I am a part-time voluntary lecturer at Askham Bryan College teaching Food Science modules. I teach relevant topics to young learners at Further Education (Level 3) and Higher Education (Level 4-6) programmes. Being an employee in a food manufacturing company, one of the concerns that I have is bridging the gap between learning at college and its application to the industry. As argued by Gough (cited in Cotton, 1991), if students are to perform successfully in a highly technical society, they have to be equipped with thinking skills essential to rapidly acquire and process information to solve problems in real-life situations. It is ideal that students acquire skills by doing and expanding their knowledge through involvement.
“Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is a novel approach to challenge learners to focus on real-world problems and resolve realistic dilemmas. Such problems generate opportunities for meaningful activities that engage students in problem solving and higher-ordered thinking in genuine settings” (HAFL, 2012, p.1). Although most disciplines are suitable to this type of approach, few subjects actually take advantage of the PBL method (Burris & Garton, 2007, p.107). During problem based learning, learners are guided through a process that includes objectives, problems, research abilities, solution development activities, and assessments (Torp & Sage, 1998, p.14).
In this specialist paper, I intend to investigate how appropriate the PBL approach is in solving the diminishing performance at the Westfield Dairy Farm at Askham Bryan College. In this particular instance, learners working in groups were presented with a problem (Mastitis in Westfield Dairy Farm) and asked to examine preliminary data. With my support, the group researched the theory behind the problem. During mind-mapping sessions, each group shared the results of their research with rest of the class, received feedback and continued investigating the problem.