Problem Based Learning (PBL)
Throughout Summer Scholars the staff applied the principles of Problem Based Learning (PBL) whenever practical. Four mornings a week, the discussion groups used the student problem log to facilitate discussions about the issues.
Problem Based Learning (PBL) is an innovative way of teaching students that turns the conventional classroom upside-down. Students share ideas, facts and identify learning issues, while the instructor facilitates the discussion. The purpose of PBL is to support student inquiry into issues, rather than teachers attempting to impose ideas on them.
Everyone has biases; in PBL students learn to recognize bias in themselves and others. Students are guided to question everything and to go to the original source, rather than depending only on textbooks or secondary references.
The PBL approach prepares students to be productive citizens for the future, not by feeding them facts and theories that may be outdated or biased, but by getting them to learn and think on their own. Students are challenged to take responsibility for their own learning.
Summer Scholars students were asked at the beginning of the week of - Should reclaimed water be used to make snow on the San Francisco Peaks?
Through the PBL process, students develop their own questions, based on what they need to know in order to make a recommendation. Many different ideas came from the PBL sessions, ranging from concern over the sacred value of the mountain to local tribes, to suggestions that the water could be used for the benefit of plants and animals. After students came up with their ideas and questions, they used information from their learning activities, field trips, guest speakers, and independent research to support their recommendations.
By the end of the week, students made recommendations about whether or not snow should be made on the San Francisco Peaks using reclaimed water. Student recommendations for snowmaking can be reviewed on the student web pages.
The Summer Scholars sponsors received several references to assist with implementation of the PBL process in their own classroom.