Why now? Faculty are already overwhelmed with remote teaching demands and other demands due to COVID 19.
Consider what students will expect when we eventually return to face-to-face courses. We have shown students that discipline content is deliverable remotely with much of it already recorded for them to use at their convenience. Given this new easy access to course content, what will motivate students to attend in-person classes? Perhaps a sense of belonging; of forming connections with faculty and peers; the chance to engage in problem solving, in connecting different ideas, and perspectives, in applying course content. We must consider how our classroom teaching may need to change post-pandemic away from an emphasis on content delivery and toward content application.
Do we have data on what students in our area really want? Or is this major push to PBL based on what other colleges are doing across the country?
We plan to add several general survey items about PBL to a larger campus survey for distribution this semester. As the PBL initiative begins to take shape, CASL will eventually need to consider conducting student focus groups to assess interests, needs, and challenges in relation to PBL.
Interestingly, most of the examples of PBL that we have found occur at the elementary and secondary school levels. This suggests that in the near future, students may come to expect PBL, arriving on campus with some basic PBL skills. This also suggests the potential for CASL to be forward thinking and to distinguish itself from other similar institutions through PBL.
How will the program be implemented? Top down - from the Dean’s office? From disciplines and programs? At the department level?
The task force is composed solely of CASL faculty. Marty has provided us with a charge, but he is leaving the rest to us. Although the initial idea came from the Dean’s office, PBL was already occurring throughout the college. The committee is working to determine several different umbrella structures to support and grow PBL. The white paper that we write will outline these different approaches. Rather than recommending a single approach, we plan to describe several possible approaches along with an assessment of each approach’s strengths and weaknesses. At this point we do not envision the PBL as coming from any one place, rather we see it as growing throughout CASL, strongly supported by the Dean’s office, but very much a faculty driven effort.