Problem Based Learning

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What is PBL

Problem based learning is any learning environment in which the problem that is asked is what drives the learning. In other words, to answer the problem that is given to you, you will need to look things up and learn some things before being able to answer the question correctly. The problem is given so that the students discover that they need to learn some new knowledge before they can solve the problem. The first use of PBL was in medical schools, which test the knowledge base of graduates. PBL uses real world problems, not hypothetical cases where the answers are neat and convergent. The struggling with the actual problem is what makes the students learn. Through this struggling they learn both content and critical thinking skills.

Problem based learning has several distinct characteristics, which may be identified and utilized in designing a curriculum. One of these distinctions is the reliance on problems to drive the curriculum. The problems do not test skills; they only assist in development of the skills themselves. The problems are not normal problems; the answers will not be able to be solved until the students themselves do more work. The second distinction is that the problems should not mean to have only one solution, and as new information is gathered, perception of the problem and thus the solution changes. The third distinction, a very important distinction is that the students solve the problems. The teachers are merely coaches and facilitators. The fourth distinction, closely related to the third is that the students are only given guidelines to solving the problem. There is no such thing as a formula or direct way to solve the problem. The fifth and last distinction is the assessment. It is an authentic and performance based assessment and it is a seamless part and the end of the instruction.

There are five main stages for instructing with problem based learning and there are four main stages for a student...
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