Essential Characteristics of PBL

PBL Faculty Institute

  • student-centred
  • authentic
  • relevant and meaningful to student interests
  • students responsible for locating and evaluation resources
  • inductive: “Introduce content through the process of problem solving, rather than problem solving after introduction to content.” —
  • “Builds on/challenges prior learning: If the case has some relevance to students, then they are required to call on what they already know or think they know. By focusing on their prior learning, students can test assumptions, prior learning strategies, and facts.” —
  • “Choose real or contrived cases and ground the count in the kinds of challenges faced by practitioners in the field.” —
  • “Problems are complex and ambiguous, and require meta-cognition:  Select actual examples from the “real life” of the discipline that have no simple answers. Require students to analyze their own problem solving strategies.” —
  • “Creates cognitive conflict: Select cases with information that makes simple solutions difficult: while the solution may address one part of a problem, it may create another problem.  Challenges prior learning as noted above.”  —
  • “Collaborative & Interdependent: Have students work in small groups in order to address the presented case.”

An exploration of PBL in an MBA setting: What Is Problem-Based Learning (PBL)? 

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