T2 - The Malaria Mission
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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 can we say about how to approach a complex problem?
  • What is the important thing for us to understand from this situation?
  • How might we apply that idea in other situations?

In The Malaria Mission unit, you could ask questions like the following:

Reflection on the Big Idea

(“Systems interact, and the effects of interaction can be limiting or enabling.”)

  • What interactions among systems did we find as we participated in this problem situation?
  • Were some of the interactions limiting? Were some enabling? How?
  • How did our understanding of these interactions help us make our decision and devise our vaccination strategy?
  • How has an understanding of the interaction of systems helped us to solve this problem?
  • How might this understanding of interactions help us to solve other problems?
  • How does the recognition of the interaction of systems contribute to our understanding of the world?
  • How does an understanding of the interaction of systems help us to predict events, behaviors?
  • ("Systems interact, and the effects of interaction can be limiting or enabling.")

Reflection on Decision-Making and Problem-Solving

  • What are the advantages of our country selection? The disadvantages?
  • 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?
  • What values entered into our choice of a solution?
  • What have we learned about the effects of culture on acceptance of new ideas?
  • Why is it difficult to put a price on life?

Reflections on Product Development

  • What are the advantages of our vaccination plan? the disadvantages?
  • What led us to choose that particular approach?
  • Are there other things we should have considered?
  • Is it important to respect tradition and culture, even in issues of health and well-being?
  • How did the audience affect how we presented our plan?


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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 PDF, 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 The Malaria Mission 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!


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