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  Review, Access, Question, Decide, Report, Reflect









The students are required to conduct three activities and for each activity they are to follow "The Approach" (structure used in the activity).

The three activities all involve students following the structured approach:

Step 1-4 - Problem solving process.
Step 5 - Self-directed research.
Step 6 - Solve and Answer questions and write an individual answer.

For each activity 4 weeks are set aside for the learning process.

The students are required to engage in:

Class discussion in small groups of students, where questions are raised upon exposure to the situation statement, and the students are asked to discuss what they know, what they need to know and what are they going to do. In part to answer these questions they formulate questions for the teacher to answer, and questions for themselves to answer (self-directed learning). The same process is repeated for the external students by Asynchronous Bulletin Board Discussions. Students are expected to conduct their own self-directed learning and search for information or resources that will assist them in problem solving and adding meaning to the information supplied. The level and direction of self-directed research very much depends on the individual learning needs of the student, but such research is expected to occur every week as the problem unfolds.


All the activities nominated form an integral part of the activities, i.e. step 6.

The order of the activities is aligned with the content of the curriculum so that the students are exposed to problems and cases that are relevant to the curriculum being taught at the time. Also the additional information required to solve the problem (i.e. scaffolding) is supplied as the situation unfolds and develops.





Resources provided to students are:

  • Unit handbook describing the unit and assessment tasks at the beginning of the unit.
  • Online content – instructor-provided reading resources and summaries of curriculum.
  • Structured outlines with reading material and directions to Internet resources and library books.
  • Study guide supplied as hard copy to students

Students are encouraged to search for their own resources in addition to the resources provided (Step 5 the approach also encourages students to access material via a variety of media.)


The importance of the resource set is that it provides an overview of the disciplinary content of the unit and the types of understandings that the instructor would like the students to develop and be able to adapt to the particular situation at hand or to new situations.





1. The learning guide
"The Approach" is a significant scaffold/support provided to the students. More specifically, the Approach:

1. meets the situation (scenario);
2. defines the situation;
3. gathers the facts:

  • identify relevant experience and knowledge;
  • identify what you need to know (further information and learning);
  • identify potential information/learning resources (place ideas in 5);

4. generates relevant questions from the previous section:

  • for you to go away and answer before next class;
  • for me to go away and answer in next class.

(Steps 1 to 4 will be covered in class for the on-campus students. For the off-campus students steps 3 and 4 are covered online via the Bulletin Board)

5. Research required (Type of…);
6. an individual student 6-page write-up where they:

  • rephrase the situation (refine the original question statement);
  • generate answers (select possible, probable and preferable explanations);
  • advocate answers (choose the "best" answer and justify it).

2. Online discussion
This allows the students to raise questions for which they realise more information will enhance their understanding of the situation and how it is developing. Also by reading other people’s questions they can come to a shared idea about the situation and this tends to affirm what they believe is going on, so usually builds their confidence that they are on the right track to solving the problem.

3. Face-to-face class
Internal students are also supported by attending and participating in class where relevant material is discussed.

4. Role of instructor
The role of the instructor is very important, and supports the student learning in several ways: by providing instruction on the learning process as well as resources to assist the learning; and by providing feedback on student performance which is completed in a timely fashion, and posted on the Bulletin Board within 2 weeks of the assignment submission. The students also receive individual guidance on the marking sheet.

On-campus students meet the situation (weeks 2, 6 and 10 of the semester) in class and discuss it in small groups of around six people following steps1 to 4 of the approach outlined above. A week later in class the teacher provides a reply, which answers and summarises the student questions.

Off-campus students follow the same approach, except that they discuss as individuals the questions they would like to ask of the teacher on the Bulletin Board in the week following the introduction to the situation. The teacher then responds and on the Bulletin Board provides a reply, which answers and summarises the student questions. On-campus students also have a "dry run" early in the learning event with a situation that is probably more familiar to them before going through the approach in class that exemplifies the thinking and questioning skills required. This is also done to relieve their anxiety in a learning activity they are not familiar with.

The off-campus students have some explanation of PBL in the handbook (hard copy and online), but it is necessary to have a follow-up session on what PBL is and how it supports learning, as there are critical misconceptions and misunderstandings amongst the students. The third activity of PBL is introduced and questions raised are responded to. All statements and replies are available as hard copy as well as online.


Some of the hard copy material could be optional.

The significance of the support strategies is that without them the students would have no scaffolding to support their learning, and for those (the majority) who have never experienced PBL this aspect is very important. The support framework enables students to build confidence in their problem-solving ability especially for those students who are less familiar with the content material and its meaning.


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