In problem-based learning (PBL), students work together in small groups to solve real-world, application-type problems related to the course material. PBL
enhances students’ problem-solving, reasoning, communication, and self-assessment skills. This student-centered, active learning pedagogy transforms the
instructor from disseminator of information to facilitator of information. In general, PBL is thought to focus more on depth versus breadth of course
- Facilitate a brainstorming session or two with the class about issues that are integral to the course. Another option is for the instructor to create a
list and then ask students for input and suggestions.
- The instructor then creates “ill-structured problems.” (Visit http://www.stanford.edu/dept/CTL/cgi-bin/docs/newsletter/problem_based_learning.pdf page 2, for specific recommendations for the development of ill-structured problems.)
- Students work in groups of three to eight to solve the problems (instructors can either present the problem to the students before any formal
instruction on the topic or can first deliver mini-lectures that provide a context for the problem.
- Students work with their group members on solving the problem both in and outside of class (one problem may take from two to six weeks to solve).
- After completing the problem solving phase, students may be asked to write a report and share it with the rest of the class.
Teaching Problem Solving
– Center for Teaching, Vanderbilt University: http://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/problem-solving/
This site provides tips for instructors to share with students engaging in problem-solving activities.
–Center for Teaching Excellence, Cornell University:
The what, why, and how of problem-based learning in an easy to read bulleted list format.
– Institute for Transforming Undergraduate Education, University of Delaware: http://www.udel.edu/inst/why-pbl.html
Provides a simple description of PBL, the benefits for student learning, and a guide for the role of the instructor.
– Speaking of Teaching, Center for Teaching & Learning, Stanford University:
This article discusses the research supporting the effectiveness of PBL on student learning and how to transform a course into one based on the PBL
Active Learning Web Resources on Problem-Based Learning
– Center for Teaching Excellence, University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey:
This website is a clearinghouse for hyperlinked resources about a multitude of topics regarding PBL instruction.
Making the Grade: The Role of Assessment in Authentic Learning
– Marilyn M. Lombardi, Educause Learning Initiative: https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI3019.pdf (see pages 10-11)
This paper provides a review of various authentic learning methods of instruction, including PBL.
Problem-Based Learning in Entry-Level Athletic Training Professional-Education Programs: A Model for Developing Critical Thinking and
by Kristinn I. Heinrichs: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC164424/
This scholarly article published in the Journal of Athletic Training suggests the implementation of PBL in entry level courses of athletic training
curricula. The article provides an overview of PBL, including its theoretical foundations, benefits, and an approach for implementation.
Related Evaluation and Assessment Resources
Posted by: Dina Battaglia
Original Posting Date: 10/27/14