An Exploration into PBL By a Curious Undergraduate

As an undergraduate biochemistry student, I never paid much attention to the how's and why's of learning science. I went in, got an A, and left. Towards the end of my junior year at DePauw University, I began to question the ways I had been learning. Why did my professors teach the way they did? Was I actually learning or was I just getting good grades? For background's sake, my second semester junior year I was enrolled in an Honor Scholar course led by professor Beth Benedix, an avid supporter of project-based learning. In the class, we had high energy texts, class-led discussions, and a final whole class creation born completely from all of our ideas. I fell in love. I wondered why other classes couldn't be taught in a similar manner. Those questions and my experience got me thinking about my science education and the way I had been taught up until then. I wasn't failing, but I wasn't having fun. I began to get frustrated with systems that eliminated the fun from learning and started doubting the path I was on. Now, in my senior year at DePauw University, I am a member of the Honors College and working on the year-long thesis required to complete the program. It could be on absolutely anything. I decided to run with the questions I had been asking myself since junior year. Is there a better way to learn and can that way be used to teach science classes in particular? Since then, my thesis has evolved in ways I couldn't have imagined. I have partnered with a teacher at our local elementary school to observe and assist her in carrying out a semester long project with her third grade class in the spring. During this semester, I have been reading as much as I can about pedagogy, PBL, and science education to be able to go into next semester with as much knowledge as possible. I have created this group as a place to share what I have read, learned, and experience as a student who is learning about PBL having already been taught in another way. All are welcome and any advice/support from like-minded thinkers is always a huge morale boost!

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