For more than twenty years, the Leaders and Fellows of the Institute for Transforming University Education (ITUE) have encouraged the adoption of student-centered and active classroom pedagogies—and in particular—the use of problem-based learning in the undergraduate classroom. On- and off-campus workshops are held for faculty and students to enhance their understanding of PBL.
Learning begins with a problem…
In a problem-based learning (PBL) class, students work together in small groups to solve real-world problems. PBL is an active and iterative process that engages students to identify what they know and, more importantly, what they don’t know. Their motivation to solve a problem becomes their motivation to find and apply knowledge. PBL can be combined with lecture to form a hybrid model of teaching, and it can be implemented in virtually all courses and subjects.
Through problem-based learning, students can improve their problem-solving skills, research skills, and social skills. In addition, PBL benefits students in the following ways:
- Increases motivation to learn
- Develops critical thinking, writing, and communication skills
- Enhances retention of information
- Provides a model for lifelong learning
- Demonstrates the power of working cooperatively
The primary role of an instructor is to facilitate group process and learning—not to provide easy answers. By relinquishing the control of answers, instructors are able to learn with students, and they often find renewed interest and excitement in teaching. The challenge in teaching a PBL model is creating strong problems that lead students to realize the intended course learning outcomes.