PBL Approach in Web-Based Instruction

Article excerpt

Web-Based Instruction is increasingly being recognized as a means of teaching and learning. In dietetics, the interactions between drugs and nutrients are complex due to the wide variety of drugs and their mechanism and interactions with nutrients. How to help student professionals acquired necessary skills and knowledge is important in a dietetic training program. This paper proposed an integrated problem-based learning (PBL) approach in a web-based context to help students acquire knowledge. Important aspects of the PBL framework such as the use of problem sets, instructional contents, basic knowledge, exploration, facilitator, and scaffolding were discussed. The application of the PBL approach to a web-based instruction was implemented and evaluated. Students' responses were gathered from different aspects, including: instructional functions, use of resources, use of discussion, and assignment.

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PBL has been adopted for the preparation of professionals in fields as diverse as medicine, engineering, law, and business. Its characteristic focus on the presentation of authentic cases as the starting point for learning has substantially enhanced the students' motivation to learn and augmented their ability to integrate knowledge from foundation disciplines in pursuit of a solution to practical professional problems (Albion & Gibson, 2000).

The main objectives of PBL are to develop the skills of self-directed learning, professional reasoning, and decision-making within an easily retrievable knowledge base. This task-oriented approach organizes the curriculum around a series of cases profiling dilemmas of practice, which student professionals read, diagnose, discuss and explore strategies for solving these problems.

The PBL approach emphasizes on experiential learning organized around the investigation and resolution of messy, real-world problems. Web-based technology can be used as a powerful tool for locating and organizing information, and a means of delivering and presenting a solution. The use of Internet can be considered as a way of "foraging for information or targeted hunting for specific information" in a PBL approach (Sage, 2000).

Several examples have shown successful integration of web-based technology with PBL, where students were provided with opportunities to use the Internet to search problem solution as well as to contact experts (Milbury & Silva, 1988; Sage, 2000). Using Internet has potential impact on students' experience of learning in a PBL environment in terms of electronic cooperation (Reznich & Werner, 2001). Particularly in science, mathematics, and social studies, students were inspired to learn, and organize visually their growing and changing understanding of the problems (Sage, 2000).

In light of enhancing students' necessary skills and knowledge in PBL, students are provided with opportunities to gather and analyze information about their topics, compare other cases with the specific attribute of their own problem, and develop a best-practice approach to the task (Harwell & McCampbell, 2002). Students are encouraged to take responsibility for their projects, develop a suitable plan, and use the Internet as a research and problem-solving tool that allows information to be retrieved quickly to facilitate discussion among members and synthesis of knowledge.

With the advent of web-based learning technology, students are facing new change in perceiving knowledge and setting new goals to manage today's world knowledge. The integration of PBL approach in solving realistic problems might add potential enrichment to a web-based instruction. Specifically, the purposes of this research were to (1) develop a web-based instruction employing PBL to enhance students active learning,, (2) study how students perceive and experience in the PBL approach of web-based context, and (3) evaluate the learning in terms of instructional functions, use of resources, use of discussion, and assignment. …