T2 - The Malaria Mission
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Professional Information Center | Student Investigation Center | Communication Center
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Investigation/ Exploration
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Resolution/ Refinement
Knowledge and Skills
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The goals of Resolution/Refinement are to analyze options and arrive at an agreed-upon solution (action or decision), and then to communicate that solution to the appropriate audience in an authentic manner. The emphasis during this phase should be, first, on making a decision, and second, on designing and developing a product or performance that will best communicate the decision.

During this phase of PBL you lead your students to consider solution options that minimize the undesirable conditions and maximize the desirable outcome, as set in the problem statement. It will become clear that there is no one "right" solution, though some solutions may be better than others given the goals and constraints of the situation. It also will become clear that solutions reflect the values of those making the recommendations. A tolerance for ambiguity and multiple solutions is an important attribute to develop during this phase.

In The Malaria Mission PBL, you and your students loop through the Investigation and Resolution phases twice, once to investigate the African countries (Investigation) and decide which will serve as clinical trial sites (Resolution) and then again to investigate specific aspects of selected countries as well as malaria itself (Investigation) as part of developing a plan to reach the people and to gain their acceptance of the necessity for vaccination compliance (Resolution).


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Resolution A: Selection of African Countries for Clinical Trials

Before you and your students can work on your vaccination plan, you must decide which countries will serve as vaccination trial sites. Your students have gathered information on all candidate countries, entered the information into a database, and now the time has come to use that information as a basis for decision-making.

During the Engagement phase, early in the unit, you and your students discussed how to select the four countries, and at that time you drafted some criteria that then served as a guide for the data gathered on each candidate country during the Investigation phase. You and they can now look more critically at the criteria and the information gathered in order to determine the specific criteria that will determine country selection. Now comes the payoff for having your information in a database!

Task #9: Country Selection HTML



Skillful decision-making is needed during this phase of PBL, and the use of visual organizers can be helpful in this process. An especially useful graphic is the decision matrix, which assists users in weighing alternatives against selection criteria. The decision matrix is also effective to use later as part of the decision justification.

Value Clarification

Values can figure prominently into decision-making. A graphic that assists users in identifying the values impacting a decision, as well as their relative strengths, is the force field analysis PDF.

Tip: There are ethical considerations in the decisions that have to be made in The Malaria Mission. If your students have identified some of these issues and are trying to grapple with them, they will find the force field a helpful graphic.


Resolution B: The Vaccination Strategy

Now that your students know more about malaria and have more thoroughly investigated the complex issues involved in a vaccination effort, it is time to develop your plan and present it to the Project Director and his staff.

Task #10: Vaccination Plan HTML

Tip: This Task specifies the elements of the plan through another Pointer, a memo from the Project Director. Of course, if you would like to specify different elements, feel free to adjust the task and/or memo accordingly. These are only suggestions. Similarly, if you would prefer for your students to determine the parts of the presentation themselves, just eliminate the last section of the task.

Tip: If you had students investigate all four selected countries, you might want to limit their presentation to just one. It would be easy to alter the task slightly to accommodate this change.


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As students begin thinking about their final presentation in this Resolution phase, you can introduce them to (or remind them of) the GOSM strategy. This strategy, and other similar strategies, prompts the use of important considerations in effective presentations. Refer to the paper on Universal Design for Learning PDF for tips on how to scaffold the use of learning strategies with your students.



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Product Development

Along with decision-making, product development is the focus of Resolution/Refinement. In The Malaria Mission there are several products to develop and a number of product options. There will be maps of transportation routes, brochures that are primarily visual rather than verbal, cost-benefit analyses using spreadsheets, etc.

Then there will be the presentation itself, which should clearly outline each phase of the overall plan for the Director and Project Staff. The presentation could be an oral report with sample items, a PowerPoint presentation, a written report, etc. You can direct these products, if you like, by using a "Pointer" and/or a "Kicker." See the Memo from the Project Director PDF as an example of a "Pointer."

Keep in mind that product development and presentation offer good opportunities for multiple means of representation and expression, important principles of Universal Design for LearningPDF.


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Embedded Instruction

There will be numerous opportunities for “just in time” teaching during the Resolution phase. Students will need to develop skills in decision-making, effective communication, cost-benefit analysis, etc., and you will need to act as a "coach" to assist them.

Jigsaw PDF

Again, you may find the jigsaw useful as a teaming structure. A description of the jigsaw is in the Professional Information Center.

Inquiry PDF

Inquiry continues to be essential as you guide students through the process of product development and decision-making. You will find a brief paper on metacognitive inquiry referenced in the Professional Information Center.

Questions you might ask:

  • What do we have to consider in making our decision?
  • What is most important to consider?
  • Who is impacted by our decision?
  • What ethical issues are involved?
  • How will we justify our decision?
  • Who should be considered as we make our plan?
  • What is the goal of the plan?
  • How does our understanding of the interaction of systems help us in formulating our plan?
  • How will we justify our plan?
  • What is the goal of our presentation?
  • How can we most effectively present our recommendation?


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The Problem Log and Product/Performance Rubrics will continue to be used as assessments during the Resolution phase. You will want to develop additional product rubrics, but you may find our Presentation Rubric PDFespecially useful during this PBL phase. Students can access blank Problem Logs Word in the Student Investigation Center.


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Go to the Debriefing HTML phase to "step out" of the scenario and reflect on your PBL experience.


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Before proceeding, please take a moment to share your experiences HTML with us!


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