When your students are ready to create and evaluate within the course topic, active learning should be the primary feature of your pedagogy.

Group/Team-Based Learning

Group/Team-Based Learning (sometimes referred to as Cooperative Learning) is "a highly structured form of group work that focuses on the problem solving that-when directed by an effective teacher-can lead to deep learning, critical thinking, and genuine paradigm shifts in students' thinking."

- Millis, B. J. (Ed.). (2010). Cooperative learning in higher education: Across the disciplines, across the academy. Stylus. p. 5

The literature references two key elements for any successful group/team-based learning activity:

  1. Positive interdependence - student groups/teams are formed around a given task that they could not complete adequately on their own. This means that students enter and engage in the group/team with a vested interest in working together.
  2. Individual accountability - students receive the grades they earn separate from the group product evaluation. The group product may be assigned a group grade, but each individual student's grade also takes into account the work of that individual student. (i.e., students can submit a peer critique of other group members' to be considered in assigning individual grades).
The key to using Group/Team-Based Learning effectively lies in understanding basic principles of team dynamics (setting up the context for individuals to "need" others in order to complete the project) and then applying those principles with specific subject matter to achieve the kinds of student learning not possible individually.

Are you interested in implementing Group/Team-Based Learning into your course? If so, contact the CTL for a consultation. (teaching@berkeley.edu(link sends e-mail)(link sends e-mail) 

Problem-Based Learning

"Problem-Based Learning (PBL) as it is generally known today evolved from innovative health sciences curricula introduced in North America over 30 years ago. Medical education, with its intensive pattern of basic science lectures followed by an equally exhaustive clinical teaching programme, was rapidly becoming an ineffective and inhumane way to prepare students, given the explosion in medical information and new technology and the rapidly changing demands of future practice. [PBL was developed] not only as a specific instructional method but also as central to [a] philosophy for structuring an entire curriculum promoting student-centered, multidisciplinary education, and lifelong learning."

- Boud, D., & Feletti, G. (1997). The challenge of problem-based learning (2nd ed.). London: Kogan Page. p. 2
If you wish your students could learn to apply a process that relies on a combination of hypothetical-deductive reasoning and expert knowledge in multiple domains, PBL is an ideal learning model to adopt (Savery, J. R. (2006). Overview of Problem-based Learning: Definitions and Distinctions.Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 1(1)). PBL is a learner-centered approach in which students learn through instructor facilitated problem solving that asks students to conduct research, integrate theory and practice, and apply knowledge and skills to develop a reasonable solution to a complex problem. Students often work in collaborate groups to identify, engage and apply new knowledge to the problem, ultimately reflecting on what they have learned. The success of PBL is dependent upon the following factors (as described in Hmelo-Silver, C. E. (2004). Problem-based learning: What and how do students learn? Educational Psychology Review, 16(3), 235-266): 
  1. Students must have responsibility for their own learning. 
  2. The problems addressed in PBL must allow for free inquiry.
  3. Learning should be integrated because multiple perspectives lead to a more thorough understanding of the issues and the development of a more robust solution.
  4. Collaboration is essential.
  5. What students learn through self-directed aspects of the work should be shared with the group and how that information might impact the development of a solution to the problem.
  6. A closing analysis of what has been learned and reflection on what they know, what they learned, and how they performed.
  7. The activities carried out in PBL must be authentic to the real world.
  8. Student learning should be evaluated by progress towards the goals of problem-based learning.
Are you interested in implementing PBL into your course? If so, contact the CTL for a consultation. (teaching@berkeley.edu(link sends e-mail)(link sends e-mail)