Parramatta Marist recently introduced Year 10 students to 151 – the extension of the Problem Based Learning (PBL) model into the senior curriculum.

Unlike PBL, the 151 model gives students an introductory period (1), whole day (5 periods) and a follow up period (1) per subject over a two week cycle.   This allows teachers to work intensively with senior students on real-world problems.

As part of their introduction to the PDHPE module, the students were asked to do a test of 12 multiple choice questions based on the information they were going to learn for the day.  The average was 58%.

During the follow up period, the class was asked to complete the same test – the average was 75%.

While the increase in the test average is important, I think the feedback from students (see below) is key in predicting 151’s success:

In my honest opinion, today’s five periods of PDHPE were the most enjoyable I have ever experienced, I had the opportunity to work with classmates that I do not usually work with. I found the case study method of working, one of the most effective methods of educating young people.

Innovations in the secondary school often falter around the post compulsory years due to the prescriptive nature of the syllabus and HSC examinations.  In recognising the obvious limitations, staff at Parramatta Marist have worked collaboratively and creatively to address this curriculum construct and improve the learning outcomes of students.

Teachers talking about new ways of learning teaching always beats the alternative.


2 thoughts on “151

  1. Sounds interesting. I have tried to arrange to visit Parramatta Marist a couple of times this year but it has been hard to get calls returned.

    I’m not quite sure what to make of this post. Surely any student who spends 5 lessons studying something will improve on their initial performance. What am I missing?

  2. Hi Cameron, I am a teacher at Parramatta Marist.

    You are correct in saying that after studying something for five hours a learning gain should be achieved. However, the second quiz is administered during the final session which is normally a couple of days after the FIVE intensive periods. Our aim is to look at learning gains (Obviously!) and the retention of that knowledge. Probably, a measure that should be put into practice is the students undertaking the same exam in THREE weeks time. The results would definitely show if the knowledge has been retained at a greater level.

    Also, there are couple of things that I can help clarify for you. Firstly, one of the biggest drawbacks of any educational reform involves educating both students and teachers that the same outcomes can be achieved via the new method (If not better). Especially, in a problem based educational pedagogy which is very student centered often students may feel frustrated at not being given direct answers and may often comment that “they are not learning’. The quiz simply reinforces to the students that they have made a learning gain.

    Secondly, as Greg stated the feedback from the student is more important as many stakeholders have reservations in changing educational instruction especially in stage 6. The recent dissatisfaction with the Studies of Religion exam has shown that we need to better prepare our students in the process of problem solving.

    The 151 structure focuses on Problem based learning as means of creating curiosity around the curriculum. Students drive their learning concerning their knows and need to knows from the problem statement. The five hours is where deep learning and deep understanding takes place. A strong focus is placed on the teacher to drive this through effective questioning and providing students with feedback to assist them in solving the problem.

    In regards to visiting Parramatta Marist I am more than happy to assist with this or even to discuss in further details about the 151 approach.

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