What is the role of the instructor in PBL?
All of the literature reviewed in the creation of this site is unanimous about one aspect of PBL: the role of the instructor.
In PBL, the instructor serves as a resource to the student teams. The instructor is frequently acts as a mentor or tutor to the group. The instructor reliquenshes the role of the dispenser of information.
The instructor is most active in planning the PBL the content and sequence of projects, providing immediate feedback on student work and discussion, and evaluating students.
In the classroom, teachers should act as metacognitive coaches, serving as models, thinking aloud with students and practicing behavior they want their students to use (Stepien and Gallagher, 1993).
Teachers coax and prompt students to use questions such as "What is going on here? What do we need to know more about? What did we do during the problem that was effective?" and take on responsibility for the problem. Over a period of time, students become self-directed learners, teachers then fade (Stepien and Gallagher, 1993).
Research suggests that students benefit from immediate feedback from instructors so that misconceptions can be cleared promptly (Norman and Schmidt, 1992). It is the job of the instructor to be aware of the progress and conversations within the groups so that students continue on fruitful paths.
The next page describes some changes that the instructor must address in the implementation of PBL.