Interaction provides numerous benefits for the development of communicative competence in a foreign language. Therefore, promoting students to work in groups during class is one way to promote interaction, and accordingly foreign language development. Framing classes from a PBL perspective provides the additional benefits of 1) engaging students in the class, 2) promoting students to be responsible for their own learning, 3) providing concrete aims that span multiple, successive classes.
Cooperative board games were used as the core teaching materials for this implementation of PBL.
At the start of the course, a list of board games was provided to students. In groups, they researched various aspects of the games (theme, mechanics, number of players, difficulty, etc.) with the aim of finding a game that they would personally like to play. Upon choosing which game they wanted to play individually, students made groups with others interested in playing the same game. Thus, a number of small groups were created based on students’ game preferences.
Following, I provide the general framework for how students worked on the “problem” of playing a board game with others in English.
Before playing the game, students need to learn the rules of the game. Additionally, they need to equip themselves with appropriate vocabulary and grammar in order to successfully play the game in English. Due to time limitations in class, the pre-play phase of this approach to PBL is divided into extracurricular (homework) and classroom-based activities. Note that by putting students in charge of learning rules for themselves, it is possible to promote them to be responsible for their own learning.
Extracurricular pre-play activities
1. Learn the rules to the game.
2. Make comprehension questions regarding game rules
Classroom-based pre-play activities
1. Check rules with other students using comprehension questions
2. Scan rulebook for useful vocabulary
Upon completing these activities, students are in a position to play the game. Gameplay typically lasts 45 minutes during class time, during which students are asked to keep a record of any new vocabulary they hear, as well as any phrases that they would like to have said but did not have the language skills to produce.
The play session is recorded and students transcribe this recording for homework by delegating certain sections of the recording to each member (such as by dividing the audio into 5-minute segments). The transcriptions are then analysed in future classes to look for 1) English mistakes and 2) unnecessary Japanese usage.
The main post-play activity is for students to create a report of the gameplay session. They are told that their reports will be made available to future students to help them make decisions regarding which game to play, and they language they will need to play it. There are five different kinds of report that students can complete:
1.Create a gameplay video
2.Create a rules introduction video
3.Write a game review
4.Create a transcription of gameplay discourse
5.Teach other students in the class how to play the game.
Weekly class participation 50%
Final project 50%
In order to make learning gains visible, students go through a process of transcribing their play sessions and analyzing their utterances for mistakes and Japanese usage, thus improving their interlanguage and equipping themselves with additional vocabulary and grammar for a second play session. They are also advised to consider what phrases and grammatical constructs are important for playing the game, and to create example sentences for use in the second play session. Upon completing the second gameplay session, they repeat the process of transcription and analysis. Now, with two transcriptions available to them, students are able to compare their linguistic performance during gameplay.
Additionally, they have completed a cycle of being a learner of the game, to a player of the game and finally to a stage of master of the game. At this stage, they create content for other students, thus, they are able to see their progression from learner to master.
Students at TDU are not familiar with a PBL approach to learning, and thus preparing them to work in this manner can be difficult.
The framework is comprised of six parts. Each part is one 90-minute class.
1.Learn the rules
3.Analyse a transcription of gameplay discourse
5.Analyse gameplay discourse and compare with previous play session
6.Complete a final project reflecting on the experience
東京電機大学教育改善推進室では、平成23年度から「学生が主体となって学ぶ」形式を取り入れた、いわゆる「PBL（Problem-Based Learning又はProject-Based Learning）」による教育の開発・運営を「PBL教育支援プログラム」として支援し推進しています。