Journal Club Overview

This journal club provides an opportunity to dive into the literature on problem solving and problem-based learning, particularly in the context of the geosciences and other STEM disciplines, and to discuss it in depth with interested colleagues.

Journal Club Goals

We will:

  • Explore strategies for introducing problem-solving in the classroom and share concrete examples
  • Develop greater understanding of the pitfalls students encounter in problem solving and explore strategies for overcoming these challenges
  • Think critically about the influence of different levels of scaffolding on students' success
  • Develop a common, shared vocabulary for thinking about and discussing problem solving and problem-based learning
  • Consider approaches to assessing problem-solving that includes an understanding of the role of metacognition in students' success

Potential Readings and Discussion Themes

Although specific readings and discussion themes for each month have not yet been selected, we are likely to read some of the following:

  • Problem Based Learning Scaffolding:
    • GE, X and Land, S. (2004) A Conceptual Framework for Scaffolding Ill-Structured Problem-Solving Processes Using Question Prompt and Peer Interactions. Educational Technology Research & Development. v52, n2.
    • Moelnaar, I. et al. (2010) The effects of scaffolding metacognitive activities in small groups. Computers in Human Behavior. v26
    • Reiser, B. (2004) Scaffolding Complex Learning: The Mechanisms of Structuring and Problematizing Student work. The Journal of the Learning Sciences v13, n3.
    • Kirschner, P. et al. (2006) Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching
  • Traditional problem-solving research (structured knowledge, metacognition etc.)
  • Introduction to the idea of adaptive expertise

Meeting Dates and Times

  • Dates: January 24, February 21, March 27, April 24, May 29
  • Times: 9am -10am Pacific | 10am -11am Mountain | 11am -12pm Central | 12pm -1pm Eastern


To facilitate a deep exploration of this topic, participants are expected to

  • Digest the readings and post questions, comments, or thoughts on a discussion board
  • Attend and contribute to all five discussion sessions

Application and Selection Criteria

Note: the application deadline has passed.

Applications are due November 30, 2011. The journal club will be limited to 12 participants. Participants will be selected with the goal of assembling a group with expertise in problem solving and problem-based learning in the geosciences and other STEM disciplines and geoscience education, as well as a spectrum of institutional settings and teaching experiences and a diversity of participants. Preference is given to applicants who hold faculty positions at colleges and universities. Applicants will be notified of selection in late December. For more information see our page on general information for Cutting Edge workshop participants.


We will post summaries of what we learn shortly after each meeting and will develop an annotated list of recommended readings on problem solving and problem-based learning in the geosciences.

For More Information

Please contact Ellen Iverson (eiverson AT