A Meta-Analytic and Qualitative Review of Online versus Face-to-Face Problem-Based Learning

By Jurewitsch, Brian | International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education, May 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

A Meta-Analytic and Qualitative Review of Online versus Face-to-Face Problem-Based Learning


Jurewitsch, Brian, International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education


Abstract

Problem-based learning (PBL) is an instructional strategy that is poised for widespread application in the current, growing, on-line digital learning environment. While enjoying a track record as a defensible strategy in face-to-face learning settings, the research evidence is not clear regarding PBL in on-line environments. A review of the literature revealed that there are few research studies comparing on-line PBL (oPBL) to face-to-face PBL, and, in these, findings have been mixed. This study is a combined meta-analytic and qualitative review of the existing research literature comparing oPBL to face-to-face PBL. The study's aim is to:

1. Detect the presence and magnitude of the effectiveness of oPBL;

2. Uncover and identify the factors that contribute or explain the effectiveness of oPBL.

This review used a mixed methods strategy, combining a meta-analysis with a qualitative analysis of the studies that met inclusion criteria. An overall effect size was found to be slightly in favour of oPBL in terms of student performance outcomes. The qualitative analysis revealed relationships between established concepts of learning. The observations in this systematic review help reduce uncertainty about the robustness of PBL as in instructional strategy delivered in the online environment.

Résumé

L'apprentissage par problèmes (APP), aussi dénommé apprentissage par résolution de problèmes (ARP), est une stratégie pédagogique qui est appelée à se répandre dans l'environnement actuel et toujours croissant de l'apprentissage en ligne. Alors que les évaluations antérieures démontrent que cette stratégie est défendable dans les situations d'apprentissage en face à face, les résultats d'études scientifiques ne sont pas clairs en ce qui a trait à l'APP dans les environnements en ligne. Une revue de la littérature a révélé qu'il y a peu d'études qui comparent l'APP en ligne (eAPP) à l'APP en face à face (APP) et que celles qui ont été réalisées arrivent à des résultats mitigés. La présente étude est une revue systématique de la littérature scientifique comparant l'eAPP à l'APP en face à face. Les objectifs de l'étude sont de :

1. Déceler la présence et l'ampleur de l'efficacité de l'eAPP;

2. Découvrir et identifier les facteurs qui contribuent ou qui expliquent l'efficacité de l'eAPP.

Pour réaliser cette revue, nous avons eu recours à une stratégie de méthodes mixtes, combinant une méta-analyse et une analyse qualitative des études qui satisfaisaient aux critères d'inclusion. Nous avons observé, dans l'ensemble, que l'ampleur de l'effet penchait légèrement en faveur de l'eAPP au niveau des résultats de la performance des élèves. L'analyse qualitative a révélé des liens entre les concepts d'apprentissage bien établis. Les remarques formulées dans cette revue systématique aident à réduire l'incertitude au niveau de la robustesse de l'APP en tant que stratégie pédagogique utilisée dans un environnement en ligne.

Introduction

Problem-based learning (PBL) is an empirically supported instructional strategy in which students are presented with real-life complex problems and are required to generate hypotheses about the causes of the problem and how best to manage it (Barrows, 1998). PBL is distinctive in that the activities are student-centered, as learners assume responsibility for their own learning, and the problems require students be self-directed as they search for the information needed for problem-resolution (Barrows, 1998, 2002). When PBL is implemented in instructional programs, and in particular professional programs, the learning outcomes have been so favourable, that one author has characterized PBL as the most complete and holistic instructional strategy (Margetson, 2000). PBL research increased considerably when there was a flurry of interest to adapt PBL to electronic learning environments (Fischer, Troendle, & Mandl, 2002; Steinkuehler, Derry, Hmelo-Silver, & Delmarcelle, 2002). …

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