Cognitive engagement in the problem-based learning classroom
The objective of the present study was to examine to what extent autonomy in problem-based learning (PBL) results in cognitive engagement with the topic at hand. To that end, a short self-report instrument was devised and validated. Moreover, it was examined how cognitive engagement develops as a function of the learning process and the extent to which cognitive engagement determines subsequent levels of cognitive engagement during a one-day PBL event. Data were analyzed by means of confirmatory factor analysis, repeated measures ANOVA, and path analysis. The results showed that the new measure of situational cognitive engagement is valid and reliable. Furthermore, the results revealed that students' cognitive engagement significantly increased as a function of the learning event. Implications of these findings for PBL are discussed.