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Problem-Based Learning (PBL) What it is, Principles, and Examples


Problem-Based Learning (PBL) What it is, Principles, and Examples David W. Mogk Dept. Earth Sciences Montana State University On the Cutting Edge Workshops – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Problem-Based Learning (PBL) What it is, Principles, and Examples

Problem-Based Learning (PBL)What it is,
Principles, and Examples
  • David W. Mogk
  • Dept. Earth Sciences
  • Montana State University
  • On the Cutting Edge Workshops
  • Teaching Structural Geology in the 21st Century
  • June, 2004

  • Sustains and inspires us as researchers
  • Is most effective for learning/understanding
  • Researchers create new knowledge
  • Learners achieve mastery of material previously
    unknown to them (re-discovery) on the way towards
    true discovery.
  • Both require
  • Creative thinking, seeing relations in a new
  • Application of first principles, basic knowledge
  • Work in a meaningful context
  • Building on work of predecessors
  • A common language for effective communication.

Integration of research and education
  • infuse the joy of discovery and an awareness
    of its connections to exploration through
    directed inquiry and careful observation, and
    analytic thinking for students at all levels.
  • NSF in a Changing World (1995)

Integrating Research and Education
  • (Re)Discovery Simulation
  • Modeling Replication
  • Real-time, archived, and authentic data
  • Critical review of the literature
  • Training on instrumentation, software, field
  • New creative contributions

Scientific Habits of the Mind
  • Reasoned use of evidence
  • Verifiable data, testing, proof, prediction
  • Curiosity, skepticism, open to new ideas
  • Integrity, fairness, ability to identify avoid
  • Computational and estimation skills
  • Ability to observe, measure, manipulate
  • Make connections, apply to new situations
  • Communicate!

What is PBL I?
In PBL groups are presented with contextual
situations and asked to define the problem,
decide what skills and resources are necessary to
investigate the problem, and then pose possible
solutions (Duch, Groh, and Allen, 2001)
  • What is PBL II
  • Student-centered faculty facilitated
  • Inquiry training methodology to teach students
  • clinical cases, either real or hypothetical
  • Going beyond content

Involvement Experience Understanding,
Ownership and Long-term Retention
  • What does PBL do?
  • PBL simultaneously develops problem solving
    strategies, disciplinary knowledge bases, and
  • How does PBL do it?
  • By placing students in the active role of
    problem solvers confronted with a (purposefully)
    ill-structured problem which mirrors real-world

Problem-based learning has as its organizing
center the ill-structured problem which...
  • is messy and complex in nature
  • requires inquiry, information-gathering, and
  • is changing and tentative
  • has no simple, fixed, formulaic, "right"

  • PBL Consists of Two Complementary Inter-related
  • Curriculum Design
  • Teachers design an ill-structured problem based
    on desired curriculum outcomes, learner
    characteristics, and compelling, problematic
    situations from the real world
  • Teachers develop a sketch or template of teaching
    and learning events in anticipation of students'
    learning needs
  • Teachers investigate the range of resources
    essential to the problem and arrange for their
  • Cognitive Coaching
  • Students actively define problems and construct
    potential solutions
  • Teachers model, coach, and fade in supporting and
    making explicit students' learning processes

(No Transcript)
Resources for Problem-Based Learning
University of Delaware
San Diego State University, The Learning
Tree http//
The Power of Problem-Based Learning, A Practical
"How To" For Teaching Undergraduate Courses in
Any Discipline, edited by Barbara Duch, Susan
Gron, and Deborah Allen, Stylus Publishing, LLC
(2001), 256 pages
  • Features of a PBL Problem
  • introduction,
  • content,
  • learning objectives,
  • resources,
  • expected outcome,
  • guiding questions,
  • assessment exercises,
  • and time frame (Bridges, 1992).
  • The students must be guided to reach both the
    objectives involved in solving the problem and
    the objectives related to the process.

  • Creating An Appropriate Problem
  • Choosing a relevant problem,
  • Ensuring that the problem's coverage includes
    both the big idea and basic skills, and
  • Ensuring the problem's complexity mimics
    real-life problems.

  • Design Considerations
  • How should PBL be incorporated into the
  • What problems should be used and how should they
    be presented?
  • What are the instructional goals?
  • How should small groups be formed?
  • How much should each problem be pre-structured?
  • How to evaluate the program and the students?
  • What resources should be available?
  • How to prepare students and faculty for PBL?
    (Bridges, 1992).

  • Guidelines for Problems
  • common situation to serve as a prototype for
    other situations,
  • significant,
  • prevention is possible,
  • interdisciplinary,
  • cover objectives,
  • task oriented,
  • and complex enough to incorporate prior knowledge
    (Albanese Mitchell, 1993).

Assessment of PBL
  • Assessment of problem based learning students
    and classes
  • Assessing student achievement
  • Written examinations
  • Practical examinations
  • Concept maps
  • Peer assessment
  • Self assessment
  • Facilitators/tutor assessment
  • Oral Presentations
  • Reports
  • Assessing the value of a problem based learning
  • Attitudes
  • Basic knowledge
  • Reasoning and problem solving skills
  • Team work

  • Barriers to PBL
  • PBL requires more time of students, expects to be
    responsible and independent learners
  • More time to cover same content (transfer of info
    via lecture is certainly more efficientbut does
    learning really occur?)
  • Requires technical and information support
  • Lack of incentives for faculty

  • Disadvantages of Problem Based Learning
  • As with all learning theories, there are
    advantages and limitations when creating or
    implementing problem based learning curriculum.
    These limitations revolve around six topics
  • the academic achievement of students involved in
    problem based learning,
  • the amount of time required for implementation,
  • the changing role of the student in the process,
  • the changing role of the teacher in the process,
  • generating appropriate problems, and
  • valid assessment of the program and student

How does PBL compare with other instructional
Problem-Based Learning causes a shift in roles...
  • Science is knowledge not of things, but of their

Science is built up of facts, as a house is built
up of stones, but an accumulation of facts is no
more science than a heap of stones is a house.
Henri Poincaré Science and
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