What is Problem-Based
The learning that results from
the process of working
towards the understanding of
a resolution of a problem.
What is Problem-Based Learning?
Barrows defines the Problem-Based Learning Model as:
Students are presented with a problem
Students discuss the problem in a small group PBL
Students engage in independent study on their
learning issues outside the tutorial.
They come back to the PBL tutorial (s) sharing
information, peer teaching and working together on
They present and discuss their solution to the problem
They review what they have learnt from working on
a pedagogical methodology by
which learning is initiated with a
Students assume a role in the problem
scenario and are led through a process
in which they:
a) Pose questions, “learning issues,”
identifying what they need to know in
order to address the problem
b) Rank the learning issues in terms of
importance and decide who will
investigate which issue
c) Identify needed resources and where
they might be found
e) Gather needed information through individual
and group investigation
f) Reconvene to integrate information
g) Generate and evaluate possible solutions
h) Make needed decisions or take agreed upon
i) Communicate results as appropriate for problem
j) Step out of role to debrief on problem solving
Problem-Based Learning (PBL)
is characterized by:
Meaningful Activity : PBL engages students in
problems that are designed to be realistic,
intriguing, and relevant to the field of study.
Meaningful problems thus serve as the context
and the stimulus for knowledge-building and
Situated Learning: PBL creates an environment
that permits students to work on the kinds of
problems that professionals encounter and to
use the perspectives, the knowledge, and the
skills that professionals use in attempting to
Open-ended generative tasks : PBL engages students
in an ill-structured, open-ended problem for which
there is no prescribed approach or solution. Students
become intentional learners as they generate their
own questions, plans, and goals.
Collaborative decision-making and problem-solving:
PBL encourages students to work together in their
problem solving and product development. Students
collaborate with each other and with more
knowledgeable individuals who model expert
behaviors and lend assistance as students try out
skills on their own.
Changed role of the instructor:
Instructors act as metacognitive
coaches throughout the PBL process.
They model and coach, giving
students guidance as needed, but
encouraging student independence in
goal setting and decision-making.
Why Use Problem-Based
• Acquiring subject matter knowledge
• Motivating students to learn
• Helping student retention
• Developing students thinking skills
• Developing students key skills relevant to employment e.g.
interpersonal communication skills, information seeking
skills and presentation skills
• Fostering professional competence and confidence together
with professional identity
• Mirroring the interdisciplinary team process graduates will
be using in work and research
Why Use Problem-Based Learning?
• Facilitating students learning how to learn
• Encouraging students to integrate knowledge from
different subjects, disciplines and sources
• Linking theory and practice
• Having a sense of belonging and friendship
• Having fun
• Expressing in operational form a philosophy of learning
that is student-centred and problem-focused
• Responding to research evidence on the benefits of PBL
• Increasing competitiveness in the higher education
• Producing graduates that can hit the floor running at
work after graduation
How Do We Use Problem-Based
Learning in Teacher Education?
to model PBL as an approach that we ask
our students to use in their teaching
MODEL > COACH > FADE
Cognitive apprenticeship (Collins,
Brown, & Newman, 1989) provides the
theoretical basis of our approach to using
PBL in methods classes.
A problem is something that is problematic to
the student; something that cannot be resolved with
the current level of knowledge and/or way of
thinking about the issues.
The role of the PBL tutor is not to teach or
give information but rather to facilitate students
reasoning through the problem
The goals of PBL are to help the students
develop flexible knowledge, effective problem
solving skills, self-directed learning, effective
collaboration skills and intrinsic motivation
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