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Common Problem Project

The Common Problem Project (CP2) involves an innovative and exciting new pedagogy. CP2 is a form of applied or experiential learning that has elements of problem-solving, service learning, inquiry based learning, interdisciplinarity, teamwork, civic engagement, signature work, and other proven pedagogies.

The pedagogy integrates those learning practices in service to real-world problem, tied to a community partner that is of common interest to faculty and students from different disciplines.

The Basics

In the Common Problem Pedagogy, faculty from different disciplines, such as the sciences and the humanities, business and social science, work with community partners, to identify a real-world problem of interest to all. Following well-established techniques in active learning, faculty design relevant existing classes to include assignments that have students, working as an interdisciplinary team, to analyze or provide a solution to the problem. Faculty partners arrange to have their respective student teams meet to discuss their analyses and possible solutions to the problem. The goal is to have the teams develop a cross-disciplinary perspective that would hopefully add important dimensions to each of their efforts. The final assignment is for the teams to present their analysis or solution to the problem to the community partner for consideration.

Who is involved?

There are currently 5 SUNY campuses that are partnering in the CPP Project: SUNY Cortland, SUNY Oswego, SUNY Oneonta, SUNY Albany and of course SUNY Plattsburgh.

What is the expected outcome? 

The goal of the Common Problem Pedagogy is to help students become engaged and self-directed learners. Like problem-based learning, the common problem approach gives students the opportunity to learn content through analysis and application.

Since the practice involves students working in groups, an added benefit is the development of strong communication skills in cooperative learning – a fundamental of constructivist learning theory.

The pedagogy is meaningful to the students because the problems chosen are real and relevant—a powerful motivating force for learning. Additionally, in being engaged with students outside of their own discipline, they can often gain new insight into problems by employing different disciplinary concepts and frameworks.

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