Problem-Based Learning in a Mathematics Classroom

Introduction

Learners in the 21st Century need to develop four crucial skills to lead successful lives, especially in the work force, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. Education today promotes more rote memorization and step following than developing deep understanding, especially in a mathematics setting, this is why learners often refer to math as "boring" and "frustrating," and often ask, "when will I ever need this?" To break from this thinking of math as boring and frustrating, mathematics educators need to create classroom environments that stimulate the learners' minds by fostering critical thinking skills. Problem-Based Learning may be the answer to motivating mathematics students to "think outside the box," while developing problem solving skills. This mini-course is designed to provide mathematics educators with the basic key ideas behind problem-based learning to allow for the incorporation of problematic tasks into more classrooms.

Course Objectives

1. The learner will identify by naming the characteristics of Problem-Based Learning.

2. The learner will state orally the need for Problem-Based Learning within the classroom.

3. The learner will classify by writing the roles of the teacher and student in a Problem-Based Learning environment.

4. Given a variety of mathematical tasks, the learner will discriminate between problematic tasks and non-problematic tasks by listing the characteristics of the given task, and determining which tasks fit into each category.

5. Using the provided resources, the learner will generate in writing a problematic mathematics task or change an existing traditional task to a problematic task.

6. The learner will choose to adopt Problem-Based Learning by incorporating problematic tasks into their classrooms.

Units

Unit 1: What is Problem-Based Learning and Why is it Important?

This unit defines Problem-Based Learning and discusses the importance of it within the classroom.


Objectives:

1. The learner will describe Problem-Based Learning in his/her own words.

2. The learner will identify by naming characteristics of Problem-Based Learning.

3. The learner will state orally the need for Problem-Based Learning in the classroom.

4. The learner will classify by writing the roles of the teacher and student in a Problem-Based Learning environment.

5. The learner will identify differences between a Problem-Based Learning environment and a traditional classroom environment.

Unit 2: What is a Problematic Task?

This unit discusses the differences between problematic tasks and traditional tasks.

Objectives:

1. The learner will list in writing the key factors to consider when creating problematic mathematics contexts.

2. Given a variety of mathematical tasks, the learner will discriminate between problematic tasks and non-problematic tasks by listing the characteristics of the given task, and determining which tasks fit into each category.

Unit 3: How do I Generate Problematic Tasks?

This unit provides important information to consider when planning to use Problem-Based Learning in the classroom. Of particular importance in this unit are the creation of authentic mathematical problems that can be used in a Problem-Based Learning setting.

Objectives

1. The learner will analyze two problematic tasks writing their thoughts in a reflective journal.

2. Using the provided resources, the learner will generate in writing a problematic mathematics task or change an existing traditional task to a problematic task.

3. The learner will choose to adopt Problem-Based Learning by incorporating problematic tasks into their classrooms

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