T2 - Hurricane Season-Prepare!
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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.


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A critical part of the discussion will focus on the conceptual theme, or Big Idea, and important concepts you have developed during the unit. If the ideas have not 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, you can click on them now, or access them through the Professional Information Center at any time.

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 do we know about how to approach a complex problem?
  • Now that we have seen how different perspectives affect decision-making, can we think of other decisions where differing points of view had to be considered?
  • What is the important thing for us to understand from this situation?
  • How might we apply that idea in other situations?

In Hurricane Season - Prepare! you could ask questions like the following :

Reflection on the Big Idea ("Predictions of high probability inform preparedness.")

  • What predictions were we using in this problem?
  • How probable was it that they would occur?
  • How did prediction help us prepare for the possibility of an event (in this case, a hurricane)?
  • How can prediction help us prepare for other events? How does an understanding of prediction and probability contribute to our understanding of the natural world?

Reflection on Decision-Making and Problem-Solving

  • How did our understanding of probability help us make our decision (in this case, whether and when to evacuate)?
  • How might an understanding of prediction and probability help us to solve other problems or make other decisions?
  • What were the benefits of our decision to evacuate or not? The costs?
  • What influenced us most in our decision?
  • What values or ethical issues influenced our decision?
  • Are we sure we made the best choice?
  • Are we sure we chose the best solution?
  • What criteria did we use to select from among alternatives?

Reflection on Product Development

  • What are the strengths of our emergency plan? The weaknesses?
  • Did we choose the best method of publication and communication?
  • What alternatives did we consider? Were there others we should have considered?
  • How did our understanding of the population of the county influence our plan?
  • How did the population influence how we published and communicated our plan? How we put it into action?
  • How did location influence our plan?
  • When a hurricane actually came, did we find our plan covered most contingencies? That is, did it work well?
  • Would we change anything now?


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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, click here or 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.


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

Hurricane Isabel - NOAA
Photo courtesy of NASA

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