PBL – What do students think of it?

At this week’s PBL community meeting, the group discussed the reactions from students to different class projects. First, we looked at surveys from three First Year Seminars in fall 2021 that participated in PBL activities. The answers indicated that students had relatively similar levels of satisfaction and engagement with PBL and non-PBL assignments and activities. 

Professors also discussed their experiences with student dynamics. Professor Melissa Hammerle noted that in educational psychology students were a bit uncomfortable initially, but over time it was a great way to create community in the classroom, though it requires more work. Professor Lana Povitz emphasized that the community building aspects and ability to read other people’s work are a good bonding exercise that helps students build character.

In the field of animation and art, Professor Daniel Houghton described that group projects can risk social relationships and most grades in studio classes are based on completion. In this part of academia professionalism is not as emphasized, instead it’s consistency and showing up that matters. 

Professor Karin Gottshall also described some successes in her first year seminar on the topic of lullabies, where students are creating individual projects about the lessons from lullabies to address mental health issues on college campuses. While some projects may not work, students are learning about event planning on campus. One project, called Lullapalooza  (based on the music festival Lollapalooza) was an event for stress-reducing activities and lullaby reading. 

Additionally, the group discussed that assigning roles in group projects is helpful, as well as having status updates with the professor. Professor Lana Povitz described that self-reflections can be very helpful in making students reflect on their participation in groups. While asking students to grade themselves can present challenges, doing a verbal or written reflection on one’s participation presents an opportunity to reflect on how they put effort into the project. The next PBL meeting will be on May 12th (Thursday) at 12:15 in the Mitchell Green Room. Faculty members who participated in the Data Science Across the Disciplines course will share their experiences in that J-Term class. 


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