What is It?
Problem Based Learning (PBL), is a student-centered instructional strategy pioneered by McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, in which students collaboratively solve problems and reflect on their experiences.
Characteristics of PBL are:
Learning is driven by challenging, open-ended problems. Students work in small collaborative groups. Teachers take on the role as "facilitators" of learning.
Students are encouraged to take the responsibility for their group by organizing and directing their learning process with support from their instructor.
Educators claim PBL enhances students content knowledge and fosters the development of communication, problem-solving, and self-directed learning skills.
Since Problem-based learning's inception at McMaster University Medical School over 25 years ago, it has been implemented in various undergraduate and graduate programs around the world. Additionally, numerous elementary and secondary schools have adopted PBL. History of PBL
Problem Based Learning Process
Change of Roles
In problem-based learning, the traditional roles of teacher and student change.
The students assume increasing responsibility for their learning, giving them more motivation and more feelings of accomplishment, setting the pattern for them to become successful life-long learners.
The teacher becomes an evaluator, a supporter, and a resource as they guide the students in their problem solving efforts.
Why Use Problem-Based Learning?Theorists in favor of utilizing PBL claim that learning occurs only within the context of activity and is securely tied to the situation in which it occurs. PBL is a better representation of the way learning occurs in the world outside the classroom. Thereby enabling the student to be better prepared for what the world may have in store for them.
Benefits of Using PBLIt is engaging therefore it is motivating.Cognitive components and motivational components become intertwined.
Projects teach students to be mastery-oriented, notability oriented, and responsible.
Students become learning-oriented rather than performance oriented.
Students are task-involved when in the role of instructor.
Project-based methods motivate students more than any other teaching method.
What are educators using PBL discovering?The literature on information transfer suggests that transferable learning experiences occur inan environment characterized by: Meaningful activities Expert guidance Knowledge-building collaborationPBL increases the likelihood of successful transfer of information, a primary consideration of teachers.
Intentional learning Relational understanding Critical thinking Creative thinking Effective collaboration Versatile communicationTo promote desirable student outcomes:Why do educators continue to use PBL?
Strengths and WeaknessesIts different!Student drivenProblems prompt, rather than follow skill developmentIts hard!Giving up controlDeveloping a good problemConsistent use of guided inquiryIts time-consuming!PlanningImplementingIts wonderful! High engagement Self-directed learning
Students involved in PBL acquire knowledge and become proficient in problem solving, self-directed learning, and team participation.
Studies show that PBL students do as well as their counterparts from traditional classrooms on national exams, but are in fact better practitioners of their professions.
Results From Implementing PBL
Problem Based Learning
Student DrivenA Quest For KnowledgeExplorationSolutions, Not AnswersQuestioningBuilds ConfidenceReflectionCritical Thinking Skills
Reference List Anderson, J. R., Reder, L. M., & Simon, H. A. (1996). Situated learning and education. Educational Researcher, 25(4), 5-11.Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (1989). Intentional learning as a goal of instruction. In L.B. Resnick (Ed.), Knowing, learning, and instruction: Essays in honor of Robert Glaser (pp. 361-392). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Berliner, D. C. (1992). Redesigning classroom activities for the future. Educational Technology, 32(5), 7-13.Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32-42. Niedelman, M. (1991). Problem solving and transfer. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 24(6), 322-329.Skemp, R. R. (1978). Relational understanding and instrumental understanding. Arithmetic Teacher, 26(3), 9-15.
***Why use problem-based learning?It represents authentic learning. Most real life problems as opposed to classroom problems are ill-structured, poorly defined. Solving them is a difficult and complex task. PBL gives students experience and a methodology for engaging in such problems.
*Why use problem-based learning?It is motivating. Berliner quote*Why use problem-based learning?Transfer literature suggests that the salient qualities of transferable learning experiences occur in an environment that is characterized by meaningful activity, masterful guidance, and knowledge-building collaboration (Howard, 2002).Meaningful activity. If students perceive a situation as relevant to their lives, they are much more likely to put in the time and effort necessary to develop the rich knowledge base leading to deep understanding, a necessary ingredient for transfer. Expert guidance. Master teachers act as cognitive coaches, fostering the type of thinking that is essential for deep understanding and subsequent transfer. Without the guidance of a master teacher, students cannot be counted upon to make generalizations automatically, even in a rich, authentic context. Knowledge-building collaboration. As students and teachers work together, they learn from each other and knowledge builds as they synthesize information. This kind of endeavor involves metacognition, or the ability to monitor ones own thinking, evaluate progress, and adjust next steps accordingly. These skills, too, can be decontextualized and applied to other situations.*Why use problem-based learning?It promotes desirable student outcomes.
Intentional learning (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1989) refers to the purposeful construction of knowledge. Goal-setting is an important component as the learner establishes a personal agenda for acquiring knowledge and understanding information. Relational understanding (Skemp, 1978) may be defined as knowing both what to do and why. It stands in contrast to instrumental understanding, which is described as rules without reason. Also see Niedelman (1991). *How do we feel about using PBL in teacher education?Its different, hard, time-consuming, and wonderful*Note: What is a good problem?One that: is embedded in significant content of the discipline(s) is complex and open-ended involves conceptual reasoning necessitates critical thinking encourages collaborative research provides one or more strong stakeholders*