A private comprehensive liberal arts college in Salt Lake City, UT, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in liberal arts and professional programs. Website
Problem Based Learning Workshop Schedule

Problem Based Learning Workshops

Admitted Student Day, March 21, 2015


There will be a workshop held from 10:00-11:30 AM. Problem based learning is a way of learning educational concepts and theories by attacking real world problems. In life problems are interconnected and complex and often require solutions that use multiple disciplines, theories and applications. Problems tend to aggressively cross disciplinary boundaries. Problem based learning  teaches students how to think by requiring them to assess what they already know about the problem (assumptions), what they need to find out, how to find those things out, and then what the best way to apply that knowledge toward solving the problem. Faculty in PBL classes tend to serve more as mentors, guiding students toward resources, rather than lecturers, and students should expect to encounter road blocks, red herrings, and new dimensions of the problem as they go. The process is as important as the product. For this workshop we are looking for creativity, an ability to look at a problem from a variety of perspectives, problem solving and critical thinking abilities, team work, leadership if appropriate, communication skills, and decision making. The ability to deal with an ill-structured problem and come up with an action plan and delegated duties is also important. The correct answer is not necessarily the goal, since many of these problems do not have a single correct answer—they usually involve a series of compromises.
Today we are going to do an exercise in problem based learning to allow us to assess how you work in a PBL environment and to give you a chance to try out PBL as a learning method. There are no right answers. These are not problems that have already been solved or exercises to help you practice skills or methodologies. They are real situations, pulled from campus life here at Westminster. You’ll need to do the following things:

• Decide what the problem is and decide what assumptions you must make in order to identify the problem.
• Decide what you already know about the problem.
• Decide what else you need to know in order to solve the problem.
• Decide what data to collect and how to collect it (i.e. field research—going out into the community and asking informed experts about it, or scholarly research—using traditional sources like books, articles, the internet to better understand the problem and its possible solution).
• Determine what needs to be done, divide up the responsibilities for the project among the group and determine a timeline for accomplishing the task.
• Create a report that explains the process you’ve used to come up with your proposal and the solution you propose. What sorts of educational disciplines (psychology, math, management, history, English, science, art) would you draw on to solve this problem?