Problem-Based Learning - PBL
Problem based learning (PBL) encourages students to find solutions to real world problems. PBL is an approach that enables the adult student to activate prior knowledge while also acquiring analytical skills. Students are presented with an ill-structured problem that reflects a real life situation, which is unlikely to have a unique or tidy solution. Students are given guidelines as to how to solve the problem and usually asked to work in groups.
PBL is used in medical education to develop diagnostic skills. From a patient's case history a student is required to determine the patient's condition and research how it might be treated. Such PBL can be adapted and transferred to almost every learning context.
How does it work?
The tutor presents a problem that is meaningful and relevant to the student group. The students then work on determining what facts they know, what additional information is required and how the problem might be solved.
PBL engages students in learning. They are actively involved in the critical analysis of a problem and following up with the necessary research. Factual knowledge is acquired, research skills are developed and students become self-directed learners. Such skills can then be transferred to other contexts and students are motivated by seeing the relevance and applicability of what they have learned.