The Principles and the Cycle of Problem-based Learning
Satu Öystilä & Matleena Laakso 2015
The Principles of Problem-based Learning
and the Phases of the PBL Cycle
Puh. +35850 564 4887
PBL as a strategy of
the pedagogical development process
• Collaborative learning
• New learning culture
• The change of the
PBL as an educational strategy
• PBL currculum is organized according to the subject
frame or a defined interdisciplinary
• The aims are:
– Learning in small groups (tutorials)
– Self-directed learning
– Critical thinking
– Life-long learning
– Self and peer assessment
– Inquiry-based learning
PBL as an educational strategy
• Student-centred learning environment
• Individual and collaborative learning processes in
the PBL curriculum
• Less contact teaching and more facilitation
Constructive Alignment in PBL Curriculum
– The substance and the aims
– Collaborative learning
methods and individual
– Both summative and
– Interpersonal skills
– The organizational culture
The aim and
The structure of the problem-based curriculum
How to implement problem-based curriculum?
1. Team, where all the expert groups are representative
2. Formulation of all the qualifications, which are
relevant in the work life (core qualifications)
3. Specification of the learning areas
4. Specification of the themes
5. Definition the contents and subjects of each theme
6. Designing the learning cycles
PBL is inquiry-based learning I
1. The learners are responsible for their own learning
and the group work - the ownership of the learning
2. Using problems (cases, scenarios, triggers) as
starting points for learning
PBL is inquiry-based learning II
3. Integrating different knowledge areas and themes
4. Collaboration is essential part of learning and
5. Shared knowledge construction and independent
knowledge acquisition are chronologically separated
PBL is inquiry-based learning III
6. Shared knowledge construction produces shared
understanding and meaning negotiation
7. The self and peer assessment are included in the
PBL is inquiry-based learning IV
9.PBL curriculum improves interpersonal skills and
work life competencies of learners
10. PBL is a strategy, not only a learning method
Problem solving process
PBL learning task
PBL cycle: the tutorials
• 6-10 students and the PBL tutor (facilitator)
• Working time 2 hours
• The PBL tutorial is not the same as PBL but the
small group study phase of the PBL curriculum
• Two tutorials: The PBL object in the first tutorial
and the synthesis in the second
• The indvidual learning phase and the data
acquistion between the tutorials
The roles in the PBL tutorial
The grouping and the ground rules for the tutorial
The discussion leader
• leading the discuss
• taking care of the the timetable
• writing up ideas/synthesis
• observing members of the tutorial and giving them
PBL-tutorial, 1. phase: PBL starting point
• To become familiar with the starting point/case
• Different ways to present the starting point: a case,
a story, a cartoon, a drama, etc.
• The starting point is a surprise
• The starting point is not a question
Different types of starting points
• scenario: gives the perspcetive to the future
• case: a concrete case of the real life
• trigger: for example a picture
• problem: leading the collaborative problem solving
• impulse, stimulus: a starting point to the brain
PBL tutorial, 2. phase: Brainstorming
• Producing new ideas
• Connecting the knowledge achieved earlier
• Innovative connections
• No critisism
• No long explanations
• No analysing
PBL tutorial, 3. phase: Choosing the ideas
Everyone has 5 points in order to choose
the best ideas.
PBL tutorial, 4. phase: Defining the learning object
Picking up the ideas which have most points and
defining the learning object together
PBL tutorial, 5. phase:
Defining the shared PBL learning task
Just one and shared PBL task:
• What should we learn?
• What do we know already?
• What we do not know?
• What is most important?
• What is most interesting?
• How do we acquise the new knowledge?
• Which are the best references?
• How much time do we have?
Assessment and feedback in PBL tutorials
The learning process, the problem solving and the
• What are we observing?
• The observer gives the feedback individually to each
member of the group and to the tutor
• ”Just nice” or ”okay” is not feedback
• The feedback is not the truth
• Everyone listens the feedback without interrupting
• After the round everyone has the possibility to
comment the feedback
PBL-tutorial, 6. phase: Self-study
Each member of the tutorial group writes an
individual PBL learning task and sends it to all other
members and the tutor before the deadline.
Each member and the tutor reads all the tasks before
the next tutorial.
Preparing to the tutorial is essential.
The PBL tutorial, 6. phase: Self study
Reading the books,
Writing an essay
Learning at work
Media, Social media
PBL tutorial, 7. phase: Knowledge sharing
• New roles
• The short starting round (star ideas,
• Dialogic reflections
• It is important that everyone has orientated
and learned the task
• The recorder writes up the core points
PBL tutorial, 8. phase: the visual synthesis
• Modelling shared learning
• Problem solving and learning process becomes
• The summary and the comparison with the starting
• Visualising gives the shared symbol to the common
• It is also possible to make a theoretised modell
The observer´s feedback and self assessment
• How did you give new perspectives to the group
• How did you continue the others´ ideas?
• Did you present innovative ideas?
• How did you question?
• How did you support others?
• How did you learn from others?
The final review
• Did you deal with the right issues?
• How did you find the atmosphere of the tutorial?
• Did you say what you wanted to?
• Have you been heard?
CC BY-SA (these slides): creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0
You can also contact us to get more rights
• Satu Öystilä: www.eduta.fi
• Matleena Laakso: www.matleenalaakso.fi
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-
ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0)