Problem-Based Learning: Everything You Need to Know
This type of learning typically begins with a “problem,” as students are given the challenge of solving an open-ended question (or group of questions). To come to a viable conclusion, learners must utilize several resources known as “trigger material” so that they can recognize the different viewpoints from which the problem can be addressed.
This type of learning has no one correct approach or answer. What is required by students is not the provision of a specific answer, but the thought process and approach of the student is assessed, as they try to come up with usually diverse answers. Students can tap into their prior knowledge, use online resources, and ask critical questions to brainstorm with their peers and present a solution. In many cases, the presented problems are difficult real-life scenarios. Students are often placed in groups of 4-8 and asked to come up with a solution to the given problem as a group. For instance, a problem-based learning project could need students to pitch ideas and make their own business plans to solve a societal need. This will require students to conceptualize, plan, and execute their innovative product in front of their classmates and community leaders. This way, problem-based learning encourages students to learn concepts and develop problem-solving skills instead of just absorbing facts.
Through this approach, students are also taught the importance of working together, using their different viewpoints, and creating a cohesive, robust answer. It is extremely important that each student participates in solving the problem, and teamwork is extremely valued.
For this approach, the problems can come from various sources, such as magazines, newspapers, textbooks, journals, and television/ movies. While some problems are in such form that they can be used with a little bit of editing, others may need to be rewritten to make them fit for use.
With some creativity, problem-based learning can be used for any subject area. Though the core problems will differ among disciplines, there are some features that a good problem-based learning approach should embody, such as:
· Challenge students to understand classroom concepts on a deeper level
· Connect present course objectives clearly to previous courses and knowledge
· Push students to make decisions they can defend
· Encourage teamwork to solve complex issues
· Engage students to solve an open-ended problem by going through multiple complex stages
Problem-based learning encourages students to become open-minded, innovative, and logical, thus offering them one of the most empowering educational experiences.