PROBLEM BASED LEARNING ASSESSMENT ENHANCED THROUGH THE INTEGRATION OF TECHNOLOGY
University of Tasmania (AUSTRALIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN10 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Conference name: 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-7 July, 2010
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:This paper explores the development of assessment to support a Problem Based Learning (PBL) approach to delivering two Masters Units at the University of Tasmania (UTAS). Australian universities have become more focussed on increasing their student numbers by marketing to, and recruiting students from, other countries. At UTAS, international students predominately undertake postgraduate coursework programs. Many international students enrol in Australian university courses with low level English language skills. Additionally, their previous educational experiences have embedded culturally based approaches to pedagogy adopted within their home countries. In particular, an emphasis on rote learning does not prepare international students with skills for developing graduate attributes such as problem solving, communication and critical analytic thinking skills. Australian universities, particularly those with large numbers of international students, thus face considerable challenges in effectively delivering their programs.
In 2009 a PBL approach was adopted for one unit in a Masters program in order to address the issue of poor participation and engagement by students (Ellis, Cummings, Turner, 2009). In 2010 a new unit was developed that also adopted a PBL approach. The staff responsible for these units have worked in collaboration and identified a need to redesign the assessment in the PBL units to focus on the student learning journey rather than the problem solution.
An integrated approach to assessment was developed providing both the student and the staff with multiple pieces of evidence to demonstrate the student learning journey. Technology was a key element in the development of the assessment with the inclusion of eportfolios (PebblePad) and UTAS Wikis (Confluence by Atlassian) in addition to the UTAS education platform MyLo (Blackboard). For students the PebblePad technology provides a tool to document their individual learning journey by creating assets that can be drawn upon as evidence of engagement and participation in the learning journey. A variety of assets will be created over several weeks and then used to create an ePortfolio, which is assessed. For the unit instructors, Confluence is a wiki technology that provides a mechanism for staff member collaboration across the units and provides the opportunity to monitor, comment and give feedback to student teams using the wiki to collaborate on group-based assessment items.
The PebblePad and wiki technologies have been included for use in the two units to provide students with an integrated learning experience in which each piece of assessment is related to and supports the others. Thus everything the students do and learn can be repackaged as a PebblePad asset that is in turn available as evidence for assessment via the construction of their eportfolio. The wiki technology supports student collaborating with each other and can be drawn on for evidence of the learning journey. It also supports the two instructors in discussing and evaluating the students’ progress.
Keywords: Problem Based Learning, technology, assessment, Higher Education.