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The current shift towards problem-based learning (PBL) internationally within higher education, and the transfer of some programmes within higher education in Ireland into PBL programmes, suggests that staff development needs to be a key component in any PBL implementation strategy. PBL radically transforms the roles and functions of both staff and student and challenges teachers’ beliefs and accompanying perceptions about the teaching and learning process. This study documents the impact of a PBL staff development programme on the participants and assesses the impact on their pedagogical stance.
The approach to this study was guided by my belief in the socially constructed nature of reality, which is underpinned by post-positivist philosophy. I used a case study, which is qualitative and interpretive in nature, to generate an emergent theory. Data was collected using a questionnaire. Following the analysis and interpretation of the data a member check was carried out by providing the participants with a copy of the findings and asking them to critically reflect and comment on the findings.
The findings indicate that the participants’ personal experience as PBL students is considered to be an effective method for them to acquire the necessary skills to be both a PBL student and to implement PBL with their own students. In addition, participants note a more student-centred approach in their teaching as a consequence of undertaking the module.
A fundamental issue that arose in the course of this study is that PBL involves a major change in staff beliefs and perceptions about the teaching and learning process. Designers of future staff development modules should consider the implications of this for their programmes, in both continuing to provide professional development to teaching staff implementing PBL, and in targeting a wider audience among lecturing staff to adopt the PBL philosophy.
Coleman, Una: Staff Perspectives on the Experience of a Problem-Based Learning Staff Development Module: Impact on Their Pedagogical Stance. Dissertation. Dublin, Dublin Institute of Technology, 2003