Problem centered instruction is a great way to engage students, integrate content, inspire learning, and naturally incorporate all three dimensions of the NRC Framework. However, true problem centered instruction requires a major shift in both teaching and learning, requiring the one thing teachers don't have: time--the last thing teachers need is another pedagogical strategy that disrupts their entire routine. Teachers will have the opportunity to voice their concerns and discuss some barriers of problem centered teaching and learning, while also addressing the benefits for both teachers and students. Considering the benefits, there are some immediate changes that teachers can use to help shift to a problem centered environment. Recalling that problem centered learning should be complex, meaningful, and open-ended, the four strategies are: 1) Make the Content Relatable, 2) Structure: Less is More, 3) Be a Resource, Not an Answer Key, and 4) Use a Problem to Introduce a Topic. Teachers will then have an opportunity to put the strategies to immediate use by picking a lesson or topic and work with others to transform it into a three-dimensional, problem centered lesson.
Teachers will explore four strategies that promote three-dimensional learning through the process of problem centered instruction that is complex, meaningful, and open-ended. They will discuss benefits and barriers to the problem centered approach from the perspective of both the instructor and the learner. Teachers will have an opportunity to brainstorm and work collaboratively on transforming a lesson or topic of their choice into a problem centered, reality based scenario that seamlessly integrates the Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas.
Cassandra Armstrong (Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy: Aurora, IL)