Monday, 11 March 2013

B6: A working environment for Problem Based Learning facilitators

Palitha Edirisingha and Arunangsu Chatterjee
University of Leicester and Plymouth University, UK

Piaget challenged the simplistic notions of learning based upon behaviourist theories, which portrayed the learner as a passive recipient to be conditioned. Piaget argued that: when an individual is involved in 'self learning' or true learning, the net consequence is that the individual is inventing knowledge. When an individual understands, the individual generalises and invents with the knowledge that is understood. This essentially requires the learner to actively participate in the learning process with support and collaboration from the teacher and other peers.

Problem based learning (PBL) is an approach that shares the principles referred to by Piaget. Within PBL a 'trigger' plays an important role. Its a stimulus provided to facilitate learning and is provided by the facilitator/teacher or the domain expert. This trigger or set of triggers are conceptualised/designed and provided or embedded by the domain expert within a tangible or simulated setting. The authors, based on their experience and evidence with the EU LLP project SCENE ( believe that majority of domain experts find themselves in a difficult position while devising and designing triggers for supporting the learning process of the leaners/students.

Sharples and Anastopoulou state that, 'technological support, when coupled with appropriate design of activities and management of the learning environment, can enable inquiry learning experiences that are engaging, authentic and personally relevant'. The authors view these facilitators/teachers/domain experts switching roles while they themselves learn about 'PBL'. The authors seek to propose an 'PBL working environment' for the domain experts who assumes the role of learners (learning how to facilitate PBL) in order to learn and fine tune their own approach towards facilitating PBL.

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