**PBL in a physics class**Should you implement

*problem-based learning* when teaching physics? My first impression is yes it should work. Here's a short & simplified case description of my recent experience of PBL that we did during a pedagogy course in University of Helsinki.

There had been a car accident in a road crossing. The police wanted to know if one of the drivers was guilty. We knew about the drivers' conditions after the accident. We knew the speed limits etc. and data like the weights of the cars, the point where the cars had hit each other, the final locations of the vehicles and marks on the road. Plus that it had been a sunny day (but would that be important?). The description seemed understandable. So the

**1st PBL step** was cleared.

We ran into confusion. What's there to find out? Seemed there's still not enough information, the case is not well described. Should the police rush into the hospital to interview the drivers or what? We needed to find out what happened and decided more information is needed. This was our

**2nd PBL step**, defining the problem.

Brainstorming followed and a lot of post-it notes on all things related to the case were produced - the

**3rd PBL step**.

After reorganizing it started to make sense, there's physics issues and other issues that one could look into. As it was physics-related we focused on the idea that we need a clear description of the physical situations, quantities and factors affecting the moving objects. This combined with the laws of physics should be enough to solve the initial velocities of the cars, the question who is guilty.

Thus the

**4th PBL step** was reached: our working hypothesis was that if we figure out clearly the data, the geometry and the relevant equations for the situation we could solve the problem. As the learning objective (

**5th PBL step**), we decided to build the full model for the accident from the physics point of view.

The rest turned out to be a nice and useful refreshing of memory about conservation of momentum in the collision, kinetic energy, accelerating and decelerating movement, first as individual learning (

**6th PBL step**). One of us put the things on a spreadsheet for easy simulation and the model was clear after our group meeting and checking the details. We continued more to learn and refresh the topics individually. The final collecting and presenting of the results followed (

**7th PBL step**). The spreadsheet was useful to check how the initial values influence the end result (that is, under which conditions the drivers were guilty).

It was a great hands-on learning experience of what

#PBL can be in

#physics education, and it was clearly learning together in a group with people from different backgrounds. Thanks for interest on this

+Jan Jensen . There's probably many ways how this case could be extended and designed for more advanced courses. However, PBL doesn't make the life of the teacher any easier than in other courses - more on this later.

#pedagogy What is problem-based learning? My

+Scoop.it post with a couple of links:

http://sco.lt/5k2fOT