Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

The Effect of Problem-Based Learning on the Critical Thinking of Students in the Intellectual and Ethical Development Unit

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

The Effect of Problem-Based Learning on the Critical Thinking of Students in the Intellectual and Ethical Development Unit

Article excerpt

The aim in this study was to determine the effect of problem-based learning (PBL) on the critical thinking of students in the Development and Learning course in the Intellectual and Ethical Development Unit. The experimental model with a pretest-posttest control group was used with 60 students. The experimental group continued for 4 weeks and the students were provided with sample events which included problems, and they were asked to find the necessary information by themselves while explaining these events. In the control group, traditional methods of teaching (expression, question-answer) were used. Scale data were collected with the "Critical Thinking Scale" (Semerci, 2000). The KMO (Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin) value of the scale is 0.75 and Cronbach alpha coefficient is 0.90. The experimental group was more successful.

Keywords: problem-based learning, critical thinking, problem solving, development, learning.

For a student who has assemed responsibility for his/her own learning, the necessity to display the behaviors of attaining knowledge and using it makes thinking and problem solving important skills. This condition refers to an approach that is formative in acquiring knowledge which, especially over the past 10 years, has found a unique practice field in "Problem-based learning (PBL)" which supports critical thinking and problem-solving skills while solving real world problems and has been accepted widely recently (Carlsson, Dumbraveanu, Göran, Kungl, & Lofskog, 2001).

It was in 1976 that PBL first began to be used by Howard Barrows at McMaster University in Canada, so as to confront medical students with real clinical practices, then in 1979, in America at New Mexico University, it was also put into practice. Soon it became common all over the world, being used in a number of fields like engineering, social fields, law and architecture (Block, 1997; Bridges & Hallinger, 1999; Mackinnon, 1999; McPhee, 2002; Torp, 2002). Some reasons have been responsible for PBL's extension such as increase in motivation, its fostering the skill to choose the appropriate course of action, in the concentration of knowledge and integrating them, support for the students who can learn independently and form a cause-effect relationship, the possibility of working with other people and ensuring that knowledge will be remembered for a long time (Mackinnon).

Problem-based learning is one of the active learning models that supports flexibility and creativity in learning changing knowledge and takes individual differences into consideration. It is a learning method that places the students face-to-face with problems which they could come across in the real world, makes them aware of their importance, is based on fostering skills like solving the problem in advance, focuses on the student's activity and depends on mastery and adequacy (Chin & Chia, 2004; Elçin, 2000; Ramsden, 1999). In addition to gaining a problem-solving ability as a result of determining problems, looking for causes, formulating hypotheses and dealing with the knowledge and effort to prove or disprove these hypotheses, it is a multifaceted method providing possibilities for the knowledge to be used in other fields (Dicle, 2001; Kim, Kolko, & Greer, 2002). The basic principle is to bring students face-to-face with conditions that could be similar to real ones in their professions by teachers' constructing the problems systematically and learning that could be helpful for them to solve the problem individually (Elçin, 2000; Orhun & Kommers, 2002).

The aim is to teach the basic technical knowledge and skills for problem solving consistently. Students begin the learning process by studying in small groups and orienting themselves. Students then search for knowledge individually and present this knowledge to the other group members (Johnstone & Biggs, 1998; Taner & Keedy, 1995; Willkie, 2000).

PBL is achieved in discussion meetings of a group which generally consists of 7-14 students who come together once or twice a week (Sluijsmans, Moerkerke, van Merrienboer, & Dochy, 2001). …

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