Problem-Based Learning

Topics: Educational psychology, Problem solving, Knowledge Pages: 6 (2124 words) Published: July 11, 2013
Problem-based learning (PBL) is a student-centered pedagogy in which students learn about a subject through the experience of problem solving. Students learn both thinking strategies and domain knowledge. The PBL format originated from the medical school of thought, and is now used in other schools of thought too. 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. Problem-based learning is a style of active. Working in groups, students identify what they already know, what they need to know, and how and where to access new information that may lead to resolution of the problem. The role of the instructor (known as the tutor in PBL) is to facilitate learning by supporting, guiding, and monitoring the learning process. The tutor must build students' confidence to take on the problem, and encourage the students, while also stretching their understanding. PBL represents a paradigm shift from traditional teaching and learning philosophy, which is more often lecture-based. The constructs for teaching PBL are very different from traditional classroom/lecture teaching.

One of the primary features of Problem-Based Learning is that it is student-centered. “Student-centered” refers to learning opportunities that are relevant to the students, the goals of which are at least partly determined by the students themselves. This does not mean that the teacher abdicates her authority for making judgments regarding what might be important for students to learn; rather, this feature places partial and explicit responsibility on the students’ shoulders for their own learning. Creating assignments and activities that require student input presumably also increases the likelihood of students being motivated to learn.

Barrows defines the Problem-Based Learning Model as:[4]
1. Student Centered Learning
2. Learning is done in Small Student Groups, ideally 6-10 people 3. Facilitators or Tutors guide the students rather than teach 4. A Problem forms the basis for the organized focus of the group, and stimulates learning 5. The problem is a vehicle for the development of problem solving skills. It stimulates the cognitive process. 6. New knowledge is obtained through Self-Directed Learning (SDL)

Problem Based Learning addresses the need to promote lifelong learning through the process of inquiry and constructivist learning. PBL can be considered a constructivist approach to instruction, emphasizing collaborative and self-directed learning and being supported by flexible teacher scaffolding. Yew and Schmidt, Schmidt, and Hung elaborate on the cognitive constructivist process of PBL: 1. Learners are presented with a problem and through discussion within their group, activate their prior knowledge. 2. Within their group, they develop possible theories or hypotheses to explain the problem. Together they identify learning issues to be researched. They construct a shared primary model to explain the problem at hand. Facilitators provide scaffold, which is a frame work on which students can construct knowledge relating to the problem. 3. After the initial team work, students work independently in self directed study to research the identified issues. 4. The students re-group to discuss their findings and refine their initial explanations based on what they learned. PBL follows a constructivist perspective in learning as the role of the instructor is to guide and challenge the learning process rather than strictly providing knowledge. From this perspective, feedback and reflection on the learning process and group dynamics are essential components of PBL. Students are considered to be active agents who engage in social knowledge construction. PBL assists in processes of creating meaning and building personal interpretations of the world based on experiences and interactions. PBL assists to guide the...
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