Problem based learning
has several distinct characteristics which may be identified and utilized
in designing such curriculum. These are:
- 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.
- Reliance on problems
to drive the curriculum - the problems do not test skills; they assist
in development of the skills themselves.
- 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.
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
- PBL is learner-centered - learners
are progressively given more responsibility for their education and
become increasingly independent of the teacher for their education.
- PBL produces
independent, life-long learners - students continue to learn on their
own in life and in their careers.
of California Online Resources for Education and
Learning Initiative at Southern Illinois Institute
The next page will
describe one common version of PBL, Problem Stimulated PBL.