Problem-Based Learning for Capstone Project Teams: Sharing Research Findings
Recorded: Wednesday, April 17th, 2013 @ 11:00 am - 11:40 am HST
Duration: 40 minutes
The inspiration for conducting case study research aligns with successfully tutoring adult learners to become problem solvers and critical thinkers, ready for technology challenges of the professional business world. Knowing how to think about and solve problems is a skill needed by technology professions. The research followed on the paper presented by Lauridsen at TCC in 2012. Problem-based learning (PBL) is an ideal protocol for facing the challenge. The research question was, “How does facilitated problem-based learning benefit a team of distributed learners when collaborating on designing and producing a practical solution?” The research objective accomplished; it was to observe and gather perceptions about capstone project teams as they: (a) were tutored on the seven steps of the PBL process, (b) collaborated on defining a problem, (c) shared prior and new knowledge, shared critical thinking, (d) decided on a practical course of action, (e) solved the problem and presented their project. The objectives of the case study research were to increase understanding of the dynamics of group problem solving. For the TCC conference session, the presenters will set the stage by explaining the PBL protocol, then sharing their findings.
PBL is a guided process during which learners collectively and progressively collaborate on understanding ill-structured, complex, and real-world scenarios; apply prior and new knowledge to build a practical resolution within a reasonable time frame. In the academic setting, learning opportunities are normally set up to be explicit and mapped to learning outcomes per each course, culminating in the degree. For PBL research, certain case studies need to be set up with vaguely defined goals, ambiguous criteria for evaluating a problem scenario, hidden constraints, alternative pathways toward one or more resolutions, an open-ended agenda for deciding on a best solution given the skill level and incentive of the team members.
The participants were undergraduate and graduate students who have been progressively acquiring technology skills in Computer Information Systems. The twelve week capstone course is last in a series of courses which culminates with an academic degree. Because capstone projects start with open-ended unstructured problems, the course provides an ideal environment for a formal research study. Basing the case study design on capstone experience is an excellent base line for a sincere learning opportunity by the teams. As participants, individuals agreed to provide their perceptions, before the PBL lessons and again after the sequence of tutorial sessions. A pre/post questionnaire was set up on Survey Monkey to record participants’ perceptions about the value received. The presentation slide deck will include many artifacts that supported the research process and a link for attendees to take the online survey.