Module 3 Problem Based Learning

Duration: 1 hour
Structure: Self guided learning delivered video tutorials and presentations, extra reading and discussions.

What is Problem Based Learning?

Problem Based Learning is an active student-centered pedagogy in which students learn about a subject through the experience of solving an open-ended problem found in trigger material. The PBL process does not focus on problem solving with a defined solution, but it allows for the development of other desirable skills and attributes. This includes knowledge acquisition, enhanced group collaboration and communication. The PBL process was developed for medical education and has since been broadened in applications for other programs of learning. The process allows for learners to develop skills used for their future practice. It enhances critical appraisal, literature retrieval and encourages ongoing learning in a team environment.

Why Active Learning? Research has shown that knowledge retention can be significantly increased incorporating active learning strategies into your teaching.

What the experts say:

“The strongest general conclusion [is that] the greater the student’s involvement or engagement in academic work, the greater his or her level of knowledge acquisition.”                       – Pasquerilla & Terenzini, 1991

“Problem-based learning develops positive student attitudes, interpersonal skills, problem solving and lifelong learning skills, knowledge retention
Interactive engagement methods leads to improved test performance.
Collaborative learning methods enhance/improve academic achievement, student attitudes, and retention.
Cooperative learning methods enhance student achievement, interpersonal skills, self-esteem. “
Prince, 2004

Why take this Module?

  • Explore the pedagogical approach to problem based learning and how it differs from traditional teaching
  • Learn about the benefits of problem based learning
  • Find out about universities and schools which have embraced this model
  • Gain insight into the students perspective of problem based learning and the impact it has
  • Understand the problem based learning process and how you can start using it

How do you take this Module?

Easy – start by watching the video tutorial, then use the links provided to further your knowledge and understanding of problem based learning.

How does it work?

PBL prepares students to think critically and analytically, and to find and use appropriate learning resources. Students learn best when outcomes are clear and integrated into relevant context. They need practical – not hypothetical learning experiences.

In PBL, learners are engaged by problems which are:

  • Open ended
  • Meaningful
  • Related to curriculum

PBL recognizes that life experiences impact the way people learn

PBL develops transferable life skills


Steps to Designing PBL Activities

  1. Identify an Applicable Real-Life Problem: ​Find a tangible problem that’s relevant to your students, allowing them to easily contextualize it and apply it to future challenges.
  2. Determine the Activity’s Purpose: ​Identify which skills you want to help students build by running the activity, helping you complete the subsequent activity design steps.
  3. Create and Distribute Helpful Material: ​Provide handouts and other content, such as datasets and news articles, to help students stay focused on the activity’s purpose.
  4. Set Goals and Expectations for Your Students: ​Give students a guide that defines goals and expectations, keeping them on track.
  5. Participate: ​Fill knowledge gaps and ask questions to dig into students’ thought processes, helping them think through tough spots.
  6. Have Students Present Ideas and Findings: ​Asking students to present their thoughts and results to the class adds a large-group learning component to the lesson.

Problem Based Learning and today’s students

  • Independent, problem solvers
  • Ambitious, self-starters
  • Want support but do not want to be told what to do or how to do it
  • Expect instant gratification, immediate feedback
  • Know they must keep learning to be marketable
  • Self-confident, entitled
  • Ambitious with high expectations
  • Want to know process, rules, how to get ahead
  • Expect to start at the top
  • Want constant and immediate feedback
  • Move quickly from one thing to another
  • Not as independent as Gen X (parental back-up)
  • Surfers and scanners – not readers and digesters
  • Expect constant and immediate feedback
  • Want directness over subtlety
  • Technologically savvy but crave personal contact
  • Always hurried – know what they want
  • Want to learn
  • Want solid knowledge base and real-world applications
  • Want clear and organized presentation of material
  • Want to be stimulated, active and participatory
  • Want to know why (how does this activity, reading connect to my future career?)
  • Want teachers/trainers/lectureres to be enthusiastic, helpful and engaged
  • Want face-to-face contact but accept boundaries

Reasons why teachers use Problem Based Learning

  1. Development of Long-Term Knowledge Retention: Students who participate in PBL activities can improve their abilities to retain and recall information. This is because, while learning about something, open discussion between peers reinforces understanding of subject matter.
  2. Use of Diverse Instruction Types: Grouping students together for PBL allows them to tackle tangible problems and enjoy team-based learning. You can also provide content such as videos, news articles and more.
  3. Continuous Engagement: It’s not hard to see the potential for engagement, as students collaborate to solve real-world problems that directly affect or heavily interest them.
  4. Development of Transferable Skills: Using PBL to present tangible contexts and consequences can allow learning to become more profound and durable, helping students apply skills they develop to other real-world scenarios.
  5. Improvement of Teamwork and Interpersonal Skills: Completing a PBL challenge hinges on interaction and communication, meaning students should also build skills related to teamwork and collaboration

Problem Based Learning Websites:

Cornell University on Problem Based Learning

Study Guides and Strategies-an educational service on Problem Based Learning.

Illinois CITL on Problem Based Learning

Problem Based Learning at McMaster University

Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL)

University of Delaware

Suggested Delivery Tool: Camtasia

What is Camtasia?
Camtasia Studio is two products in one, a screen recorder and a video maker and editor. This product is capable of creating powerful, interactive, and professional videos that can be used for a wide range of projects such as the making of YouTube videos. Read our Audit of Camtasia.

5 reasons why we love Camtasia

  1. It’s a premium product but it is an excellent one, while there are free video recording products on the market, they have key limitations such as limited recordings and flexibility
  2. Once you start using it, you will fall in love with its versatility! You can use it to record – Computer screens, PowerPoint presentations, Computer camera or webcam, Voice narration or any other audio
  3. Completed projects can be published and uploaded to YouTube, Google Docs, and right from the Camtasia dashboard
  4. It supports a wide range of file formats for importing and exporting videos and other projects
  5. It is very user friendly, featuring a drag and drop editor. It is also well documented and supported – see Tech Smith tutorials.