The relationship of problem-based learning to life-long learning

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The relationship of problem-based learning to life-long learning
Dunlap, Joanna Catherine
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ix, 204 leaves : illustrations, forms ; 28 cm


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Learning, Psychology of ( lcsh )
Problem-based learning ( lcsh )
Problem solving ( lcsh )
Learning, Psychology of ( fast )
Problem-based learning ( fast )
Problem solving ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (leaves 194-204).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Joanna Catherine Dunlap.

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36435988 ( OCLC )
LD1190.E3 1996d .D86 ( lcc )

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Joanna Catherine Dunlap
B.A., Dominican College, 1986
M.B.A., California State University, 1990
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Educational Leadership and Innovation

1996 by Joanna Catherine Dunlap
All rights reserved.

This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree by
Joanna Catherine Dunlap
has been approved

Dian E Walster
R. Scott Grabingei/

Judith A. Duffieli
A ^ v) X
Andrew R. J. Yeamen

Daniel R. Ambruso
' Date

Dunlap, Joanna Catherine (Ph.D., Educational Leadership and Innovation)
The Relationship of Problem-based Learning to Life-long Learning
Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Dian E Walster
Problem-based learning (PBL), an instructional methodology with theoretical
foundations in cognitive psychology, teaches content and skills within a knowledge
domain by using authentic problems as the stimulus and focus for student activity.
PBL fulfills distinct educational outcomes:
Students acquire an essential body of retrievable and usable
knowledge and skills;
Students are able to transfer their knowledge and skills effectively to
solve a variety of problems;
Students develop life-long learning skills to extend or improve their
knowledge base in order to remain contemporary.
Life-long learning is defined as the ability to utilize metacognitive and self-directed
learning skills to support autonomous, continuous learning throughout life. This
qualitative study examined the affect of problem-based learning (PBL) on life-long
learning. The subjects for this study were undergraduate and graduate students in a 15-
week, university course entitled Computing with C++. The course taught C++
programming syntax within the context of object-oriented design and development
Findings based on analysis of journals indicated that PBL has an overall positive
impact on students use and development of life-long learning skills. Results based on

the Fishbein and Ajzen questionnaires using cotrelation and multiple regression
techniques indicated that students intentions to utilize self-directed learning skills are
related to and a predictor of students intentions to engage in life-long learning.
However, students intentions to utilize metacognitive skills are not strongly related to
and not a predictor of students intentions to engage in life-long learning. Possible
reasons for these results are described, research issues regarding the relationship
between the development of metacognitive and self-directed learning skills and life-long
learning are examined, and prescriptions for improving PBL to better address the life-
long learning outcome are provided
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I recommend
its publication.
DianE Walster

1. INTRODUCTION................................................. 1
Statement of Problem....................................... 1
Problem-based Learning..................................... 3
Definition........................................... 3
Description.......................................... 5
Significance of the Study.................................. 9
Introduction......................................... 9
Importance of Life-long Learning.................... 11
Conclusion................................................ 16
2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE.................................... 17
Introduction.............................................. 17
PBLs Theoretical Foundations............................. 19
Rationalist View.................................... 21
Constructivist View................................. 25
Summary of PBLs Theoretical Foundations............ 29
Empirical Evidence: Support for Instructional Strategies
that Develop Life-long Learning Skills.................... 31
Intentional Learning................................ 32
Reciprocal Teaching................................. 35
Cognitive Apprenticeship............................ 38

Commonalties Across Methodologies............................. 41
Collaboration.......................................... 42
Review Activities...................................... 46
Student Autonomy....................................... 50
An Additional Commonalty:
Intrinsically Motivating Activities.................... 51
Conclusion.................................................... 54
3. DESIGN OF STUDY................................................. 56
Introduction.................................................. 56
Research Question............................................. 56
Description of Study.......................................... 57
Description of Context................................. 57
Data Collection and Analysis Strategies................ 63
Conclusion and Limitations of Study........................... 77
4. RESULTS OF STUDY................................................ 78
Introduction.................................................. 78
Metacognitive Skills.......................................... 79
Utilizing Prior Knowledge.............................. 80
Assessing Progress, Setting Goals, and
Creating Action Plans.................................. 84
Modifying Strategies................................... 90
Summary of Metacognitive Skill Section................. 95
Self-directed Learning Skills................................. 95
Choosing the Direction of Learning..................... 96
Resource Utilization...................................103

Critiquing Ability to Apply Information...............125
Summary of Self-directed Learning Skill Section.......128
Life-long Learning: Overall Intentions.......................129
Correlation Results...................................131
Multiple Regression Results...........................136
5. CONCLUSIONS.....................................................140
Research Issues Related to PBLs Impact on Life-long Learning.141
The Missing Piece of the PBL Methodology..............141
Additional Outcomes of PBL Requiring
Further Research......................................148
Summary of Research Issues............................151
Prescriptions for Enhancing PBL..............................152
Preparing Students for Collaboration..................152
Providing an Orientation to Life-long Learning........154
Helping Students Recognize Accomplishments
Along die Way.........................................155
Using Journal Writing to Encourage Reflection.........156
Reinforcing the Importance of the Life-long Learning
Summary of Prescriptions..............................160
Summary and Conclusion.......................................160

A. Human Research Committees Approval of Research Study.......163
B. Authentic Materials Introducing Library Project.............166
C. Problem-based Learning Column Structure.....................174
D. Questions for Guided Journal................................176
E. Life-long Learning Skills Questionnaire.....................179
F. Multiple Regression Results for All Measures of Intention to
Engage in Life-long Learning................................188
G. Multiple Regression Results for Life-long Learning Skills...190

Statement gfEroblsm
In a climate of rapid change, increasing innovation, and proliferating knowledge,
life-long learning is an important educational objective. In order to keep current in their
fields, people have to be willing and able to continually retool their knowledge and
skill base. The need to be a continuous learner is especially apparent in the domains of
medicine, law, business, engineering, and information technology because of the
overwhelming explosion of information and technological advances in those fields.
Nash (1994) reports:
More than 6,000 scientific journal articles are written every day;
Scientific and technical information currently increases 13 percent a year
which means that this information doubles every 5.S years;
The rate of increase will soon jump to 40 percent per year due to the
increasingly powerful information systems and the increasing population of
scientists; and
These increases will cause the scientific database to double every 20
Because of the exponential growth rate of the information explosion, knowledge and
skills become obsolete before acquisition, let alone mastery, is possible.

The information age poses new problems for educators trying to prepare students to
be successful in their professional lives. Within the time constraints of a semester,
educators are finding that they are unable to:
cover all the content within the domain;
expose students to the range of problems and tasks they will have to address
on-the-job; and
prepare them for the certain changes and innovations that will occur within
the domain.
To effectively address the impact of the information explosion on the preparation of
students for the future, professional schools and educators need to utilize instructional
methodologies that help students (1) acquire content knowledge, (2) develop problem-
solving and reasoning skills, and (3) develop life-long learning skills.
To keep abreast of new...information and technology,...[professionals]
continually need to acquire new knowledge and learn new skills.
Therefore a general professional education should prepare...students to
learn throughout their professional lives rather than simply mastering
current information and techniques. (General Professional Education of
the Physician and College Preparation for Medicine panel of the
American Association of Medical Colleges, cited in Swanson,
Anderson, Abrahamson, Beaty, Bryan, Carver, Friedman, Morahan,
Reich, Rosse, & Seidel, 1993, p. S31)
Problem-based learning (PBL) is an instructional methodology that addresses all
three of these educational goals. However, little research has been conducted to
provide support for the contention that problem-based learning prepares students to be
life-long learners. This research study uses a qualitative research methodology to
discover whether problem-based learning strategies help students develop life-long
learning skills.

The subjects for this study were undergraduate and graduate students in a 15-week,
university-level course entitled Computing with C++. The course teaches C++
programming syntax within the context of object-oriented design and development
methodology. Given the dynamic nature of the information technology field in which
computer programmers work, life-long learning skills development is also a goal of the
course. The course is a PBL environment, following the instructional methodology
prescribed by leading proponents (i.e., Barrows, 1985,1986; Barrows & Tamblyn,
1980; Schmidt, 1983; Walton & Matthews, 1989).
Itobto-baged. Learning
Problem-based learning (PBL) teaches content and skills within a knowledge
domain by using key professional problems as the stimulus and focus for student
activity (Boud & Feletti, 1991). Because of this essential characteristic (Walton &
Matthews, 1989), PBL meets employers needs by producing distinct educational
outcomes (Barrows, 1985, 1986; Bridges, 1992; Gijselaers, 1995a, 1995b; Savery &
Duffy, 1995):
Students acquire an essential body of retrievable and usable knowledge and
* Students are able to transfer their knowledge and skills effectively to solve a
variety of problems;

Students develop life-long learning skills (i.e., metacognitive and self-
directed learning) to extend and improve their knowledge base in order to
remain contemporary.
To meet these educational outcomes, PBL uses problems as starting points for
learning. This is different from conventional classrooms which use problems as
culminating activities after the teacher presents content In a PBL environment the
teacher presents students with authentic, ill-structured problems before they receive any
instruction. Students learn content and skills in a context that is similar to that
encountered on-the-job. Additionally, PBL fulfills students motivational needs by
involving them in meaningful, interesting problem-solving activities.
The principle idea behind PBL is...that the starting point for learning
should be a problem, a query or a puzzle that the learner wishes to
solve. (Boud, 1985, p. 13)
Problem-based learning is the learning that results from the process of
working toward the understanding or resolution of a problem (Barrows
& Tamblyn, 1980, p. 1).
Students engaged in PBL investigate issues looking for appropriate connections
across disciplines, grapple with the complexity of the problem, and use newly acquired
and existing knowledge to generate solutions. During the process, students build
substantial knowledge bases through increasingly self-directed study. Through
collaboration with classmates, students refine and enhance what they know. When a
solution is at hand, they present, justify, and debate solutions, looking for the best
possible resolution to the problem.
Content learning and skills development occur as natural consequences of solving
the problem, much the same way people in the work place learn on-the-job. In fact, in
a PBL environment, students take on the roles of scientists, doctors, historians,

programmers, engineers, advertising executives, or any others who have a stake in the
In a PBL environment, students work with problems in a manner that fosters
reasoning and knowledge application appropriate to their levels of learning. In the
process of working on the problem and with their peers, students identify areas of
learning to guide their own individualized study. The skills and knowledge acquired
through individualized study are applied back to the problem to evaluate the
effectiveness of learning and to reinforce learning. The learning that has occurred in
work with the problem and in individualized study is summarized and integrated into
the students existing knowledge structure.
As with problems faced in the real world, students encountering these ill-structured
problems do not initially have all relevant information needed to solve the problem.
Students also do not initially know how to go about generating a solution to the
presented problem. As with real world problems, students definition of the problem
may change as they collect more information, and they may have to choose a solution
from a selection of equally viable options. In this way, Problem-based learning is
apprenticeship for real-life problem solving (Stepien & Gallagher, 1993, p. 26).
Typically, a problem is presented to the class via authentic materials describing a
real world situation. Stepien and Gallagher (1993) present an example from a third-
year course in German. When the students arrive to class, they are presented with a
letter, in German, from the Nazi Ministry of Propaganda. The letter is dated 1938 and
is addressed to the Gallery Directors. Students take on the roles of the Gallery

Directors. The letter informs the Gallery Directors that they must review their art
collection and eliminate all pieces that are degenerate. They are informed that if they
disregard this request, they will face sanctions.
Work on the problem begins with activating prior knowledge to aid in die
assimilation of new information. Learners state what they already know about the
problem domain and then use that knowledge to form hypotheses or ideas about
potential solutions. Going back to the German course scenario, after coming to terms
with the content of the letter, the German teacher asks students, Was mussen wir
wissen? (What must we know?). This begins a discussion among the Directors
regarding what they know about the Nazis in the late 1930s.
hi PBL, students identify their knowledge deficiencies on their own. After
determining what they already know, students generate a list of learning issues: that is,
a list of what they need to know or understand in order to complete the problem task.
Coulson (1983) describes this as the process of self-directed learning. Students
working through a problem run into obstacles that block their progress due to
knowledge deficiencies. Each time an obstacle is met, this becomes a learning issue
that the students must address. Based on their learning issues, students generate an
action plan for researching those issues and completing the activities that need to be
done in order to complete the problem task. The action plan includes the learning
prescription, as well as possible learning resources.
Going back to Stepien and Gallaghers German course scenario, the students
quickly realize that they need more information about Nazis before they can determine
what art would be considered degenerate. This leads students to conduct research
into the events of the late 1930s in Germany. Based on their research the students

determine that 10 of their 20 pieces of art would be considered degenerate by the
Nazis. This leads to a whole new line of questioning for the students: What should we
now do about the 10 degenerate pieces? Will we only face sanctions if we dont
remove the pieces? Can the government make us eliminate these pieces? Can we
negotiate with the government? Are the pieces worth saving and risking ourselves?
Throughout the PBL activity, as well as once all of the problem issues have been
investigated and solutions have been determined and presented, students assess their
own performance in fulfilling the goals of their action plans: determining what they
know and do not know, predicting outcomes, planning ahead and setting timelines,
efficiently apportioning time and cognitive resources, effectively working
collaboratively towards a common goal, and monitoring their efforts to leam or solve a
problem (Wilkerson & Feletti, 1989). These self-evaluation activities attend to self-
regulatory or metacognitive growth (Glaser, 1984). Specifically, students reflect on
reasoning through the problem
use of resources
interaction with the group
acquisition of knowledge: content and skills
In this way, students not only abstract and summarize what they learned in terms of
content and skills, but review how they solved the problem. Students evaluate their
problem solving techniques in terms of what worked and did not work, and what needs
enhancing to be more effective next time. To this end, students examine the strategies,
processes, tools, and resources they used during the problem, making personal
recommendations for future use. The experience of creating action plans can help

students develop the skills needed to pursue self-directed learning goals and assess their
own performance in meeting those goals, as well as the self-confidence needed to
engage in these activities in the future.
In summary, PBL moves students toward the acquisition of knowledge and
development of problem-solving and life-long learning skills through a staged sequence
of problems presented in context, together with associated learning materials and
support from teachers. In working with problems, students draw on previous learning
and experience, pose questions, set personal learning goals, take responsibility for their
own learning, and teach one another through collaborative discussion (Wilkerson &
Feletti, 1989). PBL is the only known method for preparing future professionals to
be able to adapt to change, for learning how to reason critically, for enabling a holistic
approach to medicine [an ill-structured domain], and also for attaining integrated
cumulative learning (Walton & Matthews, 1989, p. 555). To fulfill the goals of
content acquisition, reasoning skill development, and life-long learning skill
development, PBL employs the following strategies (Bridges, 1992):
The starting point for learning is a problem.
The problem is authentic, reflecting the types of problems students are apt to
face in the future as professionals.
The content students are expected to acquire is organized around problems
rather than disciplines.
Students, individually and collectively, assume a major responsibility for
their own instruction and learning.

Significance of the Study
Since PBLs introduction in medical schools such as Case Western Reserve
University and McMaster University in the 1960s, a significant amount of research has
been conducted to assess the effectiveness of PBL as an instructional methodology.
Researchers have examined the extent to which the basic assumptions described
previously have an empirical basis (Norman & Schmidt, 1992; Schmidt, 1983,1993).
However, research studies that have been conducted to examine learning outcomes
whether PBL really fulfills its instructional objectives have focused on answering
variations of the following two main questions:
Does PBL provide students with an adequate knowledge base?
Should PBL curriculum replace conventional curriculum?
Those variations have included studies into the amount of content acquired in a PBL
classroom versus a conventional classroom, whether or not students like PBL activities
(student satisfaction), and whether or not students develop reasoning skills in a PBL
environment (for reviews of research, see Albanese & Mitchell, 1993; Vernon & Blake,
Although life-long learning is an instructional objective of PBL, thus far,
researchers have shown little interest in examining the effectiveness of PBL in
promoting life-long learning skills (Bridges, 1992). One study reported that PBL
students borrowed more material from the library during their PBL course and
subsequent clerkships than students in a conventional course (Blumberg & Michael,

1992). The researchers used their findings to show that PBL students actually acquire
more self-directed skills than do conventional students.
Another study on life-long learning compared a PBL program to a conventional
program by asking the following question:
Do graduates of the problem-based, self-directed learning medical
program at MU [McMaster University, Hamilton, Ont] who go on to
primary care careers keep up to date with recommendations for the care
of hypertensive patients any differently than graduates of the traditional
medical program at the University of Toronto (UT)? (Shin, Haynes, &
Johnston, 1993, p. 970)
Shin et al. (1993) found that graduates from the PBL program scored higher on a
written test on hypertension than graduates from a conventional program ten years after
graduation (although data was not corrected for possible baseline differences in
knowledge or for differential retention of knowledge). The researchers suggest these
findings support the PBL hypothesis that PBL students acquire self-directed learning
skills that are sustained beyond the duration of their PBL course.
To begin to fill the gap in the literature around the issue of PBLs ability to help
students develop life-long learning skills, this study examines how PBL impacts
students ability and willingness to assume responsibility for their own subsequent
learning: in other words, to engage in life-long learning. This study examines this
issue by collecting data around two questions:
Does PBL help students develop the metacognitive skills of self-monitoring
and self-assessment?
Does PBL help students develop the skills required to engage in continued,
self-directed learning?

Importance of Life-long Learning
Lifelong learning is any purposeful learning that an individual engages
in throughout the life is an activity engaged gain greater
individual self-fulfillment and to improve die quality of life for the
individual and die emerging society. To achieve this requires moving
away from a view of learning that is controlled outside the individual to
a view of learning that is internally controlled by the individual.
(Overly, McQuigg, Silvemail, & Coppedge, 1980)
The knowledge explosion requires professionals to engage in life-long learning if
they intend to stay currentlet alone evolve, advance, and remain competitivein
their profession. Therefore, life-long learning skill development is imperative if
practitioners are expected to learn over the full expanse of their professional lives.
Unfortunately, some of the practitioners that most need life-long learning skills
those with careers in ill-structured, complex professions are not developing them
during their formal education. Regarding the lack of life-long learning skill
development in schools, Walton and Matthews (1989, p. 551) state, Some doctors
from medical schools with the usual type of curriculum behave as if they had been
immunized against further learning, and many doctors often do not continue to learn
sufficiently. Supporting this, researchers studying physicians performance on a
recertification examination in which all questions were categorized as old, new, or
changing knowledge found that the physicians decline in performance over time after
graduation was attributed to the physicians inability to acquire new and changing
knowledge, not as a result of forgetting previously acquired knowledge (Day, Norcini,
Webster, Viner, & Chirico, 1988).
We teach most effectively when we help our students learn how to leam...not
what to think and make and do in [the current year]; but how to think and how to learn
for those years of life and profession than lie ahead (Nash, 1994, p. 789). PBL

encourages life-long learning behavior by emphasizing die development of
metacognitive and self-directed learning skills. For the purposes of this study, the
ability to engage in life-long learning is defined as the development, and subsequent
successful application, of two skill areas: metacognition and self-directedness.
Metacognition. Metacognition is an area of focus for many researchers. Von
Wright (1992, p. 64) defines metacognitive skills as the steps that people take to
regulate and modify the progress of their cognitive activity: to learn such skills is to
acquire procedures which regulate cognitive processes. Glaser (1984) describes
metacognitive or self-regulatory skills as knowing what one knows and does not know,
predicting outcomes, planning ahead, efficiently apportioning time and cognitive
resources, and monitoring ones efforts to solve a problem or leam. Metacognitive
skills include taking conscious control of learning, planning and selecting strategies,
monitoring the progress of learning, correcting errors, analyzing the effectiveness of
learning strategies, and changing learning behaviors and strategies when necessary
(Ridley, Schutz, Glanz, & Weinstein, 1992).
For the purposes of this study, metacognition is defined as an individuals
knowledge about their own cognitive processes and their ability to control these
processes by organizing, monitoring, and modifying them as a function of learning
outcomes (Weinstein & Mayer, 1986, p. 323). Metacognitive skills, therefore, enable
people to monitor and control conscious cognitive processes. The specific skills that
empower people to utilize their metacognitive abilities are referred to learner-managed
learning (Long, 1990) or as self-regulatory skills (Redding, 1990). Learner-
managed learning includes the ability to self-assess, set goals, develop action plans,
and assess progress. Self-regulatory skills include:

the recognition of content and skill limitations;
the ability to set goals and create action plans based on those limitations;
die ability to activate the appropriate prior knowledge (content and skills)
strategies, tactics, and processes to achieve goals;
the ability to accurately assess progress in learning and task performance;
an awareness of what still needs to be completed to reach a set goal, and
how best to allocate time and resources; and
the ability to modify strategies, tactics, and processes based on the needs of
the task at hand.
Because it involves these learner-managed learning or self-regulatory skills,
metacognition can have a positive impact on problem solving ability and the transfer of
knowledge across domains and tasks if developed during instruction (Bereiter &
Scardamalia, 1985; Bransford, Sherwood, Vye, & Rieser, 1986). In fact, if not
developed, students have difficulty recognizing when they have failed to adequately
meet learning goals or complete tasks (Bransford et al., 1986). Since these are skills
utilized by successful practitioners and experts (Chi, Feltovich, & Glaser, 1981;
Bransford et al., 1986), adequately developed metacognitive ability is needed in order
to engage in effective problem solving and reasoning activities.
To be successful, students must develop the self directed learning skills
needed [within the domain]. They must be able to develop strategies for
identifying learning issues and locating, evaluating, and learning from
resources relevant to that issue. (Savery & Duffy, 1995, p. 143).
PBL was developed to deal with a variety of issues related to the development of
medical practitioners. One issue in particular was the need to prepare medical students

to stay current in their field by helping them develop strategies for information
collecting, analyzing, synthesizing, and assessing.
When dealing with real patients, the doctor has to begin assessing the patients
condition before having all of the data necessary to evaluate, diagnose, and treat die
patient Characteristically, the patient provides the doctor with fragments of
information (My stomach hurts. I cant hold any food down. No one else in my
family is experiencing any problems.). The rest of the information needed to solve the
patients problem comes from the study of a variety of other resources: patient and
family history, laboratory results, x-rays, other doctors opinions, past experiences,
similar cases in the case file, and current research findings on new diagnostic and
treatment procedures. The doctor has to determine what information is needed, what
resource should be used to acquire the information needed, how to use the resource
effectively, how to come to terms with opposing or contradictory information, and how
to apply the information acquired to the problem to achieve a solution for the patient
These skills are described as self-directed learning skills (Barrows, 1985,1986).
Barrows (1985, p. 7) states that through involvement in a PBL environment
students develop the ability to:
...extend or improve their knowledge base to keep contemporary in their
eventual fiekL.and to [generate] appropriate [solutions] for the new or
unique problems they face in their work This is self-directed learning.
There are several components in this skilL... [One] component is the
proper formulation of learning needs to determine the best resources for
satisfying that need in terms of efficiency and resource availability.
Another component is the proper use of available resources.... Self-
learning is not finished until the knowledge and skills that have been
newly acquired through self-study are properly encoded in memory for
subsequent recall and use.

According to Walton and Matthews (1989), students engaged in PBL environments are
better able to develop these self-directed learning skills than those taught by more
conventional methods.
When faced with a problem or learning requirement on the job, self-directed
learners use a variety of resources to acquire the necessary information to solve the
problem or meet the learning need. Although some educators focus on the issues of
self-leadership, self-motivation, and self-efficacy when describing self-directed
learning skills (Caffarella & ODonnell, 1987; Manz & Manz, 1991), for the purposes
of this study Knowles (1975) definition of self-directed learning is used:
The process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the
help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning
gods, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing
and implementing learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes.
Supporting this definition of self-directed learning, Barrows (1995) defines the process
of self-directed learning as utilizing the following skills to solve a problem or fulfill a
learning requirement:
the ability to identify and define a problem/leaming need;
the ability to identify, find, use, and critique resources for solving the
problem or meeting the learning requirement;
the ability to capture and apply information from resources to the problem or
learning need; and
the ability to critique information, skills, and processes used to solve the
problem or meet the learning requirement
hi summary, life-long learning skills, specifically metacognitive and self-directed
learning skills, need to be developed if educators intend for their students to stay
current in their fields. Staying abreast of new innovations, research, techniques, and

information is a prerequisite for successful decision-making and problem-solving on-
the-job. PBL is an instructional methodology that purports to nurture the development
of life-long learning skills by engaging students in authentic, problem-centered learning
experiences in which they are responsible for making decisions across all phases of the
Although PBLs theoretical foundation prescribes the application of specific
instructional strategies that may lead to students developing life-long learning skills,
little research has been conducted to support this position. This qualitative study begins
to fill this gap in the literature by answering two questions:
Does PBL help students develop the metacognitive skills of self-monitoring
and self-assessment?
Does PBL help students develop the skills required to engage in continued,
self-directed learning?
The main contribution of this study to existing literature is to provide information
on the impact of PBL on the development and intended future utilization of life-long
learning skills. This study describes PBLs impact on the development of life-long
learning skills and attempts to predict students ability to engage in life-long learning.
The results of this study are used to (1) examine the research issues regarding the
relationship between students ability to utilize life-long learning skills and their
intention to engage in life-long learning and (2) make recommendations for improving
PBLs ability to fulfill the life-long learning educational objective.

The development of life-long learning skills is an important educational objective of
problem-based learning (PBL). PBL works towards this objective during each phase
of the PBL process. In phase 1 referred to by Barrows (1985, p. 62) as reasoning
through the problem and identifying educational needs in counterpoint students
reason aloud through the presented problem, defining what they know and do not
know, formulating hypotheses, clarifying understanding through negotiation, critiquing
peers comments about the problem, and setting educational goals and creating action
plans to meet those goals. With tutor coaching and scaffolding, these activities help
students develop the self-monitoring skills necessary to identify learning needs by
making their internal thinking processes overt The development of self-monitoring
skills is an important part of being metacognitive and, therefore, contributes to
students ability to be life-long learners.
During the self-directed study phasephase 2 of a PBL activity, students
carry out their action plans by engaging in self-study. Students determine how long it
will take to address an action plan item, create a timeline, and determine the required
resources. This process helps students develop self-directed learning skills which is a
critical component of life-long learning.
During phase 3, when students apply the information acquired during self-study to
the problem, students critique the resources used during self-study as well as their

personal research methods. By critiquing the resources and their research methods,
students acquire insight as to what resources were helpful and why, what research
methods were productive and why, and what resources and methods did not work,
why, and how they can be improved for the future. Constant assessment of
information sources and personal processes is critical for life-long learning.
The final phase summary and integration of learning is an important phase in
PBL; if phase 4 is skipped or cut short, then the full impact of students PBL
experience is lost During this phase, students summarize what they have learned and
discuss how it will be used during future problems. Students consciously recall and
reflect on the learning that occurred while they were solving the problem, elaborate on
that learning, and integrate it into their existing knowledge structures (Barrows, 1985).
Because it focuses students attention on their learning processes, this activity further
builds the metacognitive skills needed for life-long learning.
According to Barrows (1985), this educational cycle of problem analysis, learning
needs determination, self-study, application of knowledge, critiquing of resources and
personal problem-solving processes, and overall reflection on what was learned during
the activity develops students life-long learning skills. The PBL process engages
students in activities that (1) make their thinking processes overt so they can monitor
and assess the effectiveness of their problem analysis, reasoning skills, and knowledge
acquisition decisions and processes and (2) encourage and enable them to assume more
and more responsibility for their own instruction and learning (Barrows, 1985;
Bridges, 1992).
However, little research has been conducted on the actual impact of PBL on the
development of students life-long learning skills (e.g., Blumberg & Michael, 1992;

Shin, Hayes, & Johnson, 1993). Nevertheless, theoretical and empirical evidence that
PBL has a positive impact on life-long learning skills development can be derived by
examining the theoretical foundation of PBL and the empirical support surrounding the
use of certain instructional strategies that develop life-long learning skills. The first
section of this chapter presents the theoretical foundations of PBL, examining learning
assumptions, principles, and instructional strategies. The second section describes
other instructional methodologies that (1) are based on the same theoretical foundations
as PBL, and (2) are using the same instructional strategies as PBL to help students
become life-long learners. The similarities of these instructional methodologies in
terms of employed strategies and tactics are described and compared to PBL strategies
and tactics. The similarities are presented as further empirical support that certain
instructional strategies and tactics, such as those employed in a PBL environment, help
students develop life-long learning skills.
PBLs Theoretical Foundations
Recognizing that conventional classroom instruction was not adequately preparing
medical students to transfer the information and skills they were learning in school to
the demands of a medical practice, medical school educators conceived PBL.
Therefore, PBL was developed by educators based on practical ramifications, not
because of existing theoretical support Nevertheless, PBL reflects the theoretical
perspectives of cognitive science, acknowledging the macro-level contributions of
Piaget Bruner, and Dewey (Norman & Schmidt 1992; Schmidt 1983,1993,1995;
Wilkerson & Feletd, 1980). These contributions are summarized in Table 2.1.

Table 2.1
Theoretigal-Contributions-tP PPL
Theorist Contribution
Jean Piaget Children develop intellectually and learn through direct physical experience (Victor, 1974). The quest for equilibration the process of accommodation when new information/experience cannot be assimilated with existing knowledge is the stimulus for learning (Piaget, 1977). Knowing is a process of constructing systems of transformations that model reality (Piaget, 1970).
Jerome Bruner Bruners (1959,1971) notion of intrinsic motivation as an internal force that drives people to know more about their world has also influenced PBL methodology. In fact, one of the most widely documented merits of PBL is the way in which it motivates students to engage in the learning process (Walton & Matthews, 1989). Discovery learning: students learn on their own by exploring, altering, and manipulating die parameters of their environment in order to discover and examine all possible outcomes (Bruner, 1961,1966), arousing students curiosity and motivating them to continue working until they find answers (Berlyne, 1965). We teach a subject not to produce litde living libraries on that subject, but rather to get a student to think...for himself, to consider matters as an historian does, to take part in the process of knowledge-getting. Knowing is a process, not a product (Bruner, 1966, p. 72)
John Dewey Dewey (1929,1933) stressed the importance of helping children develop independent learning skills through their interaction with and response to real-life events. Emphasis on everyday relevance and on the importance of active, self-directed learning. Dewey (1929,1933) believed that knowledge could not be transferred from one person to another (e.g., from teacher to student), but had to be actively acquired and mastered as a result of personal cognitive activity. Theme-based learning: Use problems as a starting point and organizer for learning; learning is the result of responding to, and I interacting with, real world events.

Although the works of these theorists provide a macro-level theoretical structure, PBL
is linked to two different theoretical orientations within the cognitive science domain: a
rationalist (information processing) view of learning (Albanese & Mitchell, 1993;
Norman & Schmidt, 1992; Schmidt, 1983,1993) and a constructivist view of learning
(Grabinger, in press; Savery & Duffy, 1995; Stinson & Milter, 1995). Both of these
views of learning have at their core the assumption that certain learning activities must
occur to avoid the possibility of inert knowledge and enable students to transfer what
they learn, including life-long learning skills, to future real world activities.
According to Norman and Schmidt (1992), PBL is an instructional methodology
that stands firm within the rationalist tradition and has, therefore, been influenced by
cognitive psychology. A rationalist view of learning assumes that knowledge of the
world is primarily a product of individual cognitive activity (Schmidt, 1993).
According to Dewey (1933), knowledge cannot be transferred from one individual to
another, but must be mastered by the individual as a result of active cognitive
engagement According to a rationalist view, the reason knowledge cannot be
transferred between people is because of the existence of already available cognitive
structures that impact the extent to which new information can be understood. Bruner
(1961, p. 32) elaborates on this point* general, material that is organized in terms
of a persons own interests and cognitive structures is material that has the best chance
of being accessible in memory. This assumption about learning is the foundation for
the information processing view of cognition focused on describing the processing,
storage, and retrieval of knowledge (Slavin, 1994) and its cognitive representation

(Bednar, Cunningham, Duffy, & Perry, 1991). A neo-Piagetian view of cognition, the
information processing view tends to reflect Piagets description of cognition except,
unlike Piaget, it reflects the belief that thinking skills can be directly taught (Slavin,
Rationalist Principles. Reflecting an information processing view of cognition,
Schmidt (1983,1993) describes six principles of PBL methodology. These six
principles reflect the information processing concepts of long-term memory, schemata
and semantic networks (schema theory), and meaningful learning to counter inert
knowledge 1;
(1) The amount of existing prior knowledge is the key determinant of the
amount of new information that can be processed. Prior knowledge and its
structure in long-term memory determines what is understood from
instruction and defines what is learned from that instruction (Rumelhart &
Ortony, 1977).
(2) In order to understand and remember new information, prior knowledge
needs to be activated by cues embedded in the context of which the
information is being presented. Existing knowledge must be activated to
enable the interpretation of newly presented information so it can be added
to the existing knowledge structure (Bransford & Johnson, 1972;
Jonassen, 1985).
(3) Knowledge is structured, therefore, accessibility of knowledge is based on
how it is structured in memory. Human learning requires...the

construction of organized schemata for storing, retaining, and retrieving
memories... (Jonassen, 1985, p. 30)
(4) Elaboration on the information improves the storing and retrieving of
information in memory. Understanding is more likely to occur when
individuals actively transform information and integrate it into existing
cognitive structures (Wittrock, 1990). ...Instruction which causes the
learner to generate distinctive associations between stimuli and memory
facilitates long-term recall and understanding (Wittrock, 1974, p. 94).
Elaborations, such as discussing subject matter to be learned with peers
(Rudduck, 1978), teaching peers what has already been learned (Bargh &
Schul, 1980), or formulating and criticizing hypotheses for a problem
(Schmidt, 1982 cited in Schmidt, 1983), provide redundancy a safe-
guard against forgetting and an aid to rapid retrievalin the memory
structure (Anderson & Redo-, 1979; Reder, 1980).
(5) According to Tulving and Thompson (1973), the successful future retrieval
of information depends on encoding retrieval cues with the information.
Therefore, in order to make knowledge in long-tom memory available for
use, contextual cues must be employed.
(6) Through motivation, processing time is prolonged, improving
achievement Motivation is intertwined with effectiveness and learner
performance... (Keller & Burkman, 1993, p. 5).

PBL Strategies from a Rationalist View. Based on information processing
assumptions about cognition and learning, a PBL activity employs particular
instructional strategies and tactics (Schmidt, 1993)2;
(1) By engaging students in problem analysis in which they articulate what
they know and do not know about the problem, relevant prior knowledge
is activated.
(2) Students elaborate on prior and new knowledge by engaging in small
group discussion and collaboration (Schmidt, De Voider, De Grave,
Moust, & Patel, 1989). Further, during the review process that occurs at
die end of a PBL activity, students elaborate even more on the relationship
between prior and new knowledge (Albanese & Mitchell, 1993).
(3) Because the problem drives the learning of content and skills, students
continuously restructure knowledge (construct an appropriate semantic
network) as they work toward a solution.
(4) Authentic problems that reflect the types of problems students will face as
professionals save as a scaffold for storing contextual cues, improving
students ability to retrieve relevant knowledge when faced with similar
problems in the future.
(5) Because the authentic problems are perceived by students as relevant and
meaningful, students motivation is enhanced (Blumenfeld, Soloway,
Marx, Krajcik, Guzdial, & Palincsar, 1991; Pintrich, Marx, & Boyle,
1993), causing them to spend more time processing information (Albanese
& Mitchell, 1993). More time spent processing information means a more
complete cognitive structure (more connections) from which to retrieve

information. Also, group discussion aimed at clarifying viewpoints and
addressing multiple perspectives stimulates motivation (Johnson &
Johnson, 1979; Lowry & Johnson, 1981).
Prom a rationalist view of learning, PBL utilizes instructional strategies that help
students process and store knowledge in such a way that it can be easily retrieved when
needed in the future. By helping students (1) activate prior knowledge, (2) connect
new knowledge to prior knowledge, (3) elaborate on knowledge to build stronger,
multiple connections in memory, and (4) structure knowledge with contextual cues,
PBL addresses the issue of inert knowledge, enabling students to apply what they have
learned to the solution of future problems.
Constructivist View
The constructivist view of learning assumes that knowledge acquisition is a
continuous process of building and reshaping understanding as a natural consequence
of experience in the world (Bednar et al., 1991; Goodman, 1984; Savery & Duffy,
1995); learning is not about the acquisition of new knowledge, but the constant
reconstruction of what someone already knows (Forman & Pufall, 1988; Fosnot,
1989). The stimulus for knowledge acquisition is cognitive conflict or puzzlement
(Savery & Duffy, 1995). Accordingly, learners must constantly check new
information against old rules and adjust those rules when they are no longer appropriate
(Slavin, 1994).
Besides being a continuous process, learning is also seen as a collaborative process
in which individual understanding has its roots in social interactions (Vygotsky, 1978).

Accordingly, knowledge acquisition is firmly embedded in the social and emotional
context in which learning takes place (Lebow, 1993, p. 6). Conceptual growth comes
from sharing perspectives and testing ideas with others, a negotiating process that
modifies internal representations (Bednar et aL, 1991). Illustrating the constructivist
view, Brown, Collins, and Duguid (1989, p. 33) state:
A concept, for example, will continually evolve with each new occasion
of use, because new situations, negotiations, and activities inevitably
recast it in a new, more densely textured form. So a concept, like the
meaning of a word, is always under construction.
Constructivist Principles. Based on the constructivist view of cognition, Savery
and Duffy (1995) present a number of principles that govern the design of PBL
activities. These principles are based on the constructivist concepts of understanding via
interaction with the environment, cognitive conflict, and social negotiation^:
(1) Learning activities should be anchored to a larger context to avoid students
acquiring inert knowledge (Cognition and Technology Group at
Vanderbilt, 1990). This establishes the purpose of the learning activity,
making its relevance clear to students (Bransford, Sherwood, Hasselbring,
Kinzer, & Williams, 1990).
(2) Students should take ownership of the problem or task and the overall
learning process to ensure personal relevance and to develop self-directed
learning skills (Honebein, 1996). When students have ownership over the
problem, personal goals may be established based on cognitive conflict or
puzzlement This conflict articulated in terms of goals, is the stimulus for
knowledge acquisition.

(3) ...Knowledge is situated, being in part a product of the activity, context,
and culture in which it is developed and used (Brown et al., 1989, p. 32).
Because understanding is developed as a natural consequence of interaction
with the environment, learning activities should be authentic, reflecting the
types of interactions students are likely to face in the real world
(Honebein, 1996). Authentic activities prepare learners for the cognitive
demands of the profession.
(4) Because knowledge is socially negotiated, learning activities should
encourage collaboration to provide students with opportunities to test their
ideas against alternative views and in alternative contexts.
(5) Opportunities to reflect on the learning process as well as knowledge
acquired should be embedded in learning activities to promote
metacognitive skill development
PBL Strategies from a Constructivist View. Based on these constructivist
properties and values, particular instructional strategies and tactics are employed by the
PBL methodology to have the desired cognitive effects on learning (Honebein, 1996)4;
(1) Learning is essentially an act of active construction on the part of the
student (Resnick, 1989). By requiring students to take on the roles of the
profession and engage in self-directed learning, students experience the
knowledge construction process.
(2) Through collaborative group work and the accessing of a variety of
resources, students experience and develop an appreciation for multiple

(3) Because learning is embedded in realistic contexts, students acquire content
and skills through the resolution of problems. Because the problems
students work on refer to concrete situations or events in the real world,
knowledge gain is situated and, therefore, more easily retrieved when
needed (Brown et al., 1989).
(4) Using self-directed learning activities, students are encouraged to be
responsible for their own learning.
(5) One of the key educational outcomes of constructivist learning
environments is knowing how we know: the ability to (1) analyze personal
knowledge construction processes ana (2) articulate why and how a
learning task was completed or a problem was solved (Honebein, 1996).
This self-awareness of the knowledge construction process is encouraged
during reflection activities embedded in PBLs problem-solving process
and during the review activity that occurs at the end of a problem.
From a constructivist view of learning, PBL prepares students for the requirements
of their profession by engaging them in authentic activities. Content and skills are
learned within a context that is similar to the context the knowledge will be applied and
student performance is scaffolded by a social structure that supports them during
learning and problem-solving activities. Contextualization of learning and social
support during learning help prepare students to transfer what they have learned to new
situations and avoid the pitfalls of inert knowledge.

Summary ofPBLs Theoretical Foundations
Whether examining PBL through the theoretical lens of rationalism or
constructivism, PBL fulfills three distinct educational outcomes (Barrows, 1985;
Bridges, 1992; Gijselaers, 1995a, 1995b; Savery & Duffy, 1995; Schmidt, 1993):
Students acquire an essential body of retrievable and usable knowledge and
Students transfer their knowledge and skills effectively to solve a variety of
Students develop life-long learning skills (both metacognitive and self-
directed learning skills) to extend or improve their knowledge and skills in
order to remain contemporary.
As described in this section, PBL utilizes theoretically-based instructional strategies to
meet these specific educational outcomes. Three specific instructional strategies are
proposed by both rationalist-based PBL proponents and constructivist-based PBL
proponents to address the life-long learning educational outcome: collaboration, review
activities, and student autonomy. These strategies are summarized in Table 2.2.

Table 2.2
PBL from a Rationalist and Constructivist View of Cognition
Instructional Strategy Rationalist View Constructivist View | Educational Outcome
Authentic activities Serve as scaffold for contextual cues; enhance transfer to similar problems. Prepare for cognitive demands of real world. Transfer of knowledge to future problems.
Relevant context Enhance motivation; more time spent processing; improves storing and retrieval. Establishes purpose of learning activity. Acquisition of retrievable body of knowledge.
Problem drives learning Forces relevant knowledge restructuring based on demands of the problem. Provides experience with knowledge construction process. Acquisition of retrievable body of knowledge and transfer of knowledge to future problems.
Collaboration Encourages elaboration on prior and new knowledge to improve storing and retrieval. Develops appreciation for multiple perspectives; provides forum for assessing understanding. Life-long learning, specifically metacognitive skill development
Review activities: self-awareness Encourages elaboration on prior and new knowledge to improve storing and retrieval. Develops skills in knowing how to know; improves future knowledge construction activities. Life-long learning, specifically metacognitive skill development
Student autonomy: Ownership over problem and process Activates prior knowledge. Ensures ownership of problem and process; enables personal cognitive conflict to chive learning. Life-long learning, specifically self- directed learning skill development

This section examined two different theoretical perspectives proposed as the
foundations of the PBL methodology. Based on the learning assumptions put forth by
these two views of learning, the three instructional strategies that address PBLs ability
to help students develop life-long learning skills are: collaboration, self-awareness
activities, and student autonomy. Although the two views use these three strategies in
different ways based on different assumptions, these strategies are used to fulfill the
same educational outcome. For example, from a rationalist perspective, review
activities are used to encourage students to elaborate on acquired knowledge in order to
improve storage and retrieval. From a constructivist view the same instructional
strategy review activities is used to provide students with opportunities to learn
from their learning activities in order to improve subsequent performance. Regardless
of theoretical perspective, review activities are used to help students develop the skills
needed to be life-long learners.
Empirical Evidence: Support for Instructional Strategies that
Pcvslop Lifetopg. Learning Skills
Although the previous section provides theoretical evidence that involvement in a
PBL environment can prepare students to be life-long learners, empirical evidence is
also needed to strengthen this argument This section examines three other instructional
methodologies other than PBL that use collaboration, self-awareness, and student
autonomy to help students develop the metacognitive and self-directed learning skills
needed to be life-long learners. With similar theoretical roots to PBL, these
methodologies are: intentional learning, reciprocal teaching, and cognitive
apprenticeship. Using the same instructional strategies as PBL, these methodologies
engage students in the types of cognitive activity needed to build knowledge, including

life-long learning skills, that students can transfer to new situations. In other words,
these methodologies create what Glaser (1991) refers to as knowledge-building
communities by engaging students in learning environments that employ situational and
social contexts to help students acquire actively-available knowledge.
In this section, each of these methodologies is described. Then, why and how
these methodologies use collaboration, self-awareness, and student autonomy to
develop students life-long learning (i.e., metacognitive and self-directed learning)
skills will be presented. In the final section of this chapter, the instructional strategies
and tactics will be summarized and compared to PBL to establish common activities that
empirically lead to the development of life-long learning skills.
Intentional teaming
Intentional learning is learning that is actively pursued by and controlled by the
learner (Resnick, 1989). Palincsar and Klenk (1992) describe intentional learning as an
achievement resulting from the learners purposeful, effortful, self-regulated, and active
engagement It refers to the cognitive processes that have learning as a goal rather
than an incidental outcome (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1989, p. 363). According to
Bereiter and Scardamalia (1989), conventional classroom instruction treats learning as
an activity rather than a goal. Although learning occurs, it is not the higher-order
learning needed for students to really understand what they have learned so they can
apply it in the future.
To develop high-level skills of learning from text, the student must do
more than try to answer assigned questions. The student must actively
try to grasp die central messages of the text and try to relate them to his
or her own knowledge. (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1989, p. 385)

By encouraging students to take an intentional stance toward cognition
(Scardamalia & Bereiter, 1991, p. 37), intentional learning helps students learn how to
not only monitor and be aware of their own thinking and learning processes (i.e.,
metacognitive skills), but also to take responsibility for pursuing individually-
determined learning goals (i.e., self-directed learning) (Brown & Palincsar, 1989).
Intentional Learning Strategies for Life-long Learning. The objective of an
intentional learning environment is to create a supportive structure in which students
can engage in cooperative knowledge building as they move towards greater autonomy.
Addressing students need for higher-order abilities in thinking and learning, intentional
learning helps students develop the general metacognitive and self-directed learning
skills that facilitate autonomous life-long learning (Palincsar, 1990; Scardamalia,
Bereiter, McLean, Swallow, & Woodruff, 1989), specifically the ability to;
monitor and assess how they learn, think, and solve problems, and make
adjustments when necessary;
make maximum use of existing knowledge;
engage in question asking to identify knowledge deficits and set personal
learning goals to address those deficits in positive ways;
utilize learning strategies other than rehearsal to attain learning goals;
access, apply, and evaluate appropriate resources, including peers and
teachers; and
manage the learning process (set goals, create action plans, set deadlines,
identify appropriate learning strategies).

These skills are developed by engaging students in situations in which they need to
build a body of knowledge based on their learning interests and needs using a variety of
information resources. While building the knowledge base, students practice tactics for
making claims, collecting evidence in support of their claims, and evaluating and
responding to counterarguments from peers and teachers. Through this knowledge-
building process, students reflect on specific aspects of their learning and thinking
processes, and consider the effects of collaboration on each others learning, such as
the impact of opinion, bias, controversy, debate, and negotiation (Glaser, 1991).
In addition, intentional learning prepares students for self-directed learning
activities by helping them learn how to ask questions based on personal knowledge
deficits and formulate learning goals to address those deficits. Research by
Scardamalia and Bereiter (1991) indicates that students can leam to ask questions to
guide their knowledge building, thus assuming more control and ownership over their
learning activities. Because intentional learning emphasizes question generation to
guide goal attainment, students acquire ownership over learning activities, find personal
relevance during learning activities, and develop skills needed to be life-long learners.
In summary, an intentional learning environment helps students to be more
intentional, and therefore more metacognitive and self-directed, by utilizing
instructional tactics that promote student autonomy. The student autonomy tactics
employed in an intentional learning environment include:
providing students with opportunities for independent learning;
modeling metacognitive processes setting of cognitive goals through
question asking, use of learning strategies other than rehearsal, and self-

assessmentto demonstrate appropriate learning and thinking strategies;
engaging students in a collaborative structure in which peers and teachers
provide coaching and scaffolding as students acquire more control over and
responsibility for the learning process.
Intentional learning provides an environment that encourages and teaches students to
take more responsibility or self-direction for their own learning. Therefore, like
PBL, intentional learning helps students develop the self-directed learning skills needed
to be life-long learners.
Reciprocal Teaching
Reciprocal teaching is a teacher-led, cooperative learning methodology developed to
improve students understanding of complex text (Brown & Palincsar, 1989; Palincsar
& Brown, 1984) by providing a collaborative support structure within which novices
could take on greater responsibility for more expert roles (Brown & Palincsar, 1989).
Palincsar and Klenk (1992, p. 213) describe reciprocal teaching as: instructional procedure that takes place in a collaborative learning
group and features guided practice in the flexible application of four
concrete strategies to the task of text comprehension: questioning,
summarizing, clarifying, and predicting. The teacher and group of
students take turns leading discussions regarding the content of the text
they are jointly attempting to understand.
The reciprocal teaching methodology was initially developed to address the needs of
seventh graders with low-normal intelligence whose scores on standardized reading
comprehension tests were about three years below average. Within this context,
Palincsar and Brown developed the reciprocal teaching methodology to help students
develop four basic learning strategies to improve comprehension of expository text:

questioning, summarizing, clarification of difficulties, and making a prediction about
upcoming content (Brown & Palincsar, 1989). Since reading comprehension is an
important ability to develop, the reciprocal teaching methodology may also be
appropriate for other student groups.
The collaborative support structure utilized in a reciprocal teaching environment has
its roots in Vygotskys notion of the zone of proximal development (Brown &
Palincsar, 1989).
The zone of proximal development is the distance between the actual
development level as determined by independent problem solving and
the level of potential development as determined through problem
solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable
peers. (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 86)
Reciprocal teaching is designed to provide a zone of proximal development in which
students, with the help of teachers and peers, take on greater responsibility for learning
activities. Reciprocal teaching creates this zone by involving students in a collaborative
group structure that guides and scaffolds them as they develop reading-comprehension
skills (Collins, Brown, & Holum, 1991)^.
Reciprocal teaching helps students develop the comprehension-monitoring and
comprehension-fostering skills (Le., metacognitive skills) needed to improve reading
comprehension (Slavin, 1994). Through teacher modeling of reading comprehension
skills and student practice of skills during cooperative discussions that focus the
students attention on understanding both (1) the texts content and (2) the reading
comprehension strategies being practicing, reciprocal teaching helps students develop
skills that are required for life-long learning.
Reciprocal Teaching Strategies for Life-long Learning. In a reciprocal teaching
environment the teacher models learning strategies in a problem context that is shared

directly and immediately with students in order to make explicit the cognitive processes
that have to occur in order to comprehend text; the modeling process decomposes the
reading comprehension task so students can see how the strategies work and how to go
about applying the strategies themselves (Collins et aL, 1991). By doing this, the
teacher encourages students to focus their attention on their observations of the teacher
and then to reflect on their own performance as compared to the teachers during then-
use of the reading comprehension skills (Collins, Brown, & Newman, 1989).
The reciprocal teaching process begins with the class reading an excerpt from a text
After the excerpt is read, the teacher demonstrates the reading comprehension skills by
articulating the questions that need to be asked about the excerpt in order to clarify
understanding, summarizing the text making predictions about what will happen next
in the text and discussing what parts of the excerpt were personally problematic.
During this phase, students listen to the teacher in the context of knowing that they will
have to undertake the same task. This focuses their attention on how the teachers
activities relate to the excerpt
Then, with the teacher scaffolding student performance, each student takes on the
role of the teacher for a new text excerpt modeling the reading comprehension
strategies for peers the same way the teacher did and guiding the direction of the
groups discussion. Throughout other students respond to the questions, raise then-
own questions, and, in cases of disagreement or confusion, reread the text
Because these activities take place in a collaborative environment immediate
feedback is provided by peers and the teacher, helping students to (1) clarify their
understanding of the text and (2) effectively utilize the reading comprehension

The collaborative structure also helps students form a new conceptual model of the
task of reading. By articulating their understanding and critiquing others
understanding, students experience reading as a process that involves reflection and
prediction rather than just the recitation of words. They learn to relate what they are
reading to their needs, monitor their progress, and strive for understanding. This
process of reflection and articulation within a collaborative group structure makes
students thinking observable, enabling students to analyze, critique, understand, and
improve their reading comprehension strategies (Glaser, 1991). This kind of self-
awareness is critical to life-long learning activities (Collins & Brown, 1988).
In summary, with reciprocal teaching students generate their own learning goals, do
their own activating of prior knowledge, ask their own questions, direct their own learning
activity, and do their own comprehension monitoring (Brown & Palincsar, 1989; Palincsar
& Brown, 1984). By teaching students how to flexibly apply the metacognitive and self-
directed learning strategies of questioning, summarizing, clarifying, and predicting,
reciprocal teaching develops skills integral to life-long learning.
Cognitive Apprenticeship
Cognitive apprenticeship is an instructional methodology that supports the
acquisition, development, and use of domain-specific cognitive tools by engaging
students in authentic domain activities (Brown et aL, 1989). Modeled after the
traditional apprenticeship way of learning arts and crafts, cognitive apprenticeship
makes the usually invisible cognitive processes of an activity visible so they can be
observed, practiced, and mastered with help from the teacher and other students
(Collins et aL, 1989). In order to address the problems of inert knowledge, learning

activities are embedded in a variety of authentic contexts, creating a rich web of
memorable associations between them [concepts and facts] and problem-solving
concepts (Collins etal., 1989, p. 457). Cognitive apprenticeship focuses on the
leaming-through-guided-experience [of] cognitive and metacognitive, rather than
physical, skills and processes (Collins et al., 1989, p. 457).
Cognitive apprenticeship teaches students the processes that experts use when
addressing complex tasks within a professional domain. To this end, cognitive
apprenticeship activities create a learning environment in which students not only
acquire the conceptual and factual knowledge of a domain, but also the problem-solving
strategies and heuristics, control strategies (metacognitive skills), and learning
strategies (self-directed learning skills) of the domain (Collins et al., 1989). Therefore,
just as the format of traditional apprenticeship helps an apprentice learn how to use the
tools of the trade, cognitive apprenticeship helps students learn how to use the cognitive
tools required for life-long learning by enabling students to acquire, develop, and use
cognitive and metacognitive tools as they engage in authentic domain activity (Brown et
al., 1989).
Cognitive Apprenticeship Strategies for Life-long Learning. To help students
develop metacognitive and self-directed learning skills, cognitive apprenticeship
employs: modeling, coaching, scaffolding and fading, articulation, reflection, and
exploration (Collins et aL, 1989; Collins et al., 1991). The first three strategies
modeling, coaching, and scaffolding/fadinghelp students develop cognitive and
metacognitive skills via observation and guided, supported practice. Articulation and
reflection help students focus on their problem solving processes through elaborative
activity in order to acquire conscious access to and control over their own metacognitive

and self-directed learning processes and strategies (Collins et aL, 1989). Exploration
encourages learner responsibility and autonomy in solving problems.
In a cognitive apprenticeship environment, these six instructional strategies make
cognitive processes that are normally invisible visible, just as in a traditional
apprenticeship a tailor makes sewing processes visible to an apprentice. For example, a
teacher may first model a cognitive task by thinking aloud while performing it, making
the thinking processes visible to students. Then the teacher watches, coaches, and
provides feedback and support as students practice portions of the task. As students
demonstrate their ability to complete tasks on their own, the teacher gradually removes
supports, turning over more and more responsibility for the learning process to
Cognitive apprenticeship also encourages students to articulate and reflect on
activities so they can elaborate on the learning that has occurred during the modeling-
coaching-scaffolding/fading cycle. For the same reasons the review phase is used in
PBL, articulation and reflection activities make tacit cognitive activities overt and
observable so students can assess what they have learned, what worked and did not
work, and what they will do differently in the future.
Finally, when supports have been faded and students are able to monitor and assess
their own learning and thinking processes, exploration is possible. Students need to
engage in exploratory activities to learn how to engage in problem-solving activities,
from start to finish, on their own (Collins et al., 1989). In other words, learning how
to engage in exploration enables students to be self-directed learners.
Throughout this process, cognitive apprenticeship helps students develop the skills
needed to be autonomous learners by engaging them in the activities of the authentic

domain: the domain in which the skills and knowledge they are learning is applied.
Part of the authentic domain that cognitive apprenticeship activities reflect is the social
context in which learning occurs. Learning, both outside and inside school, advances
through collaborative social interaction and the social construction of knowledge
(Brown et al., 1989, p. 40). In a cognitive apprenticeship environment, collaboration
provides students with an additional source of scaffolding during learning and problem-
solving activities. Collaborative learning and problem-solving requires students to
share their knowledge and skills, giving them additional opportunities to clarify
understanding and assess overall processes; sharing knowledge and skills with others
fosters the situated articulation of processes and concepts, helping students acquire
conscious access to and control of cognitive and metacognitive processes (Collins et
al., 1989).
By employing a combination of modeling, coaching, scaffolding/fading, articulation
and reflection, and exploration, cognitive apprenticeship helps students understand and
consciously control their learning and thinking processes, enabling them to become more
autonomous during future learning and problem-solving activities. Reflecting the
situational and social context of learning, cognitive apprenticeship encourages students to
reflect, assess, and elaborate on their use of cognitive tools so they can use them in the
future during life-long learning activities.
Commonalties Across Methodologies
The instructional methodologies described in the preceding section create
knowledge-building communities that fulfill three educational objectives:

Students acquire an essential body of retrievable and usable knowledge and
Students transfer their knowledge and skills effectively to solve a variety of
Students develop life-fong learning skills (both metacognitive and self-
directed learning skills) to extend or improve their knowledge and skills to
remain contemporary.
This study examines how PBL impacts the development of life-long learning skills.
Therefore, the focus of this chapter has been on the instructional strategies and tactics
employed by other similar methodologiesmethodologies that share a common
theoretical foundation, educational outcomes, and instructional strategies to prepare
students to be life-long learners. These instructional methodologies engage students in
activities that make their learning and thinking processes overt and provide them with
various kinds of environmental supports. This is done by employing the instructional
strategies of:
review activities, and
student autonomy activities.
This section summarizes how these methodologies use these strategies to fulfill the life-
long learning objective. Commonalties across these methodologies are described and
related to the strategies and tactics used by PBL.
Instructional methodologies focusing on the development of life-long learning skills
employ collaboration to promote thinking because collaborative activities engage

students in an interactive approach to learning (Johnson & Johnson, 1986). The
methodologies presented in this chapter recognize the importance of collaboration,
social cognition, and the social context of learning. The social contextmanifested in
collaborative group activities elevates thinking, learning, and problem-solving to an
observable status (Glaser, 1991), making students' metacognitive processes apparent
This provides students with opportunities for understanding and sharing these
processesrefining, strengthening, and extending their metacognitive skills (Von
Wright, 1992).
Collaboration and using peers as resources plays an important role in PBL. First
PBL employs collaboration to provide students with opportunities to see and hear how
other students approach and solve problems. Because the students in a collaborative
group are working closely together, students are able to share ideas and perspectives,
as well as help each other clarify issues. This is important in helping students develop
metacognitive skills.
Second, PBL problems are complex because they are authentic. Students may not
be used to or able to tackle a realistic problem on their own. Students working together
collaboratively can often successfully tackle problems that individual students working
alone would not be able to handle; collaborative learning can give rise synergistically
to insights and solutions that would not come about without them [the members of the
collaborative group] (Brown et al., 1989, p. 40). In other words, through
collaboration students can potentially go beyond their individual problem solving
abilities with the support of group members. Related to Vygotskys zone of proximal
development (1978), which proposes that students actively collaborating will be able
to go beyond their current development levels, the collaborative component of complex,

open-ended problem solving provides students with a supportive framework or
scaffold that allows them to accomplish activities that they would not have been able to
accomplish on their own (Brown et al., 1989).
Finally, PBL encourages articulation through collaboration. During the problem
analysis phase of PBL, students describe what they know and do not know about a
problem and what they need to learn. When preparing for self-study, students
determine how long it will take to fulfill a learning goal, what strategies they will
employ, and what resources they will access. Being able to determine learning needs
and plan a method of attack are important metacognitive skills for life-long learners.
Because students are working collaboratively during problem solving, their thinking
processesor metacognitive skillsare observable and therefore open for personal
and peer assessment and refinement Accordingly, collaboration provides students
with a support structure while they develop the metacognitive skills needed to be life-
long learners.
In intentional learning environments, students develop higher-order thinking skills
by working together to build knowledge bases. Collaborative knowledge building
requires that students articulate what they have learned, what questions are left
unanswered, and their plans for future learning. These activities force students to think
metacognitively. Also, because students are pursuing individual learning goals, the
collaborative structure provides students with guidance and coaching, through
collaborative critiquing, while they are acquiring self-directed learning skills.
Therefore, within an intentional learning environment, collaboration is used to provide
support for students as they develop the skills needed to be life-long learners.

The group discussion aspect of a reciprocal teaching activity is like the group
problem analysis phase in a PBL activity. During group discussion, students review
content (summarize), attempt to resolve misunderstandings (clarify), anticipate possible
future text development (predict), and assess what they have learned from the text
(question). These activities encourage students to articulate and bring into the open the
internal dialogue that experienced students engage in to foster comprehension. The
reciprocal teaching procedure helps students learn how to engage in that internal
dialogue by making them think aloud. Because students are thinking aloud, peers and
teachers can provide guidance and support until the reading comprehension strategies
are incorporated into students repertoire of learning strategies (Brown & Palincsar,
1989). Reliance on collaboration in reciprocal teaching is critical to the development of
the metacognitive skills needed to learn from expository textthe same metacognitive
skills needed to engage in life-long learning activities.
in a cognitive apprenticeship environment, collaboration provides additional
scaffolding while students learn cognitive and metacognitive skills (Collins et al.,
1989). Because students share knowledge during collaboration, they must articulate
what they know. If misunderstanding occurs, students clarify points and assess their
overall understanding. This forces students to develop metacognitive awareness, a key
component of the life-long learning construct Students involved in cognitive
apprenticeship activities develop critical metacognitive skills that will enable them to
perform as life-long learners.

Review. Activities
These instructional methodologies also encourage students to review and reflect on
what they have learned and how they have learned. Self-reflection activities are
embedded into instructional activities to support the development of metacognitive
Self-reflection implies observing and putting an interpretation on ones own
actions, for instance, considering ones own intentions and motives as objects of
thought (Von Wright, 1992, p. 61). Von Wright describes the process of self-
reflection as the ability to think about ones self as an intentional subject of personal
actions and to consider the consequences and efficacy of those actions. This involves
the ability to look at ones self in an objective way and to consider ways of changing to
improve performance.
Writers since Dewey (1933) have stated that reflective skills play an important role
in the development of metacognitive skills. Dewey described the value of reflection as
a component of educated thinking. Contemporary researchers have further elaborated
on this argument by describing the relationships between reflection, metacognitive
skills, and the development of problem-solving strategies (e.g., Kuhn, 1989). The
specific contribution of reflection in the development of metacognitive skills is its role
in consolidating the development of new strategies and encouraging transfer (Schauble,
Raghavan, & Glaser, 1993).
Even though reflective activity is important, it is possible for students to be so
caught up in completing a task that they fail to reflect, hindering what they learn. We
can keep students so busy that they rarely have time to think about what they are doing,
and they may fail to become aware of their methods and options (Wheatley, 1992, p.

536). Schon (1983) refers to this as being in the action rather than reflecting on the
action. If students do not have opportunities to examine their methods and options,
they will not develop the metacognitive skills needed for life-long learning. Therefore,
teachers need to support students in reflecting on their own learning and problem-
solving processes, as well as on what they have learned (Schon, 1987).
hi an article on teaching for thinking and problem solving, Bransford et al (1986)
describe how instructional activities that emphasize helping students analyze their
problem-solving and thinking processes are more effective in developing students life-
long learning skills than instructional activities which do not They go on to say it is an
instructional programs emphasis on reflection that helps students become more
metacognitive. To defend this position, Bransford et aL (1986, p. 1084) refer to the
research on the use of Logo to teach thinking skills:
...[because many Logo studies have placed] little emphasis on the need
to systematically help students reflect on their approaches to
programming and to think about these activities as instances of more
general problem-solving strategies...general effects of Logo
programming on thinking ability have proved to be so difficult to find.
Blakely and Spence (1990) describe several basic reflective strategies that need to
be employed by an instructional methodology to develop metacognitive skills:
Students should be asked to consciously identify what they know as
opposed to what they dont know.
Students should keep journals or logs in which they reflect upon their
learning processes, thinking about what works and what does not
Students should manage their own time and resources including estimating
time requirements, organizing materials, and scheduling the procedures
necessary to complete an activity.

Students should engage in guided self-evaluation through individual
conferences and checklists to help them focus on the thinking process.
Blakely and Spences strategies illustrate the importance of student reflection in
promoting the development of metacognitive skills.
Reflective activities, as defined by Blakely and Spence, are a common characteristic
of the instructional methodologies presented in this chapter. A common goal of these
methodologies is to induce students to include self-reflection as an essential component
of their action strategies in the context of learning and problem-solving (Boud, Keogh,
& Walker, 1985; Harris, 1989; Von Wright, 1992).
In an intentional learning environment, the importance of students awareness of the
functional potential of knowledge for the acquisition of other knowledge is emphasized
(Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1989). According to Bereiter and Scardamalia, of equal
importance to becoming an intentional learner is the awareness of the potential of self-
reflection as a tool for engaging in intentional learning activities. Understanding the
functional potential of knowledge for the acquisition of new knowledge is critical to
life-long learning. Part of being metacognitive, students must leam to use what they
have learnedin terms of content and skills, as well as personal learning strategies
and processes to improve subsequent learning activities and further future learning
Besides providing social support, shared expertise, and role models, reciprocal
teaching also stimulates self-reflection. In fact, central to the reciprocal teaching
methodology is the emphasis on social interaction as a condition for developing
students reflective skills (Brown & Palincsar, 1989). Reflective skills come into play
when students take on the role of teacher and lead group discussions. When leading

the group discussion, it is necessary for the student to decide what has to be explained
or taught based on the groups conceptions and misconceptions. In addition, the
student has to assess how ones teaching is impacting the groups conceptions and
misconceptions. Trying to understand another persons perspective on an excerpt of
text, a requirement for participation in a reciprocal teaching activity, forces students to
reflect on their own perspectives.
Reflection also comes into play when students are required to summarize what they
have learned during a reciprocal teaching activity. As in the review phase of PBL, in a
reciprocal teaching activity, summarizing is used by the students to monitor the groups
progress, reexamine points of agreement and disagreement, clarify comprehension
problems, and prepare themselves to tackle new text (Brown & Palincsar, 1989). The
ability to reflect on personal learning strategies and processes is necessary for
enhancing metacognitive ability. The reflection that occurs during a reciprocal teaching
activity helps students develop the type of metacognitive awareness needed to engage in
life-long learning activities.
In a cognitive apprenticeship environment, reflection is encouraged so students will
elaborate on what they have learned. Again, as in the review phase of PBL, reflection
activities make tacit cognitive and metacognitive activities overt so students can assess
and improve them. Having opportunities to reflect on metacognitive skill utilization is
necessary if students are expected to develop these skills to the point of using them
without prompting or guidance. Reflection enables students to assess and improve
their skill use to affect a change in subsequent utilization practice; without reflective
activities students may never change their utilization patterns, regardless of
effectiveness. Therefore, reflective activities help students assess how they are learning

and improve their strategies and processes, preparing them to independently utilize
appropriate metacognitive skills during life-long learning activities.
Student Autonomy
All of these methodologies engage students in activities that gradually increase their
control and responsibility over the learning process. Creating autonomous learners,
these methodologies teach students how to plan their learning: how to address their
learning needs, set learning objectives, employ learning strategies, utilize resources,
and assess the overall process. In other words, these methodologies help students
acquire more agency over their zones of proximal development For the most part, this
is done through guided social interaction.
In an intentional learning environment students are required to build their own
knowledge bases founded on personal learning needs and interests. To do this,
students must take responsibility for managing the learning process. This includes
setting goals, creating action plans, setting deadlines, and identifying appropriate
learning strategies. Even though students are required to manage their own learning,
they are supported by peers and teachers who help them move towards autonomy. A
PBL environment is very similar. During phase 1 of a PBL activity, students identify
knowledge deficits, set learning goals based on those deficits, and create action plans to
fulfill those learning goals. During the self-study phase, students determine what
resources they will use to address their action plan. These decisions are all made by the
students. Although students are supported by each other and their teacher, they are
responsible for managing the learning process, helping them achieve greater student
autonomy over learning activities.

The modeling, coaching, and scaffolding/fading process employed by reciprocal
teaching and cognitive apprenticeship provides assistance so students can accomplish a
task they would not be able to carry out without help (Vygotsky, 1978). Modeling is
the demonstration of the problem-solving process. Through modeling, students obtain
a complete mental picture of the process they are learning because the cognitive and
metacognitive processes are explicit Coaching provides students with guidance while
they practice solving problems. As students begin to solve problems on their own, the
supportive structure is slowly faded until it can be completely removed. This process
helps students develop metacognitive awareness while preparing them to be self-
directed and life-long learners.
Although not as elaborate as the assistance provided during the modeling, coaching,
and scaffolding/fading process, the tutor in a PBL environment provides a supportive
structure while students learn to direct their own learning. When students are stuck and
can go no further on a problem, the tutor asks questions that help students refocus on
the problem, enabling them to proceed. Another source of assistance is keeping a
record of the groups progress on the chalkboard. This activity, started during PBLs
problem analysis phase and updated throughout the other phases, is a method of
externalizing thinking processes and helps students remember and organize their
An Additional-Commonalty; Intrinsically Motivating Activities
Although not specifically described as an instructional strategy for the development
of life-long learning skills, issues related to intrinsic motivation reoccur throughout this
chapter. Intrinsic motivation is recognized by both rationalist and constructivist

theoretical views of learning as having an impact on knowledge acquisition. According
to Kinzie (1990), intrinsic motivation also has an impact on continuing motivation.
Therefore, intrinsic motivation is an important component of instructional
methodologies that have life-long learning as an educational objective.
For students to be oriented toward life-long learning, they must be willing to
continue to learn. This willingness to learn is a product of intrinsic and continuing
motivation (Kinzie, 1990). Intrinsic motivation is the desire to pursue of goal in which
the primary reward is the pursuit itself. When students are intrinsically motivated, they
are more likely to be more self-determined; they may attempt more problems, focusing
on the way to solve the problem instead of on finding the correct solution (Condry &
Chambers, 1978). Continuing motivation refers to the desire students have to return to
a learning activity without any external pressure because the activity is intrinsically
motivating (Kinzie, 1990). The self-determination and desire to return to a learning
activity is part of life-long learning. Therefore, motivation to engage in life-long
learning activities may have an impact on students determination and desire to engage
in life-long learning in the future.
The instructional methodologies described in this chapter employ intrinsic
motivation strategies to get students excited about learning. Intrinsic motivation
strategies are based on the idea that students will expend more effort on tasks and
activities they find inherently enjoyable and interesting, even when there are no
extrinsic incentives (Keller & Burkman, 1993). All of the instructional methodologies
described in this chapter employ the following tactics to encourage and sustain intrinsic

Students are actively involved in the learning activity. Student are actively
engaged in leading, recording, discussing, facilitating, making decisions,
collaborating, making presentations, and evaluating throughout the learning
Students fulfill higher-level objectives and answer divergent questions. At
the heart of each learning activity is a problem to be solved. Solving the
problem involves analyzing the situation presented, applying existing and
new knowledge, evaluating alternative solutions, forecasting consequences,
and assessing the problem solving process.
Students take ownership of the problem by assuming the roles of real
stakeholders. When students take on the roles of scientists, programmers,
historians, etc., their motivation soars because [they] realize its their
problem (Stepien & Gallagher, 1993).
Students engage in authentic activity. The advantage of engaging students
in authentic problem-solving activities is that students become much more
aware of how the knowledge they are acquiring can be put to use,
improving their ability to transfer their knowledge and skills to future
problems. Adopting a problem-solving mentality..reinforces the notion
that the knowledge is useful for achieving particular goals. Students are not
being asked to store information away; they see how it works in certain
situations... (Prawat, 1989, p. 18)
Students work collaboratively to meet goals. Learning is facilitated by
social mediation (interactions and communication with others) in a variety of
settings (McCombs, 1991). All cooperative learning methods share the

idea that students work together to learn and are responsible for one
anothers learning as well as their own (Slavin, 1991, p. 73).
According to PBL proponents (e.g., Albanese and Mitchell, 1993; Barrows, 1985),
because students are engaged in setting and meeting personal learning goals, enjoyment
and increased motivation are common reactions to PBL. Many features of a PBL
approach may contribute to an enhanced quality of the educational experience, such as
stimulating context, active learning and cooperative peer interaction (Sobral, 1995).
Other proponents state that PBL evokes higher epistemic curiosity and intrinsic
motivation (Norman and Schmidt, 1992; Schmidt, 1993; Sobral, 1995): motivation is
implicit in the resource-finding and other self-directed activities integral to PBL
(Walton and Matthews, 1989, p. 551). Therefore, PBL helps orient students to be
intrinsically motivated through the development of self-directed learning skills.
Because intrinsic motivation impacts continuing motivation to learn, involving students
in activities that make them excited about learning is critical not only for the success of
the learning activity itself, but also to the development of students commitment to
learning throughout their lives.
Since the focus of this research study is the inpact of PBL on the development of
life-long learning (both metacognitive and self-directed learning) skills, this chapter
presented theoretical and empirical evidence that the instructional strategies employed
during PBL activities help students develop life-long learning skills. The instructional
strategies that develop life-long learning skills are collaboration, review activities, and
student autonomy. It is also important to consider the inpact of relevant learning

activities on students level of intrinsic motivation and continuing desire and enthusiasm
to pursue learning objectives. This chapter described how the theoretically- and
empirically-based instructional strategies, employed by PBL and the other
methodologies, help students develop metacognitive and self-directed learning skills,
preparing them for life-long learning.

The following description of the study is divided into four sections. The first
section, Research Question, provides a rationale for the appropriateness of the research
question based on the importance of life-long learning skill development and the lack of
research-based evidence available regarding the effectiveness of problem-based learning
(PBL) to promote life-long learning skills. The second section, Description of Study,
presents information about the participants and the PBL environment, including the
purposes of the course and a description of the PBL activity in which students
participated. The third section, Data Collection and Analysis Strategies, provides a
rationale for the use of guided journals and questionnaires to collect data. A description
of strategies applied to the analysis of the guided journals and the application of the
Fishbein and Ajzen model of attitude-behavior consistency to analyze questionnaire data
is also presented. The last section, Conclusion and Limitations of the Study, describes
issues that this particular study will not address.
Research Question
Research discussed in Chapter 1 (for a review of research, see Albanese &
Mitchell, 1993; Vernon & Blake, 1993) examines whether PBL meets two of its
instructional objectives: knowledge acquisition and reasoning skill development.

However, few researchers focus their attention on whether PBL fulfills its third
instructional objective: the development of life-long learning skills. This represents a
gap in the literature, especially since the development of life-long learning skills is a
primary goal of PBL (Blumberg & Michael, 1992).
Based on the gap in the literature, the following question was established as the
focus of this research study: How does PBL affect life-long learning skills? Since the
ability to be a life-long learner is impacted by the development of two skill areas, this
study addressed the research question by collecting data around two subquestions:
Does PBL help students develop metacognidve skills, such as self-
monitoring and self-assessment?
Does PBL help students develop the desire and ability to engage in
continued, self-directed learning?
To answer the research question and related subquestions, PBLs impact on
students ability and willingness (1) to assume responsibility for their own subsequent
learning and (2) to use life-long learning strategies during future academic and work-
related activities was explored.
PesgQptiffipf Study
Description of Context
This section describes the context in which the study was conducted (see Appendix
A for the Human Resource Committees approval of research study). The section is
divided into three parts: participants, course description and purpose, and project
components and requirements.

Participants. The participants for this study were students in a 15-week, university
undergraduate course designed to teach C++ programming syntax within the context of
object-oriented design and development methodology. There were 20 students in the
course, 16 men and 4 women. Their ages ranged from 20 to 40 years of age. The
students class status broke down into the following categories:
Graduate = 3
Seniors = 8
Juniors = 1
Sophomores = 1
Undeclared Graduate = 5
Undeclared Undergraduate = 2
None of the students had been exposed to PBL before entering this course.
Course description and purpose. The course titled Computing with C++ met for
an hour and 15 minutes twice a week during the Fall 1995 semester. The stated course
objectives were to develop an understanding of the C++ language syntax and object-
oriented design and programming techniques. Following PBL methodology, the
course was designed to engage students in four different programming problems in
which students met course objectives by solving problems. Spanning four to five
weeks, each project required students to learn specific content and skills in order to
develop viable solutions. Students were immediately placed in the role of C++
programmers for a contracting company, hi this role, students were assigned client-
based projects for which they were required to develop solutions. Each project was
presented via authentic materials documenting the nature and requirements of the

project Reflecting how project requirements are actually presented to programmers on-
the-job, students analyzed the content of a number of itemsincluding newspaper
articles, Statements of Work, interoffice memos, sketches, interviews with the client
etc. in order to determine the underlying problem and the clients hue requirements
(see Appendix B for an example of problem materials). Students were required to
work collaboratively to analyze each project design solutions, and code solutions.
Students utilized a variety of resources during the solution of each problem.
Before students began working on the project described in this study, they worked
on a project that was not graded by the instructor. The purpose of the ungraded project
was to expose students to the PBL methodology under risk-free conditions, giving
them an opportunity to practice PBL and become more comfortable with the process.
Each of the subsequent graded projects had four phases, reflecting Barrows (1985)
phases of the PBL process. The first phase, Problem Analysis, began with students
receiving authentic materials which presented the problem. With the instructors
guidance, the class worked together to identify the problem and what they needed to do
to solve the problem. This included students identifying learning issues and developing
action plans for addressing those learning issues.
The second phase of each project, Project Design, involved students working
together in groups of three to design a solution for the client This required students to
access a number of different resources (books, on-line files, previously coded solutions
to other problems, experts, instructor, etc.). These resources are used to come up with
a viable solution that not only meets the clients requirements, but also meets the object-
oriented coding standards of the consulting company for which they work.

Once group members agreed upon a design, the students began coding up the
solution individually, relying on the other members of the design team for support
This phase was referred to as Project Development
The final phase, Post Project Review, happened once students finished coding a
solution. This review was used to discuss the C++ and object-oriented techniques
students used, share solutions and discuss possible alternatives, and to answer any
lingering questions. It was also used as a time for students to reflect on the process
itself, discussing what learning strategies they employed, what strategies worked and
did not work, and what they would do differently when solving future programming
In addition to the review that occurred during these four phases, an additional
review component was incorporated. These reviews were referred to as In-progress
Reviews. At several points during the course of a project, the instructor would bring
the class together as a whole to discuss issues related to project status, design and
programming problems, and possible solutions. The in-progress reviews also
encouraged students to reflect on the strategies they were employing and the
effectiveness of those strategies, reassess their status regarding personal learning
issues, and adjust their personal action plans if needed.
Project Components and Requirements. For this study, participants were examined
during the first graded project The project spanned five weeks, from September 7 to
October 12. The authentic materials for the first graded project placed the students in
the role of new hires for a C++ consulting firm (see Appendix B for the authentic
materials that introduced students to the project). The first project that was assigned to

the new-hires was a library card-catalog system. Students were divided into project
teams. Each team was responsible for designing a programming solution that would
allow the librarys mainframe computer operators to load card catalog information from
computer files to the librarys main database. The project teams also had to develop a
search engine, that would allow searches to be performed on the catalog information in
the librarys main database. All of the projects requirements and constraints were
contained in office memos, transcripts of interviews with library personnel, and a
newspaper clipping.
After students had an opportunity to examine the authentic materials, the instructor
created four columns on the board with the following headings: Ideas, Facts, Learning
Issues, and Action Plan (see Appendix C for PBL column structure). Although project
teams were assigned, the Problem Analysis phase was conducted with the class as a
whole to ensure that all teams recognize the same client requirements and learning
issues. Using these columns as a guide, the instructor helped students examine the
authentic materials in such a way as to draw out the clients requirements. Students
quickly generated ideas on what the solution might look like (We will want to create
classes for books, periodicals, films, and videos.) and factual information from the
authentic materials (The e-mail from aschwartz says the files will be pipe delimited.).
As the session progressed, learning issues were identified that would require additional
study (How does a list work?). Finally, an action plan was developed to guide the
students activities so they could begin to solve the clients problem.
During the next two weeks, the class broke into their project teams to design an on-
paper solution to the problem identified during analysis. Students worked together
using a variety of resources, including books, on-line help, experts, instructor, Internet

resources, and sample code. Towards the end of the two weeks, project teams shared
their designs with each other to test their ideas, generate additional ideas, and verify or
modify their understanding. During this time the instructor went around the room
offering support and making sure that students stayed on task. At the end of each class
period the class reconvened to discuss previous learning issues, generate new learning
issues, and update the action plan. These modifications to learning issues and action
plan were made to the original four columns.
The Project Development phase of the project required each student to program the
solution using the design created by the project team as a blueprint Students spent time
in class coding a solution to meet the clients requirements. Class meetings were used
as an opportunity for students to discuss problems they encountered while coding and
to share the solutions they had developed to solve those problems. During this phase,
the instructor walked around the room making sure students were on track.
Periodically, the class as a whole was reconvened to address issues that the class was
encountering and to update the action plan.
When students finished the project, they had a completed C++ program. By
working on this project, the students actively learned how to:
create classes and objects,
apply inheritance,
create virtual functions,
use templates,
use file input/output streams,
print to the screen,
break their source code into multiple files,

implement object communication,
create object-oriented designs through abstraction and encapsulation,
take a project from analysis to implementation, and
evolve a project design based on coding restrictions.
Following PBL methodology as prescribed by prominent problem-based learning
designers (Barrows, 1985,1986; Barrows & Tamblyn, 1980; Schmidt, 1983; Walton
& Matthews, 1989), the library project presented in the Computing with C++ course
represents an exemplary example of PBL in action. This environment provided a
forum for collecting data needed to examine whether PBL met one of its main
objectives: to develop life-long learning skills.
Data Collection and Analysis Strategies
Two methods of data collection were employed: guided journals and
questionnaires. Life-long learning is difficult to study because it is an activity that
happens in the future, throughout an individuals life. One way to research whether an
instructional methodology, like PBL, helps students develop life-long learning skills is
to revisit students one, five, and ten years after exposure to the methodology to
determine if those students are spontaneously applying life-long learning skills to new
learning activities. Unfortunately, this type of research has three drawbacks:
Erosion of sample base over time;
Exposure to and interference of new instructional treatments that may impact
the reliability of die results; and
Inability to immediately collect evidence to adjust the instructional
methodology in a timely manner.

This last drawback is highly critical if research is to be used to prescribe
improvements to instructional methodologies. The goal of this research study is to
examine how PBL impacts the development of life-long learning skills. The findings
from this study will be used to provide heuristics to enhance the PBL methodologys
ability to develop life-long learning skills. Therefore, a delay in the collection of
evidence would mean that subsequent students would be exposed to an instructional
methodology that did not necessarily meet its educational objectives. In order to fulfill
this studys goal, data collection methodologies that support the ability to forecast or
predict students future behavior were selected. Guided journals and questionnaires
constructed and analyzed using the Fishbein and Ajzen model of attitude-behavior
consistency met this criteria.
Guided journals. Students were required to keep a journal throughout the duration
of the library project These journals were due once a week. Because computer
science students are not typically required to write, let alone keep a journal, in their
programming courses, a set of questions were presented to the students each week to
guide their journal responses (see Appendix D for guided journal questions). The
guided journal questions woe distributed every Thursday and collected by the
following Tuesday. All journal interactions were conducted on-line via electronic mail.
Electronic mail was selected as the mode of communication because it is a format in
which computer science students are comfortable, and it is die forum commonly utilized
by these students to communicate with instructors and fellow classmates. Although a
researcher-stimulated addition to the course, the guided journal was made a required

part of the course for which students received credit towards their final grades in order
to reinforce the importance of the exercise.
A caveat to utilizing journals as data collection instruments is the possibility that
some of the changes in die quality of students journal writing over the course of the
project are caused by acquiring journaling experience via weekly practice and gaining a
better understanding of the expectations. However, before data collection commenced,
students examined in this research study practiced journal writing over a three week
period, minimizing the impact of continued practice on the quality and detail of journal
responses. After data collection began, students wore not exposed to instructor
clarification or feedback that would interfere with the quality or detail of data collected
via their journals.
Glaser and Strauss (1967) classify the analysis of guided, or reflective, journals as
a field research methodology. However, in this study, because the guided journals
were a requirement of the course and something that the students created and used, they
may also be considered artifacts, and therefore represent a non-interactive data
collection method (LeCompte & Preissle, 1993). Artifacts constitute data indicating
peoples sensations, experiences, and knowledge and which connote opinions, values,
and feelings (LeCompte & Preissle, 1993, p. 216). Therefore, the guided journal was
used to collect data related to students thinking in relation to the life-long learning
activities in which they were engaging throughout the five weeks of the PBL activity.
Journal writing research supports the value of journals as an instrument that
promotes and documents reflective thinking (Erdman, 1983; Flower & Hayes, 1981;
Gipe & Richards, 1990,1992; Yinger & Clark as cited in Gipe & Richards, 1992). In
a study of students in teacher education, Kleinsasser, Paradis, and Stewart (as cited in

Fellows, 1994) found that analyzing students writing provided a methodology
sensitive enough to distinguish changes in the students thinking. Other researchers
found student journal writing provided teachers with an instrument for tracking
students changes in thinking over time and also provided evidence of their level of
understanding of concepts (Staton, Shuy, Peyton, & Reed, 1988). In a study of a
reflective teaching program, Fellows (1994) found that students writing was a useful
vehicle for assessing and detecting students conceptual changes. These findings
support the idea that journal writing analysis can provide researchers with a window
into students thinking processes (Fellows, 1994).
In order to collect data related to student thinking about the life-long learning
activities in which they were involved, students were guided to answer questions
related to the development of metacognitive and self-directed learning skills, the two
components of life-long learning. Specifically, revisiting the definitions presented in
Chapter 1, students answered journal questions that addressed issues related to the
development of the following metacognitive and self-directed learning skills:
Metacognitive skills
Student recognizes content and skill limitations;
Student demonstrates the ability to set goals and create action plans based on
those limitations;
Student is able to activate the appropriate prior knowledge (content and
skills) strategies, tactics, and processes to achieve goals;
Student demonstrates ability to assess progress;
Student is aware of what still needs to be completed to reach a set goal, and
how best to allocate time and resources; and

Student is able to modify strategies, tactics, and processes based on the
needs of the task at hand.
Self-directed learning skills
Student identifies and defines problem and learning issues;
Student identifies, finds, uses, and critiques resources for solving a
problem or meeting a learning requirement;
Student demonstrates the ability to capture and apply information from
resources to the problem or learning need; and
Student demonstrates the ability to critique information, skills, and
strategies used to solve the problem or meet the learning requirement
Journal questions were created to correspond to these metacognitive and self-directed
learning skills.
Analysis of Guided Journals. To conceal student identities, each student was
assigned an identification number. Weekly journal responses were transcribed into a
Microsoft Excel file organized by student and journal question. Students journal
quotations were left in their original format: spelling, grammatical, and punctuation
errors were not corrected. Since students responded to journal questions five times
during the duration of the PBL problem, each journal response was placed in the file
Five weeks of journal responses were examined to determine what skills students
had prior to PBL participation, what skills were developed while engaging in the PBL
activity, and what skills were improved or enhanced over the duration of the PBL

project To do this, the first two weeks of journals were used to determine students
pre-PBL, life-long learning skill development levels. The journals from weeks three
through five woe used to determine students skill development levels after significant
exposure to PBL. Each journal response was analyzed to determine if it reflected
students use of metacognitive and self-directed learning skills. If a journal response
indicated the student was utilizing the inferred metacognitive or self-directed learning
skill, that response was classified as a positive indication of the development of that
particular skill. If, on the other hand, a journal response indicated the student was not
utilizing the inferred metacognitive or self-directed learning skill, that response was
classified as a negative indication of the development of that skill. If a student did
not answer a journal question completely or did not answer the question at all, the
response would be classified as not applicable. The number of responses within each
classification were then calculated. Because these numbers are approximations based
on an interpretation of students journal responses, the following scale was developed
to help describe the results of the classification analysis:
most = more than IS students out of 20 students
many or majority = between 11 and 15 students out of 20 students
some = between five and ten students out of 20 students
few = less than five students out of 20
The information derived from the guided journals through analysis and
classification was used to determine whether involvement in the PBL project had a
positive impact on the development or use of metacognitive and self-directed learning
skills. The journals encouraged students to reflect on their use of the metacognitive and

self-directed learning skills that are required for life-long learning. The data from the
guided journals was used to provide evidence that PBL had an impact on the
development of life-long learning skills and was, therefore, used to support the
questionnaire results regarding students' intentions to utilize those skills in the future.
Questionnaires. A 34-item questionnaire based on the Fishbein and Ajzen model of
attitude-behavior consistency was filled out by students upon the completion of the first
project (see Appendix E for the questionnaire). The questionnaire used semantic
differential to measure students intentions to utilize life-long learning skills and
ultimately engage in life-long learning. The semantic differential consisted of a set of
bipolar evaluative adjective scales, specifically unlikely-likely and good-bad. Students
completed the questionnaire at the beginning of the class in order to assure focus on the
task. Before filling out the questionnaire, students were assured that their responses
would not be used by the course instructor for purposes of evaluation.
Questions on the questionnaire were constructed following the requirements of the
Fishbein and Ajzen model of attitude-behavior consistency (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980).
The Fishbein and Ajzen model is a descriptive and prescriptive, not experimental, data
collection and analysis tool. The model enables researchers to collect consistent and
statistically reliable data about beliefs, attitudes, intentions, and behaviors (Ajzen &
Fishbein, 1980; Walster, 1994). The model establishes a correspondence between
beliefs, attitudes, intentions, and behaviors. This correspondence is based on Fishbein
and Ajzen theory of reasoned action.
...we make the assumption that most actions of social relevance are
under volitional control and, consistent with this assumption, our theory
views a persons intention to perform (or to not perform) a behavior as
the immediate determinant of the action. (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980, p. 5)

From the perspective of Fishbein and Ajzens theory of reasoned action, there are a
limited number of factors that determine an individuals behavior. The causes of
behavior are traced back to an individuals beliefs. In other words, the causal chain of
intervening constructs that lead an individual to action begins with (1) personal beliefs
about the behavior in question and (2) personal beliefs about what people important to
the individual think in terms of whether or not the behavior should be performed.
These beliefs behavioral beliefs and subjective normative beliefsinfluence an
individuals attitude toward the behavior, and ultimately impacts whether or not the
individual performs the behavior.
In their discussion of the attitude component of their model, Ajzen and Fishbein
(1980) make a distinction between a persons attitude toward a behavior and a person
attitude toward an object, group of people, or institution in terms of how these attitudes
impact behavior. In fact, their view of attitude is in opposition to many social
psychologists view of attitude (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). The example Ajzen and
Fishbein use to explain this difference has to do with what causes employers not to hire
from a minority group. Typically, the failure to hire from a minority group is attributed
to prejudice against that group. This view of the impact of attitude on behavior leads to
the argument that members of the minority group would be hired if prejudice was
reduced, making the attitude towards the minority group more favorable.
According to Fishbein and Ajzen, the degree to which the minority group is liked or
disliked may have little to do with whether or not members from that group are hired.
Instead, they emphasize that the hiring behavior is determined by the individuals
attitude toward hiring members of the minority group and by the individuals subjective

A person who strongly dislikes [minorities] may nevertheless believe
that hiring [minorities] will lead to more positive than negative
consequences. His attitude toward hiring [minorities] wall be positive,
and he may therefore intend to hire [minorities] and actually do so.
(Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980, p. 8)
As summarized in the quotation above, attitude toward the behavior working
together with the subjective norm lead to an intention to perform the behavior. The
intention to perform the behavior then leads to the actual behavior itself. In other
words, the theory of reasoned action allows researchers to collect information about
students beliefs, for example, and then predict attitudes, intentions, and behaviors
based on those beliefs. This means that information can be collected now to predict
future behavior, which is vital if the behavior is, by its very nature, something in which
students are expected to exhibit in the future.
Supported by the models established correspondence between intentions and
behaviors, the questions on the questionnaire for this study were designed to collect
information about the students intentions to engage in life-long learning activities in the
future. Life-long learning is a general behavioral category which is comprised of
metacognitive and self-directed learning skills, therefore, collecting data on a single
skill or action may not provide an adequate measure of life-long learning behavior. To
avoid this problem, the questionnaire addressed each of the metacognitive and self-
directed learning skills which comprise life-long learning skills. The questionnaire was
divided into sections that represent the skill areas that make up life-long learning skills.
Referring to Appendix E, the first section called Managing your learning collects
information related to students intentions to utilize metacognitive skills in the future.
The second sectionDetermining the direction of your learningcollects
information regarding students intentions to utilize self-directed learning skills in the

future. Finally, the third section Future learning plans presents students with
general questions in order to examine their overall intentions to be life-long learners.
Because life-long learning is a behavior that occurs in the future, it was necessary to
select a data collection and analysis tool that would enable future behavior to be
predicted. The Fishbein and Ajzen model was selected as a data collection and analysis
tool for this research study because of its power to describe and predict beliefs,
attitudes, intentions, and behaviors. In fact, the Fishbein and Ajzen model specifically
addresses the type of long-range prediction needed when examining life-long learning.
Describing the need for a data collection and analysis tool that enables behavior to be
accurately and reliably predicted from intentions, Ajzen and Fishbein (1980, p. 47)
In many may be neither feasible nor of practical value to
measure die intention in close proximity to the behavior. Imagine, for
example, that we are trying to predict the behavior of a soldier on the
battlefield. We could hardly approach soldiers in the midst of a battle
and try to assess their intentions. In other cases, it may be important,
for planning purposes, to make predictions months or years in advance.
By collecting information regarding students intentions to engage in life-long learning,
the Fishbein and Ajzen model allows for the accurate and reliable prediction of life-long
learning behavior.
Besides providing the ability to predict behavior, which is a necessary capability
when examining a behavior that by its very definition occurs in the future, the Fishbein
and Ajzen model was selected as a data analysis method because of how well it mapped
to the underlying argument structure for why PBL encourages life-long learning:

PBL creates an authentic environment that is both interesting to and
challenging for students. The outcome of participating in a PBL
environment is better preparation for the demands of the workplace.
Because the students enjoy the environment in which they are learning to the
extent that they are motivated to actively participate, their beliefs about the
learning objectives that PBL encourages specifically contextualized
content acquisition, reasoning and problem solving, and life-long learning
change, leading to a more positive attitude toward pursuing these
Because students in a PBL environment work toward real solutions and, via
reflection, are able to see how much they have actually learned by
participating in a PBL environment, students realize that performing certain
activities lead to positive outcomes, and they begin to plan to perform those
activities in the future.
Because students have a positive attitude about pursuing the objectives and
therefore have planned to continue to pursue them in the future, students are
more likely to actually engage in those activities.
The similarity of the underlying argument structure, therefore, supported the use of the
Hshbein and Ajzen model as a data analysis tool
Because intentions, the direct predictors of behavior, indicate how an individual
plans to act (Walster, 1994), collecting information about students intentions allows
for the understanding and prediction of future life-long learning behavior. Being able

to predict students life-long learning behavior makes it possible to explore how the
PBL methodology impacts the development of life-long learning skills, and therefore
provides an opportunity to enhance the methodology to better address issues related to
life-long learning skills development
Analysis of Questionnaire. Using the Fishbein and Ajzen model is like using an
ANOVA as a tool to analyze data. The Fishbein and Ajzen model provides a formula
for converting questionnaire data into interpretable results. Using a seven-place,
bipolar scale with a score range from -3 to +3, an aggregate score was calculated for
each question on the questionnaire. Aggregate scores are used because they are less
likely to change over time and are, therefore, more stable and reliable than individual
student scores (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). Using these aggregate scores, means and
standard deviations were calculated. These scores were then used to do a variety of
analyses to determine the relationships between students intentions to utilize life-long
learning skills and intention to engage in life-long learning behavior. Referring to
Appendix E for questions (Q), the analyses conducted were:
1) Means and standard deviations for each question in subskill areas (Q1
through Q25). These scores ware calculated in order to determine if
students intentions were particularly high or low for specific
metacognitive or self-directed learning skills. These results were used to
focus in on where adjustments to the PBL methodology may be needed.
2) Aggregate score for metacognitive skills (Q1 through Q12). This
aggregate score was calculated in order to examine strength of students
intentions to utilize metacognitive skills.

Aggregate score for self-directed learning skills (Q13 through Q25). This
aggregate score was calculated in order to examine strength of students
intentions to utilize self-directed learning skills.
4) Add together aggregate scores for metacognitive (2) and self-directed
learning skills (3) to get a score for overall intention to engage in life-long
5) Aggregate score for overall intention to engage in life-long learning (Q26,
Q27, and Q30). This aggregate score was calculated in order to examine
strength of students intentions to engage in life-long learning.
6) Compare (4) to Q26, Q27, and Q30, respectively. Each comparison
should be close if each of these three questions independently measures
intention to engage in life-long learning.
7) Compare (4) to (5). These scores should be similar if metacognitive
skills and self-directed learning skills comprise life-long learning.
8) The higher the correlation between attitude towards the behavior and the
intention to do the behavior, the more likely the intention accurately
predicts the behavior (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). To support the use of
intentions to predict behavior, the following steps were taken. The score
for Q28 (attitude towards engaging in life-long learning) was multiplied
by the score for Q29 (strength of that attitude) to get an attitude score.
The score for Q31 (the subjective norm) was multiplied by the score for
Q32 (strength of that subjective norm) to get a subjective norm score.
These scores indicate the relative importance of each component in the
prediction of the intention. These scores were then used to compute the

correlation coefficient (r) to determine the strength and direction of the
relationship between students attitude about life-long learning and their
intention to engage in life-long learning. Besides reporting the strength of
the correlation, the statistical significance of the correlation was
determined to show that the relation between the students attitude and
their intention is not due to chance alone. Further, the multiple correlation
coefficient (R) was determined to describe the degree with which the
students intention to engage in life-long learning can be predicted from
the students attitude towards life-long learning and the subjective norm.
The analyses conducted using the Fishbein and Ajzen model of attitude-behavior
consistency allowed for the description of students intentions to engage in life-long
learning and utilize life-long learning skills. Using this information about intentions,
the model further allowed for the prediction of life-long learning behavior. The ability
to describe and predict was necessary in order to meet the goals of the research study:
to determine the impact of PBL on the development of life-long learning skills, and to
subsequently provide prescriptions for enhancing the PBL methodology so that it may
better address life-long learning skills development issues.
Summary of data collection and analysis strategies. Guided journals and Fishbein
and Ajzen questionnaires were selected as the data collection techniques because they
enabled information to be collected that directly addressed the research question and
goal of the research study. Even though these techniques were deemed to be the most
effective modes of data collection for this study, there were issues that the study would
not address. The studys limitations are described below.

Conclusion and Limitations of Study
The focus of this study was on predicting a behavior that, by its very nature, occurs
in the future: life-long learning. The reason for predicting this behavior was to
determine if die PBL methodology fulfilled one of its key objectives: to help students
develop life-long learning skills. The results of this prediction were used to adjust and
enhance instructional techniques currently prescribed by PBL methodology in order to
better address the need to develop students life-long learning skills. Although the
ability to predict a future behavior like life-long learning was critical if immediate
adjustment or enhancements are desired, a limitation of this study was that students
actual life-long learning behavior in the future was not examined to reinforce the
questionnaire and journal findings.
Using guided journals and questionnaires analyzed using the Fishbein and Ajzen
model of attitude-behavior consistency provided data needed to determine if PBL meets
the life-long learning objective. Using these data collection instruments, information
addressing the development and planned use of the specific skills that comprise life-
long learning skills was collected. The following chapter describes the results of the
guided journals and the questionnaire.

Problem-based learning (PBL) is an instructional methodology that encourages the
development of life-long learning skills by engaging students in authentic, problem-
centered learning experiences. This study examines how involvement in a PBL
environment during an university computer programming course affects students life-
long learning skills development
Over a five-week period in which students worked on a computer programming
project within a PBL environment students responded to electronic journals on a
weekly basis. The journals were used to determine how PBL impacted students use
and development of the metacognitive and self-directed learning skills that enable
students to be life-long learners. As described in Chapter 1, those skills are:
Metacognitive skills
utilizing prior knowledge
assessing progress
setting learning goals and creating action plans
modifying learning strategies
Self-directed learning skills
independently choosing the direction of learning: being responsible for
determining personal learning needs
utilizing resources to address learning needs

critiquing ability to apply information from resources to the fulfillment of
learning needs
The results of the journals are presented^ to reveal PBLs impact on students use and
development of these metacognitive and self-directed learning skills.
At the end of the five weeks, once students turned in their programming projects to
the instructor, students completed a questionnaire based on the Fishbein and Ajzen
model of attitude-behavior consistency. Although the guided journals provide
information concerning the development of skills needed to engage in life-long
learning, the journals do not provide insight into students life-long learning behavior.
By definition, life-long learning is an activity that happens in the future. Therefore, the
results of the Fishbein and Ajzen questionnaire are presented to reveal whether students
intend to use metacognitive or self-directed learning skills in the future. The
combination of journals and Fishbein and Ajzen questionnaires helps to reveal in what
ways PBL affects students life-long learning behavior.
Metacognitive Skills
This section presents the results of the guided journal and Fishbein and Ajzen
questionnaire related to the effect of PBL on metacognitive skills. Metacognition is an
...knowledge about their own cognitive processes and their ability to
control these processes by organizing, monitoring, and modifying them
as a function of learning outcomes. (Weinstein & Mayer, 1986, p. 323)
Therefore, metacognitive skills are self-regulatory skills that enable learners to
determine what they know and do not know, predict outcomes, plan ahead, schedule
time and resources, and monitor progress (Glaser, 1984). In other words,
metacognitive skills empower learners to manage and be responsible for the learning

process. The metacognidve skills that support life-long learning activitiesthe focus
of this studyinclude the abilities to (Ridley, Schutz, Glanz, & Weinstein, 1992):
utilize prior knowledge;
assess progress;
set learning goals and create action plans; and
modify learning strategies.
To examine PBLs impact on the development of these metacognitive skills, students
responded to journal questions related to these four metacognitive skill areas. The
results of the Fishbein and Ajzen questionnaire reveal whether students intend to utilize
these metacognitive skills in the future. In this way, the research results provide an
indication of PBL affect on students ability and intent to engage in life-long learning.
Utilizing Prior Knowledge
Utilizing prior knowledge requires students to compare the characteristics of the
new problem to those in previously solved problems. This ability to relate prior
knowledge to new knowledge is a metacognitive skill. To determine how involvement
in the PBL activity impacted students utilization of prior knowledge, students were
asked to answer the following question in their guided journals at the end of each
5) What did you already know that was helpful this week?
Don't restrict your answer to things learned in this class. Did
you learn something from previous classes that was useful?
Any debugging techniques? Any work experience? Any way of
approaching a problem? How were these things useful?
Journal Results for Weeks 1-2. During the first two weeks of the library project,
students did not describe useful prior knowledge with any level of specificity. In fact,
the majority of students? left the question unanswered. A few students recognized that

information acquired during a previous class meeting was important, although did not
describe how they thought the information would help them with the new project
8: Last week I learned to do object models. These models helped me
identify objects and enforce data encapsulation and data
10: The previous class discussion about object behaviors helped me to
think in terms of what objects do. This proved helpful in thinking
in terms of defining the methods/services of an object
Other students recognized that prior experience, including experience gained in
other courses, was helpful, but did not specify how this previously acquired
information would affect their work on the library project
6: C language and Assembly and Data Structure classes.
15: My explorations of Unix and Emacs proved especially helpful
when it came time to compile.
7: Previously learned different programming languages, structure of
programming and computer experience has made it possible for
me to at least follow the conversation taken place in our group
design discussions.
11: My experience with the C language.
Other students believed that although they had taken other computer programming
courses and had experience solving programming problems, they did not possess
knowledge that would be useful in working through the library problem.
5: Nothing.
18: I can't think of anything...
17: Right now, not much. It feels like I know very little.
9: What I already knew didn't help me much.
In summary, even if students believed they had knowledge that would help them
work through the library problem, they did not describe how that knowledge would be

used. The students journal entries did not reveal whether they knew how to apply
previously learned content and skills to die library project A few students did not even
recognize that they possessed knowledge that would be helpful in solving the library
Journal Results from Weeks 3-5. From week three on, the majority of students
began to see they had previous programming experiences that helped them address the
requirements of the current project
18: Another resource that has helped in my understanding of C++
concepts is die JAVA language. I have been spending some free
time trying to learn JAVA which is another, newer object oriented
language. Many of the concepts from java carry over and prove
quite useful in figuring out C++ as they overlap conceptually, but
coding is often different giving multiple views of similar
5: The thing that I found most helpful this week was my experience
with compilers. Since I have used a great many different
compilers over the years, I have found that I have a better grasp of
understanding compiler errors.
4: The organizational thought process I have developed in my
database programming experience I believe helps me conceptualize
the means to the solution as far as combining structures, functions
and data.
15: Knew how to use a makefile which was helpful in compiling.
Used the VI editor to go to lines that were causing compiler errors.
Used previous knowledge of C language to implement C++ code
for this project Knowledge of C made some of the C++ syntax
constructs easier to grasp and understand. Understanding of
'Surfing' the internet and using FTP was useful in transferring the
STL templates.
Other students were thinking about how they could apply what they learned earlier
in the semester to the problem.
2: I learned that objects can be associated in "has-a" type
relationships. This week I learned that "has-a" relationships can be
implemented through a pointer or set of pointers. This helped me
to understand that the relationship between the search engine
object and the list object I now see how the search engine can
point to the and not actually contain the list

10: Understanding the concept of polymorphism [learned earlier in the
semester] allowed me to extract the member functions and define
die virtual functions btwn classes and subclasses.
Summary of the Guided Journal Results. The results of the guided journal indicate
that during their involvement in the PBL project, students began to realize that they
possessed prior knowledge that was useful in working towards a solution to the library
project After involvement in the PBL activity, students began to recognize and
describe how information learned in previous courses was helpful. Students also
began to describe how knowledge they had about seemingly unrelated topics, such as
compilers and the Internet helped them work on the library project Students journal
entries became more detailed, describing with greater precision how prior knowledge
was helpful and how it was applied to the library problem. These results support the
view that PBL encourages students to recognize the existence of, as well as utilize, their
prior knowledge. To examine whether or not students will continue to apply this skill in
the future, as per the definition of life-long learning, the results of the Fishbein and
Ajzen questionnaire were examined.
Results of the Fishbein and Ajzen Questionnaire. The results of the Fishbein and
Ajzen questionnaire help determine whether students intend to perform certain
behaviors in the future. Students were asked one question related to prior knowledge

Figure 4.1
Prior Knowledge. Utilization
19) I intend to use information and skills I have acquired previously.
unlikelv : : likelv
extremely quite slightly neither slightly quite extremely
(-3) (-2) (-1) (0) (1) (2) (3)
Frequency = 0 10 0 1 4 14
Mean = 2.450; St Dev. = 1.191; Min. = -2; Max. = 3
The focus of question 19 is on students intentions to use prior knowledge in the
future, only one aspect of the resource utilization skill. Unfortunately, students were
not asked about the other aspect: how they intend to use prior knowledge in the future.
However, this omission does not deter from the results of question 19.
Although the standard deviation score for question 19 is high, indicating a more
heterogeneous range of responses**, the mean score shows that students intend to utilize
previously acquired knowledge when facing a new problem or project This result
indicates that students, who were encouraged to recognize and utilize their prior
knowledge during the PBL activity, will continue to perform this behavior in the future.
Assessing Progress. Setting Goals, and Creating Action Plans
Another important metacognitive skill is the ability to manage the learning process.
This requires the ability to assess the status of a learning or problem solving endeavor
and react accordingly. When faced with a new problem, students with this skill set
goals that will help them meet the requirements of the new problem. After setting
goals, metacognitively aware students create plans-of-action, including timelines, for
meeting those goals. Throughout the duration of the problem solving activity, students
with this metacognitive skill examine the progress they have made and adjust their goals

and action plans accordingly. In order to determine how involvement in the PBL
activity affected students ability to assess their progress, set goals, and create action
plans, students were asked to answer the following question in their guided journals:
4) What do you stQl have to accomplish to finish this project?
Given when the project must be finished, describe what you still
need to do. Bedetailed. Describe how long you expect each
item to take and what resources you have identified to complete
the project.
Journal Results for Weeks 1-2. During the first two weeks of the project,
students journal responses indicated they were overwhelmed by the amount of work
that was left to be completed. A few students were unable to assess their progress with
any level of accuracy. A few students did not believe that they had made any progress
at all The goals students were setting during the beginning of the project had to do
with learning as much as they could about C++. Their action plans involved reading
their textbooks.
3: I don't know where to begin. There is so much to do that I'm not
getting any thing done!
12: Everything! I know so little I guess I have to learn everything
about C++. Ive been reading my book, I guess that is as good a
place to start
4: I have to be honest I have accomplished very little. I don't know
enough to even guess at how long it will take to do this project
All IVe been do so far is reading the text and coming to class.
Although these responses may be caused by students inability to assess their
progress, they may also be caused by students feeling overwhelmed at the beginning of
a project
Journal Results from Weeks 3-5. From week three on, students began to more
clearly describe their learning goals and action plans for meeting those goals based on
how much of the project they had left to complete. Some students became more

specific about their goals and plans, including how much time they were allotting to
complete each goal
6: Largely, the remainder of die project includes the following:
1. Pieceing the code fragments together = 5 hours
2. resloving the issues poised above so that 1 may be completed
= 3 hours
3. updating the design to reflect the current algoritm(s) =6-8
4. debugging the overall search engine = ? (hopefully not too
much time!)
5. writing and debugging of the test program = 4 hours
Most of the resources needed are the text and intrapersonal
13: I need to write the code for the initialization and parsing
functions. The outline is composed, so this should take 1-2 hrs.
* Need to adapt the List library to the program. This will require
the group's help and possibly die instructors. This could take 2-8
hrs. depending on my level of understanding.
* I need to create search class and masterlist and retumlist sub-
classes. Need to understand how the List library works to do this.
The coding should take 1-2 hrs.
* Still need to write the test program. The text should be the most
help. About 1-2 hrs.
* Finish writing meia subclasses. Text book helping. 1-2 hrs.
14: I have been able to open a file and read in the data into my
program; I have also been able to compare a search key to words
in a string using stmcmpO and the routines. I still need
to attach an object to the list and to be able to move through that
list to fetch another string to compare. I think that understanding
die interface functions to die pre-written Class List will help
answer these remaining tasks. By fine-tuning the definitions of
the classes, the search details should become apparent Estimated
time is 2 to 3 days. I also have to write the test program that will
request the user for a search key, call SearchEngine, and display
the objects found. Since much of this code is being done
piecemeal to test various parts of the SearchEngine routines, this
will just be a matter of pulling small pieces of code together.
Estimated time is half a day.
4: Currentiy, I have implemented the reading of die book file and
storing the data in a linked list, searching the list for a match on the
'Call Number' and then printing out the matched record. I still
need to implement the Search by author, subject, and notes as well
as the Search by other for all medias. This should take ~3~4 hrs to
implement and test I need to implement the reading of the video,
film, and periodical files. This should take 3-4 hrs. I also need to

write code to display the records that have been matched on(~ 1
hr). I need to document the code and test it thoroughly(~2 brs).
11: I have four remaining tasks for this project
1) Get the list class to work. I'm not sure how long this will take,
hopefully I will get some answers tonight If I can get past the
initial hump then I suspect the coding of the list portion of the
project will take an hour or two. I will have to use the
teacher,classmates, and example code for resources.
2) Debug. Figure out an appropriate testing strategy for the code.
I will be using the teacher, classmates, my development team, and
the gdb debugger to debug the code. This will probably take a
few days to finish up.
3) Clean up the code. The C++ reference books will be helpful
here as will some examples of efficiently implimented classes. I
would also like to use the string class to further clean up the code.
This will take a day or so to finish.
4) Finish the written design for handing in. I will use my
development team to finish up this part of the project
Even students who still believed they had a lot of work to complete began to
describe their goals and allot time to those goals.
1: Just about every aspect of the coding is incomplete. I have begun
to code most of the areas of the project but none are close to
complete. The major factor affecting the rate at which this goal
will be achieved is in the learning curve of the syntax, etc... I
estimate that the time to complete the initialization routine is about
3 hours or so. Then the search functions and SE class must be
completed, requiring about 6 or so hours more. Then the media
class and subclasses must be wrapped up, though I see this part as
the least difficult at this stage. My understanding of how things
work is probably greatest in this area. I believe all the necessary
resources are at my disposal now.
Finally, a few students reflected on the importance of setting goals and creating
action plans as a necessary part of the problem solving process.
15: I have learned over the past week that creating a program is more
than just sitting down at the computer and typing in the code. It is
also more helpful to completely examine the project and come up
with a plan of action and a program design before even attempting
to begin coding. Before this time I usually just decided what the
program would include and began programming and handled
problems as they would come up by rewording or rewriting the
code or including or excluding segments of code. I now realize

that a plan of action helps to eliminate some of these problems and
helps to create a better solution and program.
Summary of the Guided Journal Results. The results of the guided journal show a
change in the way students described their progress on the library project Students
went from being overwhelmed with the amount of work to being able to set realistic
and manageable goals; the change in students ability to describe their status and
respond accordingly is apparent
Results of the Fishbein and Ajzen Questionnaire. The results of the Rshbein and
Ajzen questionnaire indicate whether students intend to manage their learning process
by assessing their progress, setting goals, and creating action plans in the future. Since
those are three separate activities, students responded to three different questions:

Figure 4.2
Managing Learning Process
16) I intend to be responsible for determining my own learning progress.
extremely quite slightly neither slightly quite extremely
(-3) (-2) (-1) (0) (1) (2) (3)
Frequency = 0 0 1 0 1 10 8
Mean = 2.200; St Dev. = .951; Min. = -1; Max. = 3
7) I intend to set goals to learn missing skills or acquire information before I begin
creating a solution to a problem.
extremely quite slightly neither slightly quite extremely
(-3) (-2) (-1) (0) (1) (2) (3)
Frequency =1 23 1 56 2
Mean = .650; St. Dev. = 1.755; Min. = -3; Max. = 3
8) I intend to create action plans to learn missing skills or acquire information
before I begin creating a solution to a problem.
extremely quite slightly neither slightly quite extremely
(-3) (-2) (-1) (0) (1) (2) (3)
Frequency = 2 3 5 1 5 3 1
Mean = -.150; St Dev. = 1.785; Min. = -3; Max. = 3___________________________
The mean score for question 16 indicates that students are likely to determine their
learning progress in the future, supporting the notion that PBL encourages students to
assess their progress not only during the PBL activity but in the future. The results of
questions 7 and 8 are less conclusive due to the low means, hi fact, for question 8 the
negative mean indicates that student are less likely to create action plans in the future.

Examining student responses for question 7 more closely, thirteen students
indicated that it was slightly, quite, or extremely likely they would set goals. Six
students responded that it was unlikely they would set goals and one student provided a
neutral response. Although the responses are more diverse, the majority of students
responded positively to question 7.
On question 8, student responses were more evenly distributed across the scale.
Nine students indicated that it was likely they would create action plans, ten students
indicated that it was unlikely they would create action plans, and one students response
was neutral, hi this case, more students indicated that they would probably not create
action plans during subsequent learning activities.
Although students demonstrated an ability to set goals and create action plans in
their journals, the results of questions 7 and 8 show they do not necessarily intend to
continue to engage in those activities in the future. This may be caused by students
perceptions regarding the importance of setting goals and creating action plans; it may
mean that the importance of these activities was not emphasized during learning
activities (see Chapter 5, p. 159). Regardless of underlying cause, these results
suggest that involvement in PBL may help students develop the skills needed to engage
in these specific metacognitive activities but does not necessarily lead to a continuing
determination to further utilize these skills to engage in life-long learning activities.
Students with metacognitive skills adjust the learning and problem solving
strategies they utilize based on the requirements of the task in which they are engaged.
Modifying a strategy requires students to assess the effectiveness of the strategy and
adjust the strategy or switch to another strategy to better meet the needs of the task.
This self-monitoring activity is an important part of being metacognitively aware and is

a skill promoted in PBL. To examine changes in students ability to modify their
strategies when needed, students answered the following two questions in their
7) What had you learned previously that needed to be revised in
light of what you did this week?
Did you have an understanding of how something worked and
then discovered that you needed more irformation to change or
improve your understanding? How did your understanding
change? Why did you have to change your understanding? Did
you have to change the way you normally approached a
problem? How did you change your approach? Why did you
change your approach?
11) Describe a new approach you took to resolve a problem you
encountered this week.
What stopped you from making progress? What did you do to
be able to move forward successfully again? Dont consider
only problems associated with producing something. Also
consider how you resolved problems with understanding.
Journal Results for Weeks 1-2. During weeks one and two many students saw no
need for strategy revision, finding their initial strategy selection to be appropriate for the
task at hand.
10: I havent had to revise anything yet
8: There was no need for revision.
20: If the approaches that I have used before yielded favorable results,
why should I not use them again.
Journal Results from Weeks 3-5. During weeks three through five, students
journal responses indicated they were unsatisfied with their learning strategies. Some
students described how reading textbooks and employing debuggers were ineffective
strategies to use to meet their learning goals. The majority of students began to
describe how different strategiessuch as, e-mailing problematic parts of their
programs to classmates for advice, asking the instructor for help, conducting structured

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