Problem-Based and Experiential Learning: Engaging Students in an Undergraduate Physical Education Module
Bethell, Sally, Morgan, Kevin, Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sports and Tourism Education
The aim of this study was to employ a combined problem-based learning (PBL) and experiential learning theory (ELT) methodology as a means of engaging students on an undergraduate physical education (PE) and sport pedagogy module. Focus groups were conducted to investigate the students' and tutors' responses to the teaching approach. The results indicated that the method of teaching was associated with students feeling confident about their critical knowledge and understanding of contemporary issue in PE, their presentation and discussion skills, and a positive engagement with the module. Overall the approach was highly beneficial to the student learning experience.
Keywords: problem-based learning; experiential learning theory
The aim of this paper is to describe a study which employed a teaching approach combining classroom based problem-based learning (PBL) scenarios with student-led practical experiential learning sessions. It was designed as a means of engaging students on an undergraduate physical education (PE) and sport pedagogy module. The study focused on two specific questions: Did the combined methodology allow students to develop their critical awareness, knowledge and understanding of contemporary issues in PE and sport pedagogy? How engaging did students and tutors find the teaching approach employed to deliver this module?
PBL is an approach to teaching which uses realistic, problematic scenarios and subtle tutor questioning to facilitate in students critical ways of thinking (Jones & Turner, 2006). It is based on a series of clearly defined principles (Wood, 2007) where students are presented with a problem which they have to provide a solution for. The first step is for students to identify what they know already, they then research the areas where they have identified gaps in their knowledge and finally present an informed solution. Specific benefits claimed for the approach include:
* developing students' ability to make decisions and solve problems
* raising awareness of the complexity of real world issues
* allowing exposure to several bodies of knowledge
* developing the ability to extend learning beyond the presented problems
* increased integration of theory and practice
* developing individuals who are better able to learn effectively throughout their professional lives (Jones & Turner, 2006)
The PBL classroom-based sessions were structured around problem scenarios, reflecting the complex and integrated nature of PE in real-life teaching situations. The emphasis was student-centred in that an expectation existed for students to take an active part in planning, organising and conducting their own learning within a group framework.
In Kolb's experiential learning theory (ELT), learning is seen as a continuous process where individuals are actively involved in new experiences, reflect on what has taken place, theorise about the experience, and finally apply this knowledge to new situations (Kolb, 1984). Previous According to ELT, experiences need to be recognised as they affect how individuals learn. Huddleston and Unwin (2007) believed that a great deal of higher education teaching fails to recognise the importance of these experiences. Consistent with constructivist learning theory (Vygotsky, 1978), PBL aims to involve students in a number of processes that actively encourage them to move through the ELT cycle, and therefore values previous experiences and knowledge. In an attempt to emphasise the value of experiential learning, students in this study experienced practical workshops in addition to classroombased PBL sessions which were linked to the same theoretical areas as the PBL sessions they were participating in.
A key aim of this teaching methodology was to stimulate a deep approach to learning. Sternberg and Zhang (2001) identified a deep approach to …
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Publication information: Article title: Problem-Based and Experiential Learning: Engaging Students in an Undergraduate Physical Education Module. Contributors: Bethell, Sally - Author, Morgan, Kevin - Author. Journal title: Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sports and Tourism Education. Volume: 10. Issue: 1 Publication date: April 2011. Page number: 128+. © OXFORD BROOKES UNIVERSITY Apr 2010. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.