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Stage 3: Align means and ends
At the Maastricht Sustainability Institute, teaching and learning in the master takes place in a ‘flipped classroom’ format. Small groups of 5 to 6 students first work independently on learning objectives, and subsequently report back in a plenary meeting with around 20 students. This puts a strong emphasis on the self-directed and collaborative aspects of learning. To prepare for this, at the beginning of the programme, students do an exercise in group work. They also draw up a Team Charter that describes how they will collaborate.
Stage 5: How are we doing?
This activity aims to get students to reflect on their experiences with PBL, especially those that have been less positive, thinking first about what caused the disappointment, then possible solutions. The activity involves a 10-15-minute individual reflection activity, followed by some 30 minutes of small group discussion of causes and solutions to problems. The tutor’s role (not described in the exercise) is to monitor the discussion and ensure suggestions are collected in a useable form.
Stage 4: Keeping up the spirit
At the MSc Learning and Development in Organisations, learning is based on the principles of constructive, contextual, collaborative and self-directed learning. The constructive and collaborative aspects of learning in particular, are seen as very similar to learning and working in a professional context. In the coaching that is an integral part of this programme, reflection on what is learned and how it is learned become two sides of the same coin. Goal setting and self-evaluation by students concerns the development of competencies and the way in which these are acquired through learning.
Stage 2: Mind the gap to previous experiences
We used a flipped format to deliver PBL information during Introduction days. We set up a canvas course dedicated to Introduction days were students could find all sort of information, including websites, contact information and student manuals related to their selected study programme. Within this canvas site, we added an Introduction days schedule with embedded welcome videos and/or documents. In the week prior to Introduction Days, participants received an email (via Canvas announcements) asking them to go over the event’s schedule on Canvas and watch a ~40 min video with a detailed explanation on how PBL works. During Introduction days the panel was organized as follows:
— Panel chair briefly summarized the main concepts related to PBL
— The tutors/coordinators and current students panelists introduced themselves and shared (informally) their thoughts and experience with PBL
— The chair opened the room for questions from new students
Unlike previous years that used a simple PBL presentation (passive listening), the flipped approach allowed us to provide the factual information before hand and opt for a more active PBM meeting for optimal engagement of participants during the event. Participants asked many questions, often building up from answers provided by the panel. Having a diverse panel answering questions was an added bonus, as the participants quickly realized that different coordinators/tutors might approach PBL differently, depending on the content and focus of the course. The current student perspective was very valuable as they provided examples of how they prepare for PBL and act as chairs or scribes. In Period 2 we asked the new students to provide feedback about Introduction Days and they commented quite favorably about the active PBL panel.
Stage 1: Mapping Teaching & Learning Styles
This activity is designed to get students to compare their expectations of teacher and student roles, with the hope of revealing underlying cultural perceptions so that all are aware of them and they can be addressed. When grouping the students, try to select diverse nationality groups. Time stage A so that students discuss their (national) cultural expectations before learning in detail about PBL. Carry out stage B after they have received some input about what PBL is.