Date of Award

2003

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Curriculum and Instruction PhD

First Advisor

Paul S. Brantley

Second Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Third Advisor

Joseph Warren

Abstract

Problem

One of the founders of Seventh-day Adventist education, Ellen G. White, advocated learning through, practical experiences and critical thinking. In 1997, the Seventh-day Adventist Church recommended problem-based learning (PBL) as a preferred teaching practice for its North American K-12 schools. However, Brantley and Ruiz observed that many Seventh-day Adventist educators feel inadequate to use this method of instruction. Little information exists anywhere concerning teachers’ awareness and perceptions o f problem-based learning (PBL) or factors related to its use. This study examined the relationship between PBL, philosophy of teaching, preferences for PBL teaching components, and perceived barriers to PBL adoption and use.

Method

An ex post facto survey was conducted among a convenience sample of 315 K-12 teachers in 50 schools in Florida. Four instruments were used to gather data to answer four research questions. The same instruments were administered to a group of experienced PBL teachers and results were compared to the Adventist group.

Results

The majority of Seventh-day Adventist K-12 teachers in Florida are unaware of problem-based learning (PBL). Teachers who embrace a student-centered teaching preference are more likely to be aware of PBL. Little more than half the teachers have a student-centered teaching philosophy, and less than half appreciate the student-centered teaching components of PBL. Teaching philosophy is related to the teachers’ age and preference for PBL teaching components. More female than male teachers embrace the student-centered components ofPBL. The greatest perceived barriers to teacher implementation ofPBL included (1) assessing and reporting student learning, (2) allowing students’ needs and interests to determine pace and content of curriculum coverage, (3) a loosely structured, sometimes noisy learning environment, and (4) system unwillingness to provide PBL support sources. The majority o f the teachers did not identify factors that would deter them from implementing problem-based learning.

Conclusions

Although most Seventh-day Adventist teachers are unaware ofPBL and seem to embrace a teacher-centered teaching philosophy, they appear willing to learn about the method and to implement it in their classrooms. However, they do not expect support from their school systems, parents, and colleagues, as preconditions to successful adoption. It should be noted that the major barriers to PBL adoption appear to be reflective of the teaching philosophy of the school systems, parents, and teachers. Addressing these barriers is likely to increase the possibility that successful adoption will take place.

Subject Area

Problem-based learning.

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