Matthew Wolfson

Revision as of 09:31, 26 September 2018 by Mwolfson (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)

Return to: ETAP 623 Fall 2017 Home | Matthew's Personal Page | Problem Based Learning in Physics

About Me

Hi Everyone! I'm Matt Wolfson. I am a high school teacher in Rockland County New York. This is going to be my third year teaching 12th grade Physics. I love teaching physics because it allows you to solve real world problems we can see everyday. I try to make my class fun by doing fun projects and using a lot of technology every day. I am currently about half way through the CDIT program at SUNY Albany. What interested me the most about this program was that we will learn about new ways to incorporate technology into the classroom. I am always looking for new ideas for my classroom!

My Topic/Purpose

Incorporating PBL in a Physics Classroom:

Problem based learning (PBL) describes a classroom environment where the learning is driven through the use of solving complex problems.These problems are posed in such a way that the students will need to seek out new information and knowledge in order to find solutions. The teacher will adopt the role of a facilitator of instruction as they guide the student's in an inquiry driven environment.

Needs Assessment

1. Instructional Problem

With an ever changing professional world, the sought after characteristics for employees are changing. It has moved away from strictly intelligence, and moved closer toward problem-solving skills. Problem-based learning provides are students with the necessary skills to be successful not only in school, but out in the modern world. This relatively new form of instruction has proven difficult for teachers to adopt being that it requires the teacher to step back and facilitate instruction rather than lead. Teachers must become familiar with the many benefits to utilizing PBL in the classroom in order to keep up with the changing world we are living in.

2. What is to be learned?

Students will learn what problem-based learning is and how to properly implement it in the classroom. Students will learn how to create a classroom environment that promotes the success of the students when performing PBL activities.

3. The Learner

This course is intended for educators who are looking to learn about new possible teaching strategies in the classroom. This course can be beneficial to any teacher across all contents and curricula. Participants in this course will all have a varying skill set with using technology and solving problems. The participant is assumed to already understand basic teaching and learning strategies, as they will now build upon those understandings.

4. Instructional Context

This course will be conducted solely online through the Wiki platform. Participants will need access to the computer and internet in order to complete the course. Many activities done in this course will require students to self reflect or discuss within a group of students on a discussion board of sorts.

5. Exploring the Instructional Problem

Many teachers are stuck in a world of traditional teaching methods. It is risky to branch out and try new things in the classroom. This course is aimed to get teachers comfortable with this new teaching strategy. The students of this course will learn about the benefits of using PBL and how to apply this to their own classrooms. After completing this course, the students should be able to apply PBL to different aspects of their own course.

6. Goals of Mini-Course

The goal of this mini-course is to have the participant to fully understand how to utilize problem-based learning in the classroom, and all of the benefits that come along with it. The participant should be able to implement this learning strategy in their classroom and be able to create their own PBL activity, lesson, or unit. The final goal of the course is to have the participant identify and replicate the classroom environment necessary for PBL to take place.

Performance Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Identify the benefits to utilizing PBL in the classroom.
  • Describe the characteristics of the learning environment necessary to successfully implement PBL.
  • Design their own PBL activity & lesson

Task Analysis

UNIT 1: What is Problem-Based Learning & How is it beneficial to the students?

UNIT 2: How to implement PBL in the classroom (creating the classroom environment)


  • Participant must be familiar with using the internet as a source of learning.
  • Participant must understand their students and can design a course specific to their learning needs.


  • Participant should be able to write clearly.
  • Participant should have critical-thinking skills.
  • Participant should have creative-thinking skills.

Curriculum Map

PBL Curriculum Map.jpg

References and Resources

  • How people learn: brain, mind, experience, and school. (2000). Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
  • Schoenfeld, A. (1985). Mathematical Problem Solving. New York: Academic Press.
  • Speaking of learning: problem based learning. (2001). Stanford University.