THE PERCEPTIONS OF SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS ABOUT PROBLEM BASED LEARNING: A CASE OF TURKEY
Nowadays, problem- based learning is the most important one among the learner centered approaches which improve the high level thinking skills and bring in lifelong learning skills, provide students with constructing a comprehensive and flexible data base. Problem based learning is an approach that came out in the medical training as an alternative to the conventional teaching in the middle of 1960s and is currently being used in different fields such as law, economics, management, social sciences. In problem based learning, it is usually focused on a written problem which puts forward a situation requiring an explanation. Instead of giving instructions at first in order to work on a problem in the conventional approach, it could be appropriate to say “learning the problem at first” approach for the problem based learning. Problem based learning approach is known to have a good effect on students’ learning and enrich the learning environment.The aim of this research is to determine the opinions of the secondary school students in the seventh grade regarding the problem based learning in science class. The research has been carried out with the secondary school students (n:12) in the seventh class in a private school. The data of the research, in which the qualitative method is used, have been acquired by means of interviews. A semi-structured interview form developed by the researcher has been used so as to get the opinions of the students about the superiorities and limitations of the problem based learning activities. The content validity of the interview forms has been provided with the specialist views. Interviews have been recorded in writing. The data gathered from the interviews have been subjected to content analysis. For this purpose, a data analysis frame has been formed with reference to the interview questions, the data acquired in the frame of themes have been chosen and defined as sub-themes and combined together in a meaningful and logical way. Frequency tables have been constructed by calculating how often each theme repeats and quotations have been made directly from the views of the participants, the data gathered have been revealed and made sense of and the relations between the findings have been made. According to the findings gathered in the research, students support the superiorities of problem based learning to a large extent. Students have learned on their own by doing research, talked to their friends and taken great pleasure in presenting their studies. Besides, they have stated that this practice has improved their communication skills and is more effective in achieving their learning objectives. However, they have also expressed the negative aspects regarding problem based learning as well as these positive views. To illustrate this, they have pointed out that they have wasted plenty of time while doing the research, got tired while writing the research results and had to work with some friends they do not like.