Problem Based Learning Resources

Background and Theory

Problem-Based Learning from Wheeling

Problem Based Learning - Provides an overview of problem based learning (PBL)
  and offers a searchable archive of PBL resources. a project of the Maricopa
  Center for Learning & Instruction Maricopa Community Colleges, Tempe, AZ.

What is Problem Based Learning?
Linda T. Torp explains what is meant by an ill-structured problem. She contends that students learn from the inside by stepping inside the problem situation in the role of stakeholder. She describes a waste management problem which was solved by students at Chicago's Steinmetz High Schools Career Academy. She discusses the role of the teacher in PBL and concludes that the students' need to know is fuelled by the real world nature of the problems presented.

A Comparative Study of Learning In Lecture Vs. Problem-based Format Discusses
  Elizabeth M. Lieuxís, research methods and variables she considered that compare process and outcomes of a PBL section and a lecture-based section of the same course. Although she cautions readers that her research involves small numbers, her measures show no difference between learning in either section or between which method is preferred by students. One positive for PBL was that attendance was better in that section. From course evaluations, she stated that students perceived they learned more in the lecture-based section but to counter this, students in PBL did just as well on the final exam. PBL students thought they developed better problem-solving skills than the other section. She thinks that she needs to better prepare students for PBL so will provide more direction and support to those students. to appreciate the differences.

Why Problem-based Learning?
Before reaching the conclusion that Dublin should move to a full PBL curriculum, Professor Diarmuid B. Shanley and Dr. Mary Kelly of the School of Dental Sciences, Trinity College, Dublin, identified the deficiencies in the traditional medical and dental curricula. They examined the characteristics of a self-directed learner and concluded that the PBL approach seemed to fill many of the deficiencies which they had identified. The features of a community-oriented curriculum were noted as well as the pros and cons of changing to a PBL curriculum. Consideration was also given to the question of how evaluation results from students in the traditional system would compare with the results from students pursuing a PBL curriculum.

Problem-based Learning: Theory, Practice and Research
This is a issue of "Zeitschrift für Hochschuldidaktik" (Austrian Association for Didactics in Higher Education) from 1997 devoted to PBL with a long list of articles outlining application of PBL in multiple disciplines

Generic problem based learning essentials

The motivation for curricular change

Internet classrooms using PBL  -what is it?

Disadvantages of Problem-based Learning  The following six topics are discussed as possible disadvantages to the problem-based learning methodology: academic achievement, amount of time, role of student, role of teacher, appropriate problems, and assessment.

Engaged Learning  A rationale for the permanence of engaged learning in education is presented here. The argument is made that engaged learning a) supports the way our brains work and learn and b) correlates with what students should know in a technological age for success. PBL is listed among the instructional models which employ engaged learning and these models are explored. Resources for information on engaged learning are also listed.

A guide for using engaged learning with technology tools  by Bill Stepien

Problem Based Learning: a Paradigm Shift or a Passing Fad?
This article, written by Gwendie Camp, of the University of Texas Medical Branch, traces the history of PBL and relates PBL to other establihed learning methods. It also differentiates between "pure" PBL and variations of PBL. It states the finding that PBL students show improved knowledge retention and learning skills. The author also predicts that possible changes in the ways PBL is practised will occur as the PBL explosion continues and cites some possible future innovations.

Institutional Resources

Center for Problem-Based Learning Research and Communications
As part of an endowment grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts, Samford University is redesigning core areas of its undergraduate curriculum to include problem-based learning. Five schools are participating in this effort: arts and sciences, business, education, nursing, and pharmacy. In addition, Samford is researching Problem-Based Learning in Undergraduate Higher Education. Samford University saw the need to explore PBL in undergraduate education and implement PBL in the "softer" disciplines where the concept of a problem has fewer specific variables that can be manipulated with clinical accuracy and precision.

Center For Problem-based Learning was established by the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy to engage in PBL research, information exchange, teacher training and curriculum development in K-16 educational settings.   What is the Center for Problem-Based Learning? What is Problem-Based Learning (PBL)? What does PBL look like?What does a mini-problem look like? Who is doing PBL? Who can I contact about PBL?

Southern Illinois University Medical School
For several decades medical students at SIU have experienced a problem-based learning curriculum. Their site has one of the most extensive collections of PBL resources.

The University of Hong Kong Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences Problem-based Learning Home Page
This home page allows the reader to explore how PBL is used in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences of Hong Kong University. Links are present which explain why the decision was made in 1996 to convert the B.Sc program to PBL. The curriculum is outlined and an example of a PBL tutorial is given. Comments are also made about web-based tutorial guides used in the program.

Problem Based Learning Inititative - Southern Illionois University School of Medicine

Problarc - Problem Based Learning Assessment and Research Centre
has been established since 1987 as a Centre for Excellence in problem-based learning. The Centre is located within the Learning and Development Program in the Information and Education Services Division at The University of Newcastle, Australia.

Problem-based Learning At The University of Delaware
includes numerous articles about PBL as well courses, syllabi, and sample problems as used in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and other courses.


Webquest Resources

Creating An Appropriate Problem  This site discusses three critical components a PBL problem ought to have - relevance, coverage, and complexity.

Planning and Conducting Problem-based Learning
This site provides checklists for planning and conducting PBL. Lists included deal with a) preparing for leading learning groups b) introducing the learners to PBL and c) important points to focus on during the PBL learning groups.

Problems As Possibilities: Transforming Garbage To Gold
Sheryl Finkle, Ph.D. and Linda Torp, Ed.S. give an account of the design and implementation of a project put out by the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy Center For Problem Based Learning involving elementary, middle, and high schools. A common problem was used by student groups in different schools to provide interdiscilinary knowledge and skills through PBL. The problem was also implemented through service learning.

USC California Science Project
The California Science Project (CSP) was started in 1990 to train K-12 science teachers. The teacher training was done using problem-based learning. Not only did teachers get to know the science content areas using PBL, they also learned how PBL can be used as a learning tool. They could then use PBL to instruct students in their K-12 science classes. Several agencies are involved in the project. Among these are the Center For Craniofacial Molecular Biology (CCMB), the Center to Advance Pre- College Education (CAPSE), and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). The history and development of the CSP can be accessed via this web site. Accounts of various projects used in the training of teachers are also presented here. Some examples include the Orchid Project, the Octapus Project, and the Partners Project. The web site provides a link to a number of frank answers to some interesting questions on PBL. Several K-12 PBL scenarios are also available.


Webquest Resources

Distributed Course Delivery For Problem Based Learning  Twenty-two reports created at the California State University Faculty Development Institute on Distributed Course Delivery For Problem Based Learning are presented here. The reports attempt to answer many of the questions people have who do not know what PBL is and why it is used to educate. A good place to start is by reading the following: Report #14 from San Bernardino, Report #5 from Fullerton, and Report #4 from Fresno.

Problem Based Learning In a Large Teaching Format
Dr. Ted Cleary of the Faculty of Medicine Department of Pathology, University of Adelaide, outlines how PBL was administered to a group of approximately one hunderd and fifty students in an introductory medicine course. The objectives of the course are listed and the evaluation process outlined.

Problem-based Learning, Especially In The Context of Large Classes
This McMaster University web site defines problem-based learning very broadly to include several different learning environments. It also explains how what is refered to as small group, self-directed, self-assessed PBL is carried out. A description of how PBL is used in the McMaster University theme school program is given. Information is available on two books by D R. Woods, one written for students, the other for faculty. Other teacher resources are also identified, including a videotape.

Scaffolding For Success In Problem-based Learning
This paper is authored by Tony Greening of The School of Information Technology and Mathematical Sciences at the University of Ballarat, Australia. It makes the point that although PBL encourages student independence, yet the provision of an appropriate support structure is critical for success.


El Dorado County Office of Education: Problem-Based Learning  What is Problem-Based Learning? Models

Case Studies In Science.  The State University of New York at Buffalo has been using case studies in the sciences as an applied form of PBL- this site presents an overview, specific examples, workshop materials, and more.

Ethnolinguistic Diversity and Students with Mild Disabilities - college course by Dr. Graves Problem #1: Using the sources listed below, devise a plan of action for a students in your school who have been referred to special education. Problem #2: Using the information you find below, plan appropriate assessment for a student or students in your school who have been referred to special education.

WebQuests have been developed by student teachers, experienced teachers, library/media specialists and others. The matrix below shows some examples.

Environmental problems

Problem-based Learning In Biology With 20 Case Examples
In this article, Peter Ommundsen outlines an approach to learning biology using PBL which can be adapted to large classes. The examples he uses are suitable for freshman college students. He provides a sample student worksheet and also lists twenty typical case problems which have been tested for this level.

Problem-based Learning In SCEN 103
George Watson of the University of Delaware has posted two PBL problems, "Crossed Circuits" and "Ricearoni", on this site. Llinks are available which provide information pertinent to the problems.

Buck Institute For Education "is a non profit research and evaluation organization dedicated to improving schools by advancing knowledge about the practice of teaching and the process of learning. The Institute develops innovative educational practices in collaboration with teachers and refines these practices in classrooms." Their projects include "Project Based Learning" for middle and high school teachers to help plan and implement project based units in their classrooms; and "Problem Based Economics", An engaging way to teach high school students core economic principles using problem simulations.


The Steps to the Research Cycle Lowell Research Cycle Rubric Used for PROJECT EVALUATION This rubric is used to evaluate how students perform at each stage of the research cycle.

The Effective Collaborator Rubric The Effective Collaborator Rubric Used for PROJECT EVALUATION This rubric created by Kulshan Middle School staff. This rubric is used to evaluate daily student performance in their teams.

The Direct and Indirect Costs of Implementing Problem-based Learning Into Traditional Professional Courses Within Universities is a report to examine the implementation of problem-based learning (PBL) into subjects within professional education courses at The University of Queensland.

The Learning Tree - what is PBL? barriers, facilitating and assessment

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