What is PBL?

Purpose of this Site

What is PBL?

Why PBL?


PBL in the classroom

Group Dynamics

Individual Roles

Role of instructor

How to do PBL

Example Problems


Schools using PBL

PBL at Stanford

PBL Organizations

Ways to learn PBL

Overview and Characteristics

Problem based learning has several distinct characteristics which may be identified and utilized in designing such curriculum. These are:

  1. Use of real world problems - problems are relevant and contextual. It is in the process of struggling with actual problems that students learn content and critical thinking skills.
  2. Reliance on problems to drive the curriculum - the problems do not test skills; they assist in development of the skills themselves.
  3. The problems are truly ill-structured - there is not meant to be one solution, and as new information is gathered in a reiterative process, perception of the problem, and thus the solution, changes.

(Adapted from Stepien, W.J. and Gallagher, S.A. 1993. "Problem-based Learning: As Authentic as it Gets." Educational Leadership. 50(7) 25-8 and Barrows, H. (1985) How to Design a Problem Based Curriculum for the Pre-Clinical Years.)

  1. PBL is learner-centered - learners are progressively given more responsibility for their education and become increasingly independent of the teacher for their education.
  2. PBL produces independent, life-long learners - students continue to learn on their own in life and in their careers.

From Schools of California Online Resources for Education and Problem Based Learning Initiative at Southern Illinois Institute

The next page will describe one common version of PBL, Problem Stimulated PBL.

next -->>