FIRST YEAR AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE STUDENT PERSPECTIVES IN GRADUATE ATTRIBUTE DEVELOPMENT THROUGH PROBLEM-BASED LEARNING

Daniel K. Y. Tan, Anthony Koppi, Damien J. Field

Abstract


Academic staff are required to include graduate attributes like inquiry and problem-solving in student learning to meet university proclamations. In response to student evaluations that a traditional lecture-based first year agriculture science course was not effective in motivating students, a new course introduced inquiry orientated learning primarily to motivate and engage students, to promote deep learning and problem-solving skills. The approach adopted problem-based learning to develop discipline knowledge and graduate attributes in a seamless manner. Instead of giving the students a questionnaire with options for students to indicate what graduate attribute they had learned, a structured learning journal was used to question students about their learning without specifically asking about any graduate attributes. Analysis of the learning journals revealed that significant numbers of students perceived that they had learned or practiced a range of graduate attributes, including teamwork, research, personal attributes, writing abilities, time management, problem solving, leadership, and multidisciplinary skills. The students had learned and practiced these graduate attributes while engaging in authentic problem-solving activities as groups in online and face-to-face environments. These student perceptions exceeded the teachers’ expectations and revealed that problem-based learning in teams can be used for learning discipline knowledge and developing graduate attributes.

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