks 1-6) - studentsacted as scientific advisors to a moviestudio.States of Matter, Size & Scale, Bonding, etc.Spectroscopy based problems (weeks 7-10).
  • 7. Students formed strong bonds with groupmembers – low drop out rate.PBL did not adversely affect the moduleaverage – encouraged weaker students towork.Most students liked the format.Overall, the introduction of PBL into theDepartment was successful.
  • 8. PBL is resource intensive - Contacttime, number of staff & suitable teachingspace.Structure of the problems made it difficultto give students detailed feedback toreflect on.Students dislike waiting to a facilitatorduring contact sessions.Some students felt the scenario got in theyway of learning.
  • 9. Introduce longer problems – combineexisting problems to create a series oftwo week long problems & use the finalsession to give detailed feedback.Improve the student access to facilitators– facilitators only work with 2 groups persession.Cut some film dialogue in the scenario.Produce robust assessment criteria &facilitator guide – detailed guideprepared.
  • 10. Session 1 – Planning session run inmuch the same way as 2007/08.Session 2 – Group progress meeting:students must give a short summary ofwhat research they have done since S1.Between S2 and S3 students upload adraft answer which facilitators check.Session 3 – Each group receivesdetailed feedback from the facilitator –this is a major improvement on theprevious year.
  • 11. Individual essay replaced with peerassessment task – each student marks apart of another group’s wiki.Peer review survey simplified in order tomake it easier to scale marks.
  • 12. Students spend more time with facilitatorsduring sessions (in 07/08 - facilitator spent18 hrs with 3 groups, in 08/09 - 14 hrs with2 groups in 08/09)More use of PhD students as facilitators –reduces the teaching cost.Improved peer review survey is mucheasier for staff to interpret.Students get a chance to see worksubmitted by other groups.
  • 13. Answers Percent AnsweredThe PBL was OK but we often had to wait to see our facilitator and 60%this wasted timeBecause PBL was done in teams it was a good way to meet 58.5%people and make friendsI thought the PBL topics were integrated well with the module 56.9%Doing PBL in teams was useful, I found it helpful to talk about some 41.9%of the concepts with other students and PBL forced me to do this.PBL made me think about the course material in a different way 41.9%I thought the PBL did not improve my understanding of chemistry at 20%allI thought the PBL problems did not integrate well with the rest of the 13.8%moduleI didnt mind the problems but I did not like working in a group it 6.1%would be better if you worked on your own.
  • 14. Dr Dai Davies, Prof Derek Raine, DrJonny Woodward, Dr Sarah Symons andall staff at the University of LeicesterDepartment of Chemistry and Centre fori-Science.Dr Katy McKenzie and all facilitatorsStrand 3.2 Partners