Problem Based Learning (PBL)
Heinz Neber
ICIE, Ulm - Germany
Originally, PBL has been developed at Universities (medical studies). Meanwhile, PBL is used as a new approach to teaching in different disciplines. One of the main reasons is to prevent that students only acquire such kind of knowledge and skills that are only used for examinations. This kind of knowledge is called “inert”, because it will not be used and applied for decisions and the solution of problems outside of the examination and university (school) context. Other objectives that may be better attained by PBL than by any other instructional approaches are: Higher motivation of the students, general problem solving skills, self-regulatory skills, and improved collaboration or communication skills. All these competencies are require for being successful in a profession or even, more generally, in life.
Training Program
What is PBL? What are some of the main features of PBL as an instructional approach? One of the most important features is that students have to be much more (cognitively) active in order for acquiring knowledge. They have to find out what they do not know, and which information has be actively searched (e.g., by formulation clear intentions and questions focusing on what to learn). At the same time, the role of teachers change to being a tutor that helps the students in pursuing their learning intentions (e.g., by providing the needed information sources, like textbooks or even lectures). To stimulate students to be active in these ways, one of the most important component of PBL has to be designed by the teacher/ tutor. This component are ill-defined problems that initiate student’s learning activities in terms of more precisely defining the problem, and actively searching for solutions. These processes are organized in teams or groups. Structuring the learning environment more cooperatively or collaboratively is another main feature of PBL.
The workshop offered will correspondingly be organized into three parts which may be shortly outlined as follows:
In the first part, basic information about PBL will be provided. This includes the following point: the PBL history, PBL’s scientific basis (in psychology), the relations to more general international developments of learning and instruction, examples, and cases of PBL that illustrate possible variations in implementing this approach. In addition, results of empirical studies, and evaluations on PBL will be presented which allow the discussion of possible and required further applications and developments.
In the second and third parts, groups or teams of participants will be formed (with similar backgrounds/disciplines). The reason for that is to develop own PBL solutions (which have to be domain specific). At the second day, the teams should develop some important components of a PBL solution (e.g. transforming curricular or learning objectives into adequate problems for students). Decisions and arguments should be developed in the teams on how to organize the students, which information should be learned, and which information sources should be offered. Finally, a very important component has be discussed – this is the assessment issue. Therefore, tasks have to be designed that are adequate to measure the intended effects/ objectives.
Now, the single components that have been designed/ developed by the teams on the day before, should be integrated into an ultimate PBL-solution that can be really implemented and demonstrated in the class. After getting a short description/presentation of the PBL solution by each of the teams, it will be discussed which of these solutions will be performed/ implemented in the class.