Problem Based Learning Resources and Exposure in higher Education: Evidence from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Kumasi--Ghana.

Author:Lamptey, Richard Bruce


Driven by integrating school learning with real-life situations, problem based learning (PBL) is recognized as an approach to instructional delivery in education. According to Wilkerson and Gijselaers, (1996), this instructional strategy is characterized by student-centered approach, where teachers act as "facilitators rather than disseminators," and "ill-structured" problems serve as the initial stimulus and structure for learning. In PBL, students work in groups and teacher facilitates the groups during a tutorial process (McPhee, 2002; Hmelo-Silver, 2004). Deo, (2013) states that a typical PBL tutorial consists of a group of students, usually 8 to 10 and a teacher, who facilitates the lesson.

Initially, PBL appeared to be of interest exclusively in medical education. However, at present it is well recognized and has been implemented in educational programs in a variety of disciplines. A web-based report indicates that, there has been a strong trend of acceptance toward the use of PBL by many successful and progressive universities across the world (Acs distance education, 2015). Studies on PBL are in diverse dimensions covering areas such as student learning, student roles, instructor roles, problem design and use of technology (Hung, et al., 2008). Among others, PBL has been compared with the traditional education system and in most cases PBL is reported to be better in terms of long-term retention, skill development, satisfaction of students and teachers (Strobel, and van Barneveld, 2009). Research indicate that graduates from this form of education consistently achieve better and progress faster in their careers than graduates from comparable traditional classroom based education (Acs distance education, 2015). Nonetheless, achieving success in PBL does not come by chance. An essential component that allows successful PBL environments is the problem itself. According to Kukkamalla, et al., (2011) ineffective problem design results in failure of the learning process. Therefore, to design credible problems in PBL, facilitators' industrial experiences and exposure to real-world phenomena are required (Tik, 2014).

Introducing PBL into an institution's curriculum has several implications. Both human and infrastructural resources must be provided to allow effective leaning environments. Deo, (2013) proposed two main types of human resources required in PBL: first "facilitator" who is sufficiently trained in PBL processes and has acquired competencies in facilitation and management of group dynamics and secondly, "content expert" or "subject expert" who posses' specialization in the concerned discipline. Additionally, Coelho (2014) established that good facilitation requires proficiency in understanding the concepts behind learning theories. In PBL environments, students have access to infrastructural resources such as tutorial rooms equipped with technologies and electronic devices including interactive white boards, projectors, computers, internet, television, and telephones (Deo, 2013; Mathews-Aydinli, 2007). Moreover, other resources including books, magazines, brochures, newspapers among others are provided for students (Mathews-Aydinli, 2007).

Whilst several universities have adopted PBL and have their names recorded as part of its history, literature on PBL in the context Ghanaian universities is limited. This has brought about uncertainties as to whether universities in the country are using this educational pedagogy. In this paper, we aim to outline the experiences and review the resources that are inclined to the environments of PBL in the setting of the Kwame Nkrumah university of Science and Technology (KNUST). A study in this regard is important to the university community and to the nation at large. The managers of the university and stakeholders need to better understand the PBL capabilities among students and teachers to...

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