Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Meeting Current Challenges in School Psychology Training: The Role of Problem-Based Learning

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Meeting Current Challenges in School Psychology Training: The Role of Problem-Based Learning

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Internationally, school psychology (SP) training is facing a range of common but important challenges. These include preparing graduate students for an extended breadth of practice requirements despite increasingly acute problems in program staffing, provision of culturally appropriate services, and the need to engage in evidence-based practice (Jimerson, Oakland, & Farrell, 2007). A clear illustration of the first of these challenges is the increasing involvement of school psychologists in the overall promotion of child and adolescent mental health (Suldo, Freidrich, & Michalowski, 2010; Ye & Fang, 2010), including the delivery of therapeutic interventions (Atkinson, Squires, Bragg, Muscutt, & Wasilewski, 2013; Yeo & Choi, 2011). In recent years, shortages of qualified program staff have been reported in nations where SP is a long-established specialty (Clopton & Haselhuhn, 2009), as well as in nations where the related training is still at a rudimentary stage (van Schalkwyk & D'Amato, 2013).

The importance of ensuring that culturally appropriate SP services are offered to children and adolescents, their families, and schools is recognized in relation to serving diverse indigenous groups (Akin-Little & Little, 2013), supporting newly arrived immigrants (German, 2004; Haboush, 2007), and adapting models of practice imported from other countries (D'Amato, van Schalkwyk, Yang Zhao, & Hu, 2013). Kratochwill (2007) identified a number of key challenges for graduate programs in preparing psychologists for evidence-based school practice (American Psychological Association Task Force on Evidence-Based Practice With Children and Adolescents, 2008). These include integrating knowledge about evidence-based practice into curricula, extending models of research training, expanding training in problem-solving consultation, and applying prevention science in school contexts. Although all of these training challenges are complex, they are also the kinds of challenges that some have argued problem-based learning (PBL) can address (Kennedy, Cameron & Monsen, 2009).

PBL in Professional Education

PBL was developed at McMaster University Medical School in Canada in the late 1960s to deliver the academic elements of curricula and better integrate them with placement experiences (Barrows, 1996). It was adopted by a number of other medical schools internationally during the 1970s and has subsequently been used across the health sciences and in a range of related and unrelated areas, such as social work, engineering, architecture, business, law, economics, education, and agriculture (Schwartz, Mennin, & Webb, 2001). PBL was seen as potentially better than conventional programs at addressing the needs of the 21st century workplace and producing professionals able to keep abreast of developments in knowledge, apply that knowledge to practice problems, and contribute effectively in multiprofessional teamwork contexts (Hmelo & Evensen, 2000). It was argued that PBL has a number of advantages over traditional programs in developing these additional abilities, such as addressing the problems of curriculum overload that are particularly acute in professional education and meeting competency and accountability requirements while supporting the development of a high level of critical analysis (Savin-Baden, 2000). Evaluative studies predominantly found that PBL use yields an advantage over conventional programs with respect to critical thinking (sendag & Odabasi, 2009), self-directed learning (Blumberg, 2000), problem solving, and communication/teamwork (Koh, Khoo, Wong, & Koh, 2008). It should be noted that meta-analyses typically report that, compared to PBL, conventional instruction is associated with better short-term knowledge retention as measured by tests and examinations. However, this advantage tends to reverse over time, with PBL consistently demonstrating superior outcomes with regard to long-term retention (Colliver, 2000; Dochy, Sagers, van den Bossche, & Gijbels, 2003; Strobel & van Barneveld, 2009) and application of knowledge to practice (Gijbels, Dochy, van den Bossche, & Segers, 2005). …

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