Ace Training Ltd. A complete Case Study of Problem-based learning

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This example occupies the first semester of a second year undergraduate module on computer networking for student studying B.Sc. Information technology. It reflects the work that a network analyst/designer would be expected to do, though in practice the work would be distributed over a number of different employee roles.

The entire module is designed for a study time of 150 hours, over a 12 week semester, for teams of 4 or 5 students. Students are novice in Problem Based-Learning and are prepared with workshops introducing PBL and "team working" skills, prior to introdcution off the problem statement.

The module comprises 3 PBL cases: (PBL1) Requirements Analysis, (PBL2) System Specification, (PBL3) System construction. For each, the problem-statement, a facilitator guide and the assessement criteria are given to student. The learning outcomes are the following: (1) critically analyse of the requirements for a small-scale network, (2) synthesis and evaluate a design for a solution to a network requirement.

Since this is the first experience that students have of PBL, the case is presented as a role play; students initially identify some questions that need answering to produce a complete and inambiguous specification. Students obtain the information by identifying suitable employees (played by faculty members) to interview and carrying out the interviews. Feedback is provided to ensure that they can work from a reasonable set of requirement.

Each PBL case containts:

  1. Problem Statement: explain the situation's case and the different protagonists.
  2. Deliverables: students know what kind of deliverable they have to do, and for when they have to finish them.
  3. Assessement Criteria/Weightings: available from a Web site
  4. Further information: this part shows some specific information which could be very important for the sudent to keep in mind.
  5. Advice: this part explains to the student the way to follow, the most important skills,…
  6. Ressources: detail the avaible resources.
  7. Facilitator guide: this well-named guide help students to progress in their work. It containts:
    • Schedule: It details the different tasks which have to be done, the type of the activity, (class activities, independent study, submissions), and their delivery time. This part can take the shape of a tab.
    • Resources: this part lists the different resources available (Web sites, books,…)
    • Background: used as an aide memoir for the tutor for the role plays. This part explains the situation, the context.
    • Requirements. This is a list of all requirements: who to contact, how to contact them, which kind of data is required, who needs what,…

Reference

Uden, L. & Beaumont C. (2006). Technology and Problem-Based Learning. Information Science Publishing, Hershey, USA