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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

Problem-based learning in photonics technology education: assessing student learning
Author(s): Nicholas Massa; Michele Dischino; Judith Donnelly; Fenna Hanes

Paper Abstract

Problem-based learning (PBL) is an instructional approach whereby students learn course content by collaboratively solving complex real-world problems and reflecting on their experience. Research shows that PBL improves student knowledge and retention, motivation, problem-solving skills, and the ability to skillfully apply knowledge in new situations. One of the challenges with PBL, however, is that real-world problems are typically open-ended with more than one possible solution, which poses a challenge to educators with regard to assessing student performance. In this paper, we describe an approach to assessing student performance in PBL developed by the Photon PBL Project, a three-year National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (NSF-ATE) project in which eight interdisciplinary multimedia PBL “Challenges” were created in collaboration with photonics industry and university partners for use in high school and college math, science and technology courses. Assessment included measures of content knowledge, conceptual knowledge, problem-solving skills, motivation, self-efficacy, and metacognitive ability. Results from pilot testing at four community college photonics technology programs are presented.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 June 2009
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 9666, 11th Education and Training in Optics and Photonics Conference, 96661K (5 June 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.2208043
Show Author Affiliations
Nicholas Massa, Springfield Technical Community College (United States)
Michele Dischino, Central Connecticut State Univ. (United States)
Judith Donnelly, Three Rivers Community College (United States)
Fenna Hanes, New England Board of Higher Education (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9666:
11th Education and Training in Optics and Photonics Conference
K. Alan Shore, Editor(s)

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