Resource Database: Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Title Problem-Based Learning and World Regional Geography
Originator Eric J. Fournier
Department Department of Geography, Samford University, Birmingham, AL 35229 USA
Tel. +1 205 870-2113
Fax +1 205 870-2359

Problem-based learning (PBL) is an instructional approach that develops problem solving strategies, disciplinary knowledge, and skills. This is achieved by placing students in the active role of problem solvers confronted with an ill-structured problem which mirrors real-world problems. Samford University received a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts to develop and field test 35 PBL courses.

One of the classes chosen for this effort was the introductory world regional geography class. Students are divided into pre-selected groups of four, and then work together in those groups to solve a series of regionally-based problems. An introductory module serves to aquaint students with group dynamics and problem solving skills through the use of a mental mapping exercise and a CD atlas.

Another module explores population and migration in South America. In a third students assume the role of Peace Corps volunteers in a remote African village on the brink of famine. In addition to these three major modules, there will be a series of shorter, case-based modules that are used to complement the traditional lecture and discussion format of the class. Such an approach is expected to enhance problem-solving skills, build critical thinking skills, and better prepare students to function in a constantly changing world.

Relevant References


Active learning
Group work
Problem-based learning
World regional geography

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Page created 14 July 1998
Page updated 2 October 1999
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