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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Improving process-skills of STEM undergraduate students in Indonesia through Problem-Based Learning (PBL): faculty member development, student assessment, and curriculum adjustment

PI: Kamarza Mulia (Universitas Indonesia)
U.S. Partner: Lisa Hunter (University of California, Santa Cruz)
Project Dates: August 2013 to July 2016

Indonesia Partnership Picture A
Participants in the two-day problem-based learning workshop at Universitas Andalas (Photo courtesy Dr. Mulia).

This project involves the assessment of problem-based learning (PBL) effectiveness in improving the process skills of chemical engineering students at Universitas Indonesia (ChE UI) while satisfying curriculum requirements. Improvement of process skills such as problem solving, working in groups, lifetime learning, and critical thinking will be assessed using a variety of instruments. Since the study will involve a large number of students and will last for three years, it will be possible carry out longitudinal assessment studies of PBL effectiveness in improving students’ process skills. Documented evidence of a successful PBL implementation in a chemical engineering department will contribute to improving scholarship in teaching and encourage more STEM departments to adopt PBL into their programs. The lessons learned in this project will be disseminated through international seminars and peer-reviewed journals.

The main objective of the proposed project is the paradigm shift of STEM faculty members, from teacher-centered to student-centered learning (SCL), PBL in particular. Early in the project, invitations will be sent to faculty members of selected campuses throughout Indonesia to attend an introductory workshop on SCL and PBL at UI’s Depok campus. In these workshops, participants will discuss the SCL paradigm in teaching and learning, process skills required for a successful PBL implementation, and ways of converting a lecture-based course into the PBL format. Participants with strong motivation to implement PBL will be invited to attend a facilitator workshop consisting of more practical topics such as how to conduct mini process skill workshops for students and PBL problems or case studies. Potential faculty members will receive teaching grants and continuing support from the project leaders, and if necessary, a visit to their institutions. Resources such as a PBL book to be authored by the project leaders in the Indonesian language, a database of problems and case studies, and a website written in both the Indonesian and English languages will be made available to assist project participants in implementing PBL. Early in the project, several mini process skill workshops will be integrated into the nine PBL-based courses available in the chemical engineering curriculum at UI so that students could continuously improve their process skills as they progress through the curriculum.
By the end of the project, it will have impacted 200 targeted workshop participants and will have produced 25 new PBL facilitators. The outcomes of the project are expected to contribute directly to the stated USAID Indonesia’s higher education objectives, specifically to improving instructional delivery through better teaching methods and more relevant curricula in STEM fields.
Summary of Recent Activities
From the start of the PEER project through the end of December 2013, the project team held four two-day Problem-Based Learning (PBL) workshops in various locations in Indonesia. Invitations were sent to more than 300 institutions of higher learning. For each workshop, the first day covered the basics of PBL to give participants an overview of the method. On the second day, participants were asked to modify a problem or an assignment into a PBL problem. In these workshops, the participants (some 140 faculty members in total) discussed student-centered learning, process skills needed to implement PBL, and how to change a lecture-based course into one based on PBL. Three more PBL workshops were scheduled for the first six weeks of 2014. Training resources are being refined through feedback and assessment forms. The project’s website <> is being revised and expanded as additional programs and problems are uploaded.
The next steps of the project include holding workshops in cooperation with associations of higher education institutions from each respective STEM field. The project will also involve awarding 10 teaching grants in the amount of US$ 400 each. The grants are designed to help facilitate the implementation of PBL at grantees’ institutions. Grant-winners will also receive continuing support from the PI and co-PI and, if necessary, a visit to their institutions. In addition, a classroom specially designed for PBL sessions is being designed by the project team in consultation with the vice dean of engineering of the Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Indonesia.
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