Date of Award:

Spring 2017

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences

Department name when degree awarded

Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences

Advisor/Chair:

Brian R. Belland

Abstract

This multiple paper dissertation addressed several issues in Problem-based learning (PBL) through conceptual analysis, meta-analysis, and empirical research. PBL is characterized by ill-structured tasks, self-directed learning process, and a combination of individual and cooperative learning activities. Students who lack content knowledge and problem-solving skills may struggle to address associated tasks that are beyond their current ability levels in PBL. This dissertation addressed a) scaffolding characteristics (i.e., scaffolding types, delivery method, customization) and their effects on students’ perception of optimal challenge in PBL, b) the possibility of virtual learning environments for PBL, and c) the importance of information literacy for successful PBL learning. Specifically, this dissertation demonstrated the effectiveness of scaffolding customization (i.e., fading, adding, and fading/adding) to enhance students’ self-directed learning in PBL. Moreover, the effectiveness of scaffolding was greatest when scaffolding customization is self-selected than based on fixed-time interval and their performance. This suggests that it might be important for students to take responsibility for their learning in PBL and individualized and just-in-time scaffolding can be one of the solutions to address K-12 students’ difficulties in improving problem-solving skills and adjusting to PBL.

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