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Problem-Based Learning the 4 Core Areas (PBL4C) in Mathematics Education

Problem-Based Learning the 4 Core Areas (PBL4C) in Mathematics Education

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Published by teohboontat
Problem-Based Learning the 4 Core Areas (PBL4C) in the search of excellence in Mathematics education
by Teoh Boon Tat, Warabhorn Preechaporn & Leong Chee Kin
Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation, Regional Centre for Education in Science and Mathematics (SEAMEO RECSAM) Penang, Malaysia
for EARCOME 5 Conference, Tokyo, Japan, August 2010.
Problem-Based Learning the 4 Core Areas (PBL4C) in the search of excellence in Mathematics education
by Teoh Boon Tat, Warabhorn Preechaporn & Leong Chee Kin
Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation, Regional Centre for Education in Science and Mathematics (SEAMEO RECSAM) Penang, Malaysia
for EARCOME 5 Conference, Tokyo, Japan, August 2010.

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Published by: teohboontat on May 12, 2011
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 5
th
EARCOME Conference, 18-22 August 2010 Tokyo
 –
 
In search of excellence in mathematics education
Problem-Based Learning the 4 Core Areas(PBL4C)in the search of excellence in Mathematics education
Teoh Boon Tat Warabhorn Preechaporn Leong Chee Kin 
Mathematics Education SpecialistsSoutheast Asian Ministers of Education OrganisationRegional Centre for Education in Science and MathematicsSEAMEO RECSAMPenang, Malaysia
Abstract
: Problem-based learning (PBL) has fast been adopted in many fields of educationincluding the search of excellence in the field of Mathematics education. As expected,diversity in forms has emerged. Whilst the main processes of PBL can commonly be foundin many of the diversed forms, one question arises in regard to the purpose of using the PBLapproach in Mathematics education in particular, and in any other subjects of learning ingeneral, in solving real life problems
 –
what kind of problems? Problem-Based Learning the4 Core Areas (PBL4C) emerges in trying to provide solutions to this pertinent question. The4 core areas incorporated in this form of PBL are the core areas of content, thinkingprocesses, skills and values. The interconnectivity and significance between these coreareas are illustrated through a PBL activity. This paper further proposes with reasons whythese 4 core areas could be the holistic goal of education for any nation, beyondMathematics, in the search of excellence in lifelong education.
 
Key words
Problem-based learning; PBL4C; 4 core areas; Values; Lifelong learning
Introduction
Problem-based learning (PBL) comes in various models. Common features and processes,however, could be identified in this variety of models. Among them: identifying the problem;gathering the information given unique to the problem; procuring extra information in theview of finding a solution to the problem; generating possible solutions; communicating,accommodating, selecting and executing the best solution, and finally making a presentationof the solution. Evaluation and facilitation are among other important features of PBL (Finkle& Torp, 1995; Lambros, 2002; Wee, 2004). One feature which we found to be quite uniqueto the PBL approach is the
ability to introduce change in student‟s
learning through theprovided scenarios (Teoh & Preechaporn, 2009) and thus presenting an opportunity forstudents to learn about change management, a lifelong learning skill.In this paper, while still maintaining these important features and processes, the purpose ofPBL in Mathematics education, or in whatever subjects the approach is used, becomescrucial with the asking of the following question:
what kind of problems?
In our search ofexcellence in education generally and in Mathematics specifically, while trying to find somepossible answers to this pertinent question, Problem-Based Learning the 4 Core Areas(PBL4C) emerged. The four core areas that we are proposing in PBL4C are the core areasof
content, skills, thinking processes, and values
(Teoh & Warabhorn, 2009). We will
now illustrate the 4 core areas in a student‟s learning
by using the following PBL activity.
 
 5
th
EARCOME Conference, 18-22 August 2010 Tokyo
 –
 
In search of excellence in mathematics education
Illustrating the 4 Core Areas in PBL4C
This paper posits that the reader is acquainted with the fundamentals in implementing a PBLactivity in the classroom.
 The PBL4C ActivityActivity Title
: Designing
the Prime Minister‟s Garden
 
Synopsis
: The Prime Minister (PM) has decided to rebuild the garden of the official guestresidence. He has invited 3 international renowned companies to design and bid for theproject tender to make the garden an international icon with local architecture and flavour.
Problem
: The Prime Minister has a garden in his official guest residence where importantforeign dignitaries stay. He has invited 3 international renowned landscape companies todesign and bid for the project through tender to make the garden a national icon well knowninternationally incorporating local architecture. Apply for the jobs advertised by thecompanies by giving your resume stating your skills and interests that suit the job you areapplying for. When you are employed, you will need to work as a team in the company todesign & draw the garden plan. Local cultural-architectural features need to be incorporatedin the design. Calculate the cost and decide how much your company will quote the PM forthe project. You are required to present your team
‟s
design and price quotation to the PMand his panel for consideration and selection. Bear in mind that the PM is a math wizard andany structure and design related to the subject always excites him and may affect theoutcome of the selection! By the way, the PM is also sentimental towards nature and anydesign that features sustainability of nature is a definite advantage.
The ScenariosScenario 1: Job Application
 The 3 companies invited are:1. Majestic Gardens Asia Co.2. B Big Landscape Co.3. RECreation Themes International Ltd.Among the jobs advertised on their company websites are:1. Project Manager 4. ICT Expert 7. Accountant2. Creative Designer 5. Budget Planner 8. Culture Expert3. Artist 6. Landscape Specialist 9. EnvironmentalistWrite your resume indicating your areas of expertise to secure one of the jobs and send it tothe company that you have selected through email to garden@gmail.com.Application closes tomorrow. Your resume should include the following information:1. Company applied to2. Job applied for3. Your own skills & values that you have that you think will get you the job4. Other skills & values that you would like to be given training for the job5. Other relevant information
Scenario 2:
 
Designing the Garden
&
Drawing the Plan
 Your company that hires you requires you to work as a team on this garden project. The
 
 5
th
EARCOME Conference, 18-22 August 2010 Tokyo
 –
 
In search of excellence in mathematics education
PM‟s
garden is rectangular in shape and is almost the same size as RECSAM Park. Designyour garden using the park as your guide to visualize your plans. Research the localarchitecture and the idea on sustainable development, and then design the garden to
capture the PM‟s passions
in Mathematics and nature. You only need to draw the plan
 
of thegarden and it has to be drawn according to scale. Remember you will need the drawing tomake a presentation to the PM later. The following are the features set by the PM that youhave to fulfill:(i) A fountain in the centre of a circular pond. There is a concentric foot pathsurrounding the pond.(ii) Some moving structures and they are always moving at equidistance from onecorner of the rectangular area.(iii) Another foot path is built in such a way that when you stand at the centre of the footpath you are always the same distance from two of the structures in (ii).(iv) Two rows of flower bed which are always at a distance 10 metres from the centre ofthe foot path in (iii).(v) You can add in other suitable features to allow your company to stand a higherchance of winning the award !
Scenario 3:
 
Calculating the Cost
Your team needs to work out the total cost for the professional design and materials neededfor your design of the garden. Prepare an itemised list clearly stating their unit cost and thenumber of units needed for the project. Each member in the team should be allotted tasks tocalculate specific structures in the design. You may also need to include the cost of labour inyour budget like your own salary, allowances and perks, and bonuses, if any. Work out thecost and discuss it among your own team members. Then decide on the profit margin yourcompany will make from the total cost. Decide collectively on the price you will quote the PM.Submit your tender containing your design, costing and pricing to the PM.
Scenario 4:
 
World Financial Crisis Strikes
 The world financial crisis strikes, as always unexpectedly. The PM decides to have a cut inthe budget allocation for the garden project. There will be a reduction of 40% of the pricequoted. Review the design and materials used. Recalculate the cost, and finally the newprice. Reevaluate the feasibility of the project. Resubmit your design, costing and pricing tothe PM.
Scenario 5:
 
Presenting the Garden Design and The Price Tag
Make a presentation of your garden design and price quotation to the Prime Minister and themembers of his selection panel.You are given 15 minutes to do the presentation.
Connecting the Scenarios and the 4 Core Areas
Scenario 1 provides an opportunity for the students to explore themselves regarding theskills that they have and their interests, and explore what skills certain jobs require.Scenario 2 not only involves mathematics content and skills but also appreciation of localcultural architecture and the importance of incorporating sustainability issues in the area ofvalues, which the world urgently needs.

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