Introducing Problem-Based Learning to a First-Year Curriculum

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An Economics Network funded project, 2006-7

Project leader: Frank Forsythe
Contact: Fp.forsythe@ulster.ac.uk

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Project Description

This project will introduce PBL to the first-year economics curriculum at the University of Ulster. The teaching period is 24 weeks at 2 hours/week. Lectures will be kept to a minimum, and will take the form of occasional 15-20 minute 'large-group' summary sessions (it is envisaged that around 8 large-group summary sessions will be undertaken). Approximately 50 Year 1 students are involved.

The project will include the following important features:

Final Year facilitators - final year economics undergraduates will be used to facilitate the PBL team sessions. These facilitators will be given a one-day training session and receive payment as facilitators. They will work closely with the project leader. Each facilitator will remain with the same PBL team throughout the 24 week teaching period. The project leader will be in attendance at every PBL session.

Personal Development Reports - each first year student and each facilitator will keep a weekly record of their PBL experiences. These are confidential documents to be submitted to the project leader. During the project these will be available to the project leader on request.

A longitudinal study - students will be monitored and surveyed on non-PBL modules from the second semester of the first year and during their second year to assess the potential 'externality' impact of PBL in non-PBL modules. This is a rather unique feature of this project within the context of existing PBL literature, which tends to ignore the potential externality aspect of PBL.

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