University of Ljubljana (SLOVENIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN09 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 4946-4955
ISBN: 978-84-612-9801-3
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2009
Location: Barcelona ,Spain
The aim of our research was to find responses to the critics of Problem Based Learning that claim it is a reactive form of learning that excludes the possibilities of creating new contexts and that it often seems more concerned about the contents of the problem than about the students trying to solve it. Reflecting on these ideas, we tried to implement strategies that encouraged individualisation of learning processes and contexts within Problem Based Learning in the field of Visual Art Education.

However, in order to acquire the knowledge and skill to learn successfully and effectively in whatever learning situation (problem) he/she encounters, the learner should know his/her areas of strength and weakness: we are in a much better position to choose learning experiences and opportunities which suit us, or to develop our weaker styles in order to be able to extend the range of experiences from which we are able to learn. Individuals sometimes find that their ability to learn is blocked for one or more reasons. The factors that can affect solving problems differ from student to student. Some possibilities are considered in the following list: factors connected with perception, culture, emotions, motivation, cognition, nature of previous learning experiences, intellectual skills, expression, unsupportive environment etc. Taking all these elements as a motivation for research, we tried to define procedures that considered students' individual learning styles in order to develop independence in dealing with problems.

The empiric experiment included 4th year university students. It consisted in a comparison between the results obtained by the students under different working conditions. The data included a questionnaire of learning styles, an art work based on a problem, where all students were given the same information, a similar work, where students were given information considering the elements their learning style overlooks and a final reflection questionnaire. All the art works were examined using the same schema by three evaluators to guarantee high objectivity in the evaluation. Qualitative and quantitative interpretations of data were assisted by variance analysis. The design of the experiment derived from experience and instrumentaries were evaluated by a team of professionals, which guaranteed reliability and validity.

The analysis of the works showed important improvements – wider approach to the task, precise definition of details when comparing the “unindividual treatment” and the “individual” one. However, new questions opened: how to improve self-evaluation and awareness of individuality, the reconceptualization of motivation, recognizing that to solve problems means to undertake “efforts” considering a holistic view of their elements; how to develop the abilities to establish effectiveness criteria, to identify learning needs, to be able to plan personal learning and to manage learning processes.

Although the experience was regarded as positive, students considered it difficult. Its value resided in focusing on the necessity to develop individual students' competencies understanding difficulties as problems, recognizing its elements, creating meaningful links between them in order to solve them efficiently and independently, narrowing down the gap between study and working life.

problem based learning, learning styles, learning context, learning strategies.