T2 - The Alhambra Restoration
T2 Home
Professional Information Center | Student Investigation Center | Communication Center
horizontal line
horizontal line
Investigation/ Exploration
horizontal line
Resolution/ Refinement
horizontal line
horizontal line


The goal of Debriefing is to have students reflect and generalize. During this last phase of PBL, you lift students out of the problem context and have them look more broadly and abstractly at both content and process. You also encourage students to think about transfer possibilities, about general application of knowledge and skills, and about extension possibilities.


back to top

A critical part of the discussion will focus on the big idea and important concepts you have developed during the unit. If the ideas haven't been explicitly stated before (i.e., you chose to use an inductive approach), now is the time to make them explicit. If you want to read more about the deductive/inductive approach PDF to the big idea and/or about metacognitive inquiry PDF, please visit the Professional Information Center.

Questions you might ask:

  • Now that we have a better understanding of (content), what generalization might we make?
  • Now that we have engaged in this problem-solving experience, what can we say about how to approach a complex problem?
  • Now that we have seen the importance of values in decision-making, can we think of other decisions where values have played an important part?
  • What is the important thing for us to understand from this situation?
  • How might we apply that idea in other situations?

In The Alhambra Restoration unit, you could ask questions like the following:

Reflection on the Content

  • What patterns did we find as we participated in this problem situation? (artistic, mathematical, economic patterns: design of the mosaics, shape and number patterns, tessellations, cost rise and fall, etc.)
  • What does color communicate? How does color enhance the value/beauty of patterns?
  • How do culture and history affect pattern?
  • How are patterns mathematical? How is mathematics patterned?

Reflection on the Problem-Solving Process

  • How has an understanding of patterns helped us to solve this problem?
  • How might this understanding of patterns help us to solve other problems?
  • How do patterns contribute to our understanding of the world?
  • How does pattern recognition help us to predict events, behaviors?
  • How do patterns help us bring order out of chaos?
    • musical patterns (e.g., variations on a theme)
    • behavioral patterns cyclical patterns (e.g., seasons, weather, water, and life cycles)
    • historical patterns (history "repeating itself")

Reflection on Decision-Making

  • What are the advantages of our solution? the disadvantages?
  • What alternatives did we consider?
  • What led us to choose the solution we did rather than one of the alternatives?
  • Are we sure we chose the best solution?
  • What criteria did we use to select from among alternatives?
  • What values entered into our choice of a solution? (authentic patterns/design, materials, etc.; appeal to public/tourists; economy)
  • How do choices reflect values? How do values influence choices?
  • What have we learned about the value of aesthetics?
  • Why is it difficult to put a price on art?

Reflections on Product Development

  • Were we true to the Islamic artistic tradition?
  • Why is it important to respect tradition?
  • Who was the audience for our solution?
  • How did the audience affect how we presented our solution?


back to top

You might want to have students respond to some of your questions in writing for assessment purposes.

Concept Maps

Another assessment possibility is to have students complete a visual organizer. Be clear about what kind of knowledge or understanding you want your students to demonstrate, then decide on the type of graphic that would best represent that understanding. An alternative would be to ask students to create their own graphic using Inspiration ®HTML, or similar software, to represent their understanding.

If you asked students to draw a concept map at the beginning of the unit, have them draw another now. These pre-post maps can provide good evidence of growth, or change, in conceptual understanding over the course of the unit. For a brief paper on using concept maps as assessment tools PDF, please visit the Professional Information Center.

The key to good assessment is to give students multiple ways of showing what they know. In problem-based learning, the more authentic the assessment, the better.


back to top

This concludes the PBL process. We sincerely hope you and your students have enjoyed The Alhambra Restoration and that you will participate in other PBL experiences. But, please, before ending this one, take a moment to go to the Communication Center HTML and share your experiences HTML with us - about the Debriefing, or any part of the PBL process!

Photo of Alhambra
Photo courtesy of Joe Frank Jones, III

Copyright © 2004 Elon University.