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Seven principles of effective case design for a problem-based curriculum

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Abstract

Cases are the driving force behind students' independent study in problem-based learning. Evidently, the nature of student learning in problem-based learning is to a large extent dependent on the quality of cases presented to students. This implies that student learning can be improved by controlling the quality of cases. Several studies have been conducted to assess the effectiveness of cases. These studies provide us with evaluative tools, but not with principles for effective case design. More general research on learning and cognition has brought into reach some findings from which principles for effective case design can be deduced. In this article seven principles emerging from this research are outlined and for each of the principles an example is given of an effective or ineffective case.
... It must not be confused with problem-solving, which is perhaps why many presume that SDL can be restricted to a session. Many excellent reviews describe how the PBL process fosters SDL skills [28][29][30]. The learning strategies used in these methods emphasize active learning, self-assessment, metacognition, and reflection. ...
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... These questions then motivate students to become independent self-learners. The scenarios require students to search individually for relevant literature that can be used to find the problem solutions (Dolmans et al. 1997). ...
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Chapter
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Two experiments assessed effects of activation of prior knowledge through small-group discussion. Subjects were given a description of natural phenomena and were asked to elaborate on possible explanations for them. In Experiment 1, small groups of subjects were presented with a problem describing the behavior of a blood cell in pure water and in a salt solution. No additional text was studied. The experimental subjects produced more than twice as many propositions about osmosis (i.e. the biological process explaining the blood cell's behavior) as a control group produced. Experiment 2 investigated effects of problem analysis on subsequent text processing for subjects with imprecise prior knowledge (novices) and subjects with precise knowledge (experts). Recall of the text showed considerable facilitative effects of problem analysis. Results are explained in terms of faster accessibility of prior knowledge and better integration of new information into explanatory models that may exist before, or are actively constructed during, problem analysis.
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In 1974, Congress directed the National Institute of Education to perform a general examination of compensatory education. Included in that legislation was the spe­ cific directive to conduct a detailed study of the effectiveness of materials and pro­ cedures for meeting the educational needs of individual children. As a result of that Congressional mandate, NIE requested "proposals for the design of a study to as­ sess the effectiveness of individualize d instruction as it is currently used by com­ pensatory programs in schools" (NIE, 1975, p. 4). In that request for proposals, the NIE
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Data from three sources (self‐reports of students, review of accreditation and program evaluation documents, and library circulation statistics) supported the hypothesis that students in a problem‐based learning (PBL) curriculum with significant teacher‐centered components nevertheless acquire behaviors reflecting self‐directed learning skills. These PBL students exhibited differences in the extent to which their learning was self‐directed when compared to lecture‐based students. The learning process and features of this partially teacher‐directed, PBL program that fostered the development of self‐directed learning are discussed. Development of these skills depended on the curriculum's adherence to the use of student‐generated learning issues as a guide for defining content to be learned, but also on several other factors.
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