mcc2 300HOPKINS COUNTY, Ky. (10/17/13) - When Madisonville Community College students returned to campus for the fall semester, many experienced an innovative approach to instruction. Using the Problem-Based Learning approach, students engage in complex, challenging problems and collaboratively work toward their resolution. PBL is about students connecting disciplinary knowledge to real-world problems; the motivation to solve a problem becomes the motivation to learn.

“Problem-based learning holds great promise for creating a more engaged learning experience,” said Chief Academic Affairs Officer Dr. Deborah Cox. “Evidence also suggests that the more engaged a student is, the more likely they are to persist toward degree completion. We want the learning experience in college to prepare students to be good problem-solvers on the job.”

Twenty-four MCC faculty attended a two-day workshop on Problem-Based Learning conducted by Dr. Mark Serva, Associate Professor of Management Information Systems and Associate Director of the Leaders and Fellows of the Institute for Transforming Undergraduate Education at the University of Delaware.

For more than 10 years, ITUE has encouraged the adoption of student-centered and active classroom pedagogies — and in particular —t he use of PBL in the undergraduate classroom. During the workshop, MCC faculty participated in the process of writing PBL problems that are being used in their fall classes. A collection of over twenty problems were presented, evaluated, and judged in disciplines ranging from business, information technology, economics, human services, paralegal, history, mining, criminal justice, writing, biology, chemistry and physics. This move away from traditional all-lecture faculty-centered classes to real world, active learning, student-centered classes places MCC among some of the most forward thinking colleges in the nation. Research into student learning is repeatedly showing that today’s students are better prepared for the work place when their education and preparation includes high level communication skills, the ability to define problems, the ability to gather and evaluate information and develop solutions, team skills and the ability to use these skills in addressing problems in a complex real-world setting. Would you prefer to approach a physics problem from the perspective of a formula or from analyzing missile launches in the Middle East? Would you prefer to learn computer skills by completing homework assignments or by researching and compiling information to outsmart a used car salesman?

Another aspect of a PBL classroom is what is commonly called a “flipped classroom” where students spend out-of-class learning time watching a video and in-class learning time working in groups with instructor assistance. Lectures are not entirely out of the classroom in PBL, but moved to “mini-lectures” for the purpose of clarification. Moving the instructor from the front of the classroom and into the classroom supports the “Hawthorne Effect” - that productivity of workers increase if management cares about the workers, or in the case of education, that students will learn more if the instructors care about their learning.

Spring 2014 classes start January 13th. For more information, please contact the MCC Enrollment Center at (270) 824-8621 or online at

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