Path Analysis: The Predictive Relationships of Problem-based Learning Processes on Preservice Teachers’ Learning Strategies

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Bee Leng Chua


Path Analysis is used to provide estimates of the magnitude and significance of hypothesized causal connections among sets of variables displayed using path diagrams. It is an extension of multiple regression analysis and holds strength as a methodology as it allows researchers to assess both direct and indirect effects of multiple independent variables on one or more dependent variables. In this paper, Path Analysis is used to examine the predictive relations of preservice teachers’ perception of key Problem-based Learning (PBL) processes and their learning strategies before and after their PBL experience. The sample involved in this study comprised of 1041 preservice teachers in the core Educational Psychology course using the PBL approach at a Teacher Education Institute in Singapore. The participants consisted of 333 males, 662 females, and 46 preservice teachers who did not indicate their gender. The mean age was 25.6 (SD = 5.41). The Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) by Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, and Mckeachie (1993) was used to measure preservice teachers’ learning strategies. It consisted of five subscales namely, rehearsal, elaboration, organization, critical thinking and metacognitive self-regulation. The Problem-based Learning Process Inventory (PBLPI) by Chua (2016) was used to measure the key PBL processes namely problem-posing, scaffolding and connecting. Findings from the study suggested that in the PBL environment, (i) preservice teachers’ pre-PBL metacognitive self-regulation played a pivotal role in determining preservice teachers’ perceived importance of the key processes in enhancing their PBL experience; (ii) the key PBL scaffolding and connecting processes were salient predictors of preservice teachers’ subsequent post-PBL learning strategies; and (iii) the key PBL processes played a mediating role in relating preservice teachers’ pre-PBL learning strategies to their corresponding post-PBL factors. Implications for using path analysis for Problem-based Learning research will be discussed.

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Special Issue: Research Methodologies for studying PBL