The effects of problem based learning on students' critical thinking skills

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Michelle Marie Lesperance (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Jolene Henning

Abstract: Athletic training educators are charged with developing effective pedagogical techniques to ensure students are skillful at critical thinking and clinical problem solving. The purpose of this research was to determine the effects of problem based learning on students' critical thinking (CT) skills and disposition., the relationship between these two constructs, whether disposition predicts skill, as well as students' perceptions of PBL. Two educational methodologies were implemented to assess the effect of PBL on critical thinking (CT) disposition and skill. Thirty-three Kinesiology students participated in this study that included two experimental groups [traditional learning (n=10) and problem-based learning (n=11) sections of ATH 1100 Prevention and Care of Emergencies and Athletic Injuries] and one control group (n=11). Critical thinking dispositions were measured by the California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI) and critical thinking skills were measured by the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST). Differences in CT disposition and skill were examined between groups at the beginning, midpoint and conclusion of the semester. Separate repeated measures ANOVAs evaluated groups across time on the CCTDI and CCTST. Results on CCTDI showed that there was a significant group effect (F(2,29) =3.443, p=.046) and group x time interaction (F(4,58) = 4.620, p=.003). There was no significant difference across time for any group (p=.871). Post hoc analyses using main effects testing revealed significant differences between groups at pre test (p=.007) and mid test (p=.044) but not at post test (p=.270) while the TL and control group scores remained unchanged over time. Results also showed that PBL did not have an effect on Critical Thinking Skill as measured by the CCTST. There was no significant differences between groups (F (2,29) = .380, p=.687), across time (F(2,29) =1.674, p=.196 ) or between groups across time (F(4,58) = 1.061, p=.384) on the CCTST. Students in the TL group scored higher on the third written exam (p=.007) (the only exam administered after implementation of PBL) than the PBL group, but there was no significant difference between groups on the final lab practical (p=.392). CT disposition did not predict CT skill at pre test (R2=.001, p=.855) or post test (R2=.014, p=.518), and there were no correlations found between age, grade level, GPA or SAT scores. However, when an outlier GPA was removed, there was a significant positive correlation between CCTDI and GPA. (r=.131). Survey data showed a significant difference between groups in problem solving ability and ability to defend positions. Students in the PBL group self reported that they enjoyed the opportunity to learn on their own, and reported that PBL not only motivated them to learn but also improved their attitude towards learning. Their perceptions of their ability to search for accurate information also improved. The instructor made several observations regarding the learning environment, including the enhancement of students' motivation to learn and their ability to seek out evidence based research. Although there was no statistically significant improvement with PBL, the instructor's observations of students' motivation to learn supports the notion that it can be used as a viable alternative to traditional lecture.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2008
Athletic training, Case studies, Pedagogy, Problem based learning
Problem-based learning $x Evaluation.
Physical education and training $x Study and teaching (Higher) $z United States.
Athletic trainers $x Education (Higher)
Athletic trainers ?x Training of.

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