Practice-Based Learning (PBL) Across Campus
UM-Dearborn has a strong record of enhancing the social mobility of its graduates. The institution serves an ethnically and racially diverse region that relies on an economy that remains closely tied to manufacturing. Critical to the health of the region is the development of workforce skills that support an ongoing transition from a manufacturing economy to a more diverse knowledge and skill-based one, supported and driven by technological innovation.
A critical responsibility of UM-Dearborn is to prepare students for what comes next - whether it be employment, entrepreneurship, or graduate or professional school. Thus, a primary goal for student learning is knowledge and skill development. In addition, because learning is occurring on a commuter campus with a substantial number of non-traditional, first generation, and international students, the development of a sense of belonging and connectedness on campus is core to student success and retention. The institution is employing Practice-Based Learning (PBL) to prepare students for the workforce with the secondary benefit of facilitating a sense of connection, through engagement with faculty, classmates, and the community in active coursework with shared goals.
PBL encompasses curricular and co-curricular experiences that require students to apply, analyze, evaluate, or create knowledge often in collaboration with others and across disciplinary boundaries. The aim of PBL is to promote a deeper understanding of core concepts through their application, and to provide students with the opportunity to assess and learn from natural consequences, mistakes, and successes. PBL coursework is built upon student centered projects often associated with complex, authentic problems.
Overarching PBL learning goals include:
1) flexible thinking to enhance creativity, adaptability, and effective collaboration across a variety of skills sets, perspectives, and backgrounds;
2) the formation of professional skills and pathways (e.g., linking academic learning with student career goals; integrating coursework with career exploration and paths); and
3) deepening connections (e.g., a sense of belonging; networks to enhance access to resources and professional relationships).
More specific PBL learning objectives are as follows:
- Acquire, synthesize and apply basic knowledge
- Develop critical thinking and problem solving skills
- Contextualize and communicate knowledge to others
- Engage in effective teamwork and collaboration
- Begin to actively engage in career management
- Build professionalism and a strong work ethic
- Develop global and intercultural fluency
- Effectively use digital and information technology
- Identify effective resources for knowledge acquisition and problem solving
- Engage in honest self-assessment