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Thursday, June 23 • 15:00 - 16:00
CON08.06c - Student Motivation in Response to Active Learning: Problem-based Learning in an Active Learning Classroom

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Problem-based learning (PBL) is a self-directed learning method that uses collaborative problem solving to develop critical thinking skills (Barrows & Tamblyn, 1980; Bate et al., 2014; Raiyn & Tilchin, 2015). This session will discuss a pilot project that implemented problem-based learning in an active learning classroom (ALC) for a third year undergraduate course with students of varying subject matter experience and no previous exposure to active learning methods. Groups of 4-6 students were given problems to investigate using online discussion boards and electronic whiteboard technology. This project examined PBL in relation to student motivation and the ALC. Student motivation was measured through self-reflections using the D.E.A.L. method (Ash et al., 2007). In addition, students used a Likert scale to rank their mastery of the course’s learning outcomes, evaluate the ALC technology, and complete a survey that quantified their PBL learning experience. The results revealed a complicated relationship between students’ subject familiarity, motivation, and PBL success. Students’ evaluations of the use of technology to enhance PBL were also mixed and dependent on the activity. Most students acknowledged some benefits of PBL skills however they felt that they learned more from traditional lectures. This session will begin with an overview of the project, and then a discussion will ensue with the following learning outcomes:
  1. Participants will describe what creates an environment where students can develop problem solving skills.

  2. Participants will discuss the importance of student motivation and self-reflection in PBL

  3. Participants will discuss the challenges of engaging students without prior active learning experience, and varying subject matter knowledge.

  4. Participants will articulate the complexity of PBL from the perspective of the instructor and students.


Ash, S., Clayton, P., and Moses (2007). Teaching and learning through critical reflection: An instructors’ guide. Sterling, V.A., Styling Publishing Ltd.

Barrows, H.S., & Tamblyn R.M. (1980). Problem-based learning: An approach to medical education. Springfield IL: Springer.

Bate, E., Hommes, J., Duvivier, R., & Taylor, D. (2014). Problem-based learning (PBL): Getting the most out of your students – Their roles and responsibilities: AMEE Guide No. 84. Medical Teacher, 36,1-12.

Raiyn. J., & Tilchin, O. (2015). Higher-order thinking development through adaptive problem-based learning. Journal of Education and Training Studies, 394, 93-100.


Sherry Fukuzawa

Sherry Fukuzawa is a sessional lecturer III in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

Additional Authors

Cleo Boyd

Cleo Boyd is an educational developer, senior lecturer, and instructional designer in the Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

Joel Cahn

Joel Cahn (not attending) is a PhD candidate in forensic anthropology with the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

Thursday June 23, 2016 15:00 - 16:00
UCC 59

Attendees (28)

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