Scholarly article on topic 'Designing Computer Assisted Problem Based Learning Environment in the Subject of Endocrine System in Human Beings for High School Biology'

Designing Computer Assisted Problem Based Learning Environment in the Subject of Endocrine System in Human Beings for High School Biology Academic research paper on "Computer and information sciences"

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Abstract of research paper on Computer and information sciences, author of scientific article — Gulsah Sezen Vekli, Atilla Cimer

Abstract Compared to PBL research on student learning outcomes, the issues surrounding the design of problems seems to have received little attention. Thus research on PBL problem design is rather scarce and unsystematic. To provide PBL educators with a systematic conceptual framework for designing PBL problems, Hung (2006) introduced the 3C3R model as a conceptual framework for systematically designing PBL problems. In current study, Computer Assisted Problem Based Learning (CAPBL) environment was designed in the subject of Endocrine System in Human Beings considering 3C3R model in high school biology by one of researcher. The aim of current study was to introduce a Computer Assisted Problem Based Learning (CAPBL) environment.

Academic research paper on topic "Designing Computer Assisted Problem Based Learning Environment in the Subject of Endocrine System in Human Beings for High School Biology"

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Social and Behavioral Sciences

Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 47 (2012) 303 - 310 —

CY-ICER2012

Designing computer assisted problem based learning environment in the subject of endocrine system in human beings for high school

biology

Gulsah Sezen Veklia *, Atilla Cimer B

uaTeaching Assistant, Bozok University, Faculty of Education, Department of Elementary Science Education, Yozgat, 66200, Turkey bAssistant Professor Doctor, Blacksea Technical University, Faculty of Fatih Education, Department of Secondary Science and _Mathematics Education, Trabzon, 61200, Turkey_

Abstract

Compared to PBL research on student learning outcomes, the issues surrounding the design of problems seems to have received little attention. Thus research on PBL problem design is rather scarce and unsystematic. To provide PBL educators with a systematic conceptual framework for designing PBL problems, Hung (2006) introduced the 3C3R model as a conceptual framework for systematically designing PBL problems. In current study, Computer Assisted Problem Based Learning (CAPBL) environment was designed in the subject of Endocrine System in Human Beings considering 3C3R model in high school biology by one of researcher. The aim of current study was to introduce a Computer Assisted Problem Based Learning (CAPBL) environment.

© 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer review under responsibility of Prof. Dr. Huseyin Uzunboylu Keywords: High school, biology, computer assisted problem based learning environment

1. Introduction

The science of biology, which studies human beings, other living things and their relationships, has a great effect on human life as one of the branches of sciences which have developed most for centuries. However, it is known that biology has been among the lessons in which most learning problems are encountere d (Qimer, 2004; Adali 2005; Salman, 2006). Nevertheless, it is shown with a lot of studies that the traditional method still prevails in the teaching process in a lot of schools in our country (Yaman and Soran, 2000) and students cannot solve the problems they have (Sarikaya, Selvi and Bora, 2004; Zaman, 2006)

In order to overcome the aforementioned problemsand educate science literature individuals, secondary school science programs (MEB, 2007) such as biology, physics and chemistry along with primary school science programs (MEB, 2003) are renewed. Secondary biology programs redesigned in this context is prepared on the basis of student-centered constructivist learning approach. Constructivist learning approach claims that learning takes place as the learner structures the objects, events and concepts from the external world by sense organs and interprets th em in accordance with their previous experience (Reviewed Gursul 2008 from Deryakulu, 2000). In parallel with

* Gül?ah SEZEN VEKLÍ. Tel.: 0-464-5328454/2383 E-mail address: gulsah.sezen@rize.edu.tr

ELSEVIER

1877-0428 © 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer review under responsibility of Prof. Dr. Huseyin Uzunboylu doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.06.655

this view, the constructivist approach emphasizes the need for and the importance of using various teaching methods and models which enables students to be active in learning environments.

One of the teaching methods which reflect the characteristics of the constructivist approach is Problem Based Learning Model. Hollingshead (2004) states it is possible to observe the basic principles of the constructivist approach in problem based instructions. Krynock and Robb (1999) express that problem based learning forms the essence of the constructivist approach. Problem based learning is a method which ensures that students encounter problems not well-structured and arrive at a solution by using their prior knowledge and information they acquire through researching on the subject. So, it deserves to be the essence of the constructivist approach (Kofakoglu, 2008).In recent years, developments in education technologies direct researchers towards studies which support problem based learning with technology because there is a complementary relationship between technology and problem based learning. Both function for the sake of the other. While problem based learning claims that learning takes place on the part of the learner by structuring the knowledge acquired previously and at the moment in a particular context, technology provides learners with the environment to form that context (Giirsul, 2008). Jonassen (2002) claims that computer, as one of the technological devices, enable students to gain experience in the real world context and facilitate the understanding of abstract subjects. That is because various means are used in these environments, such as images, simulations and animations which transfer abstract knowledge to real situations and videos, graphics, sounds and texts which can reflect real situations, problems or sample cases. Kumas (2008) draws attention to the fact that development of problem based learning scenarios with the help of computer assisted presentations might improve students' interest and motivation. Similarly, Oliver (2000) suggests that computer technologies like multi-media might enable students to structure knowledge meaningfully by taking the responsibility for their own learning.

Most of studies indicated that computer assisted problem based learning practices improved students' abilities to understand concepts, envisage, establish relationships between subjects and reach a particular solution (Soderberg and Price, 2003; Lee, 2006; Kumar and Sherwood, 2007, Yu, She and Lee, 2010; Bulu and Pederson, 2010). In short, when the related literature is studied, it is seen that the number of sample practices for computer-assisted problem based learning is rather few, particularly in our country, even though there are findings about the contribution of supporting problem based learning, one of the constructivist approach models, with computers (Tekedere, 2009; §endag, 2008; Ak, 2008). On the other hand, it is observed that subjects mostly studied are the effect of computer-assisted problem based learning on students' academic success (Chang, 2001a; Chang, 2001b), conceptual understanding (Kumar ve Sherwood, 2007) and change (Lee, 2006), critical thinking (Wesolowski, 2008, Sendag, 2008), reasoning (Lu, 2007), problem-solving (Bulu and Pederson, 2010; Krange and Ludvigsen, 2008; Yu, She and Lee, 2010) and students' perception of the computer-assisted problem based learning (Valoitis, Sward, Jones and Hodges, 2005). In our country, it is noticed that practices of computer-assisted problem based learning are carried out mostly at the university level and in various disciplines other than biology (Tekedere, 2009; Ak, 2008; Sendag, 2008; Giirsul, 2008). When the related literature is studied, it becomes conspicuous that the number of studies done in our country concerning to the computer-assisted problem based learning in biology lessons is rather few up to now.

While there are a lot of factors affecting the success of the problem based learning, it is known that well-designed problem situations play a key role in this success (Duch, 2001). That is because problem situations function as content and knowledge organizer, contextualizer for learning environment, thinking and reasoning stimulator and an element of learning motivation (Hung, 2006). In studies on PBL, the emphasis is usually on the effect of the method on various learning products and information about the process of problem design is quite limited. This fact shows that the current literature is incapable of presenting a problem design model which may be a guide for educators. In this direction, 3C3R problem design model developed by Hung (2006) is a systematic conceptual model which may guide PBL designers for all the disciplines. 3C3R problem based learning design model supports students' acquisition of cognitive skills such as reasoning and problem-solving while students learn the concepts related to the lesson in the process of analyzing the problem which is presented as a context (Hung, 2006).

3C3R model consists of two main components, core components and processing components. Core components include content, context and connection dimensions and used to support content/concept learning. Processing

components include researching, reasoning and reflection dimensions, and they are interested in learners' cognitive learning process and their problem-solving skill. The fact that it is a new method and there are no problems in the related literature intended for this model and developed in the biology lesson require doing research in the subject.

'Endocrine System in Human Beings' is one of the most difficult subjects for students although they regard it as a subject connected with real life (Zohre, 1999; Saka, 2001).In the studies carried out on the subject, it was found that high school students had wrong ideas about the transfer of hormones to target organs, which was in the subject of endocrine glands, and they could not explain the function of hormones in the feedback mechanism (Zohre, 1999). Saka (2001) confirmed that high school students could not show the endocrine system glands on human body. In the study by Zohre (1999), teachers stated that students' interest in the endocrine system subjects was low and their success in the endocrine system subject was lower when compared with other subjects. In the study, teachers were also found to be in need of visual materials related with the subject, which had a compact and abstract content. Within the content of the current study, a computer assisted problem based learning environment which requires that students use their high level skills such as researching, questioning, deep thinking, reflecting and problem solving was developed in the subject of 'Endocrine System in Human Beings' in accordance with the 3C3R model and was introduced. Below is the information on the 3C3R model, which the CAPBL environment was based on.

2. 3C3R Model

3C3R PBL problem design model consists of two main components, core components and processing components (see Figure 1). Core components include content, context and connection dimensions and used to support content/concept learning. Processing components include researching, reasoning and reflection dimensions, and they are interested in learners' cognitive learning process and their problem-solving skill.

Figure 1: 3C3R PBL Problem Design Model

2.1. Content

According to Malopinsky, Kirkley, Stein and Duffy (2000), problem based learning has been designed for both problem solving and forming content knowledge base. Students acquire content knowledge through the problem solving process. In this direction, like all of the teaching methods, the first step in problem design process in PBL is to determine the educational attainments and concepts which are included in the content knowledge. In PBL environment, this step is quite important in terms of providing reference to process components. At the same time, the subject in the position of problem increases the reliability of PBL problems because it presents the outlines of attainments which are related to scientific research and process skills. The problem situations taking part in CAPBL

environment, which was designed in the scope of this study, were developed for the objectives and concepts of the subject of 'Endocrine System in Human Beings' which is included in the 12th grade biology curriculum.

2.2. Context

Relevance and closeness of the problem context determines to what extent students can adopt problems. Because students are given information which is closely related to their future work life in vocational education and higher education programs, problem contexts can be very familiar to them. However, high school and primary school teaching programs contain more general information. So, the most important point in PBL problem design intended for these levels is to form contexts that can motivate students towards doing research and learning. To provide this, many researchers think that problems that will be used in PBL should be as original as possible. In this direction, the problems in CAPBL environment are designed close to real life or they are directly taken from real life with the aim of developing situations which students will find meaningful and worth studying. For example; the problems of "Is Shrek Real?" and "She Man" were taken from newspaper reports and used after some necessary adjustments. Another problem in the CAPBL environment "Incredible Suspicion" is a real death case which was turned into a story with some adjustments..

2.3. Connection

The connection component is the act of incorporating content into the problem context. In other words, it means setting a connection between problem contexts and concepts or information. Hung (2006) suggests that different approaches can be used to add connection component into the problem design. These are the approaches of precondition, overlapping and versatility. In the scope of the study, overlapping approach was used. 'Endocrine system in Human Beings' which was selected in the scope of the study, there is not a hierarchical relation between the concepts. For this reason, the concepts were grouped in a way that they could be divided into a set of problems so that students would form an integrated conceptual framework.

2.4. Researching

One of the most important phases of PBL is researching the information that is necessary in problem solving process. Problems not well-structured may be open to interpretation by their nature. If students are not well-guided in this process, they may deviate from the target learning content to different fields (Hung, 2006). For this reason, it is necessary to form a researching component which will directly guide students towards the target content and context knowledge. At this point, targets and contexts should be specialized. Target situation of PBL problems should be explained clearly. So, students should be guided correctly to the content knowledge determined by the content component. "Task" link, which was designed for this purpose in the CAPBL environment, is the section in which students are informed about their roles in the context of the problem and what is expected from them in this process. Another researching component which was designed and developed in the frame of problem context and targets in CAPBL environment is the section of "Researching Menu". Here, there are textual and visual information sources that students may need in the problem solving process. These two sections of CAPBL environment constitute the researching component in which target and context are specialized.

2.5. Reasoning

Reasoning is the process component which encourages students to use the information they acquire during researching process in the phase of identifying and solving the problem. Analyzing the features and interrelations of all variables in the problem, building a bridge between new and old information, and reconstructing content knowledge is done through reasoning. In fact, reasoning process is useful to deepen the conceptual learning of problem solvers. Researching and reasoning processes occur simultaneously and recurrently, and they are

complementary processes in problem solving process. So, these two processes should be well arranged in problem design. In CAPBL environment, prompt questions next to the researching menu are a guide for students in the subject of how they must use their reasoning skills in the researching process.

2.6. Reflection

In the problem solving process, students have the chance to organize their prior knowledge by reflecting new knowledge they acquire and to form a more systematic conceptual framework. Reflection component functions as a high cognitive guide. In the CAPBL environment, Socratic questions asked in the problem solving process enable students to reflect their knowledge during the process.

3. Computer Assisted Problem Based Learning (CAPBL) Environment

CAPBL environment, which was developed in the scope of 'Endocrine System in Human Beings', was designed for students in the problem based learning method on the basis of the constructivist approach. The environment developed was put to students' use on the website www.pdo-biyoloji.com. In the CAPBL environment, students have to follow the under mentioned steps basically in the process of solving a problem scenario:

1. Examining the problem situation ( watching/reading)

2. Examining the task section

3. Making explanations with socratic questions

4. Examining the research menu ( links about observation, laboratory test results, physical findings, related links)

5. Collecting the data (evidence) and writing them in the 'Take notes' section

6. Making explanations with Socratic questions (scaffolding)

7. Repeating the above-mentioned steps if necessary

In the interface screen, students can have access to general information about the Problem Based Learning Method via the link 'About PBL'. In the link 'Problem Scenarios', there are problems intended for the subject of 'Endocrine Systems in Human Beings'. 'Expectations' link is the section where general information is given about the behavior expected from the students during the problem-solving process. In the link 'Study schedule', information is given about how much time students will spend on the problem situations they are given. When the students choose the link 'Problem Scenarios', they will encounter three problem. If students choose the problem 'Is Shrek real?' they can watch the problem situation, which is in the video format, and they can read the text section next to the video by selecting it as well. By selecting the Task link, students learn about the role they play in the problem solving process and what is asked from them about the problem. On the bottom-left corner, there are prompt questions which encourage students to use their reasoning. By selecting the forward link, students register at the system writing their names/surnames and school numbers. In the CAPBL environment, there are questions which enable students to reflect on the problem by using problem solving process scaffolds, information they acquire during the processes of identifying the problem and researching. In this section, students express their ideas based on their prior knowledge and intended for identifying the problem. Students have the opportunity to see their answers to the questions and re-examine the problem in this section. Also in this section, there are 'Physical Symptoms, Laboratory Test Results, Observation and Related Links' links which include evidence items and 'Researching' submenu. Students can examine the links in this menu, note down their reasoning and inferences, and reveal cause and effect relationships in the problem.

Physical Symptoms: the section in which evidence items about the problem are found. In this section, there are prompt questions which encourage students to reason and 'take note' link which enables them to note down their inferences.

Laboratory Test Results: the section in which evidence items about the problem are found. In this section, there are prompt questions which encourage students to reason and 'take note' link which enables them to note down their inferences.

Observation: the section in which evidence items about the problem are found. This environment consists of simulations and animations (see Figure2). Thanks to this feature, it is possible to say that this section is a visual source of information which enables students to observe the functions of endocrine glands and hormones during the problem solving process. In this section, there are prompt questions which encourage students to reason and 'Take note' link which enables them to note down their inferences.

Figure 2: A screenshot of observation link about 'Is Shrek Real?' problem

Related links: the section in which evidence items about the problem are found. In this section, there are prompt questions which encourage students to reason and 'take note' link which enables them to note down their inferences. In this section, questions which help students recognize their faults and reveal claim, evidence and reasoning items are included (e.g. Is similar your initial idea to your inference obtaining after investigation? Could you explain this a little more?). Also in this section, students can go back to the problem situation and researching submenu and reexamine the links there. Besides, there is a question which helps reveal students' suggestions on the solution of the problem. Also in this section, students can go back to the problem situation and researching submenu and reexamine the links there.

Administrator Panel: In this section, students' responses to the Socratic questions during the problem solving process and notes they take can be seen by the administrator. In this way, each student's problem solving process can be evaluated.

4. Conclusion

Compared to PBL research on student learning outcomes, student perceptions, or group processing, the issues surrounding the design of problems seems to have received little attention. Research on PBL problem design is rather scarce and unsystematic. To optimize and maximize the effects of PBL, the quality of the problems is vital. In present study, a computer assisted problem based learning environment, developed in the subject of 'Endocrine System in Human Beings' in accordance with the 3C3R model was introduced. For individual instructional designer and teachers this paper, representing a practice of 3C3R design model, might provides a conceptual structure upon which they can formulate and design PBL problems.

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