Abstract

Problem-based learning (PBL) is an instructional approach in which students learn problem-solving and teamwork skills by collaboratively solving complex real-world problems. Research shows that PBL improves student knowledge and retention, motivation, problem-solving skills, and the ability to skillfully apply knowledge in new and novel situations. One of the challenges faced by students accustomed to traditional didactic methods, however, is acclimating to the PBL process in which problem parameters are often ill-defined and ambiguous, often leading to frustration and disengagement with the learning process. To address this problem, the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE), funded by the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (NSF-ATE) program, has created and field tested a comprehensive series of industry-based multimedia PBL “Challenges” designed to scaffold the development of students’ problem solving and critical thinking skills. In this paper, we present the results of a pilot study conducted to examine student reactions to the PBL Challenges in photonics technician education. During the fall 2012 semester, students (n=12) in two associate degree level photonics courses engaged in PBL using the PBL Challenges. Qualitative and quantitative methods were used to assess student motivation, self-efficacy, critical thinking, metacognitive self-regulation, and peer learning using selected scales from the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ). Results showed positive gains in all variables. Follow-up focus group interviews yielded positive themes supporting the effectiveness of PBL in developing the knowledge, skills and attitudes of photonics technicians.

© 2013 OSA, SPIE, IEEE, ICO

PDF Article
More Like This
Problem-based learning in photonics technology education: Assessing student learning

Nicholas Massa, Michele Dischino, Judith Donnelly, and Fenna Hanes
ETB4 Education and Training in Optics and Photonics (ETOP) 2009

PHOTON PBL: Problem-Based Learning in Photonics Technology Education

Nicholas Massa, Richard Audet, Judith Donnelly, Fenna Hanes, and Marijke Kehrhahn
EMC1 Education and Training in Optics and Photonics (ETOP) 2007

Why do I need to know this? Optics/Photonics problem-based learning in the math classroom

Matthew J. Donnelly, Judith F Donnelly, and Stephanie Donnelly
1045209 Education and Training in Optics and Photonics (ETOP) 2017