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Web Resources on Problem-Based Learning

Introduction to Problem-Based Learning (3 links)Introduction to Problem-Based Learning. Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy. A basic Web-based tutorial on problem-based learning (PBL) that defines PBL; describes ill-structured problems in PBL; discusses the roles of teachers and students in PBL; delineated the benefits of PBL; clarifies the parameters of PBL; and presents organizational options for PBL.

Problem-Based Learning. University of Washington – Center for Instructional Development and Research. A concise summary that defines problem-based learning and answers the following key questions: Why use problem-based learning? How does problem-based learning work? How does problem-based learning work? and What kinds of classes can problem-based learning be used in? From the Teaching and Leaning Bulletin, Volume 7(3), 2004.

What is Problem-Based Learning?. University of Western Australia – Centre for Staff Development. Broadly defines problem-based learning (PBL) as learning that is centered around a problem, resulting in an approach to curriculum which is problem-centered rather than discipline centered. Outlines the features of a problem-based curriculum and the relationship between PBL and the principles of adult learning. From Issues of Teaching and Learning Vol 2, No. 4.

Problem-Based Learning: Methods & Tools (10 links)
A Student-Centered Model of PBL. Mierson, S. Describes one instructor’s experience in implementing Problem-Based Learning (PBL) in an Advanced Mammalian Physiology course, including the structure, process and student reception. From the University of Delaware’s About Teaching Newsletter, January, 1995.

Creating Problems for PBL. White, H. A good problem typically involves a real situation, sequential components, and sufficient complexity to engage a group of students productively for up to a week or more. They require students to gain understanding, apply multiple concepts, and make decisions based on their work. Describes how science instructors can identify suitable topics on which to base problems for use a PBL curriculum.

IDEA Papers – Helping Your Students Develop Critical Thinking Skills (No. 37). Kansas State University. Recommends theoretically grounded and empirically supported strategies teachers can use to improve the development and assessment of students’ thinking skills. Present ‘Steps for Better Thinking’, conceptualized as the skills in a developmentally grounded problem solving or inquiry process. Includes examples of tasks and tools that can be adapted for learning purposes in any course or experiential setting to enhance students’ thinking skills.

Problem based learning. Wood, DF. Full text of British Medical Journal article on this topic (BMJ 2003; 326: 328-330), from the ABC of learning and teaching in medicine series (clinical reviews).

Problem Solving Rubric. Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence. This assessment scale evaluates the process employed in response to a problem-solving task. It takes into consideration the level of student knowledge and understanding with respect to the given problem solving task; the selection and implementation of appropriate procedures and/or strategies; and the accuracy of the solution obtained.

Problem-Based Learning in Physics: The Power of Students Teaching Students. Duch, B. In a traditional science class, learning tends to proceed from the abstract to the concrete, with concepts being introduced first, followed by an application problem. In problem-based learning (PBL), students are presented with an interesting, relevant problem ‘up front,’ so that they can experience for themselves the process of doing science. Presented here is an example and personal observations from an instructor of an undergraduate physics course. From the University of Delaware’s About Teaching Newsletter, January, 1995.

Problem-Based Learning, Especially in the Context of Large Classes. Woods, DR. Defines and clarifies the concept of Problem-Based Learning (PBL), related PBL to the process of problem-solving, and describes use of small group, self-directed PBL at McMaster University. Includes links to the full-text (PDF files) of Don Wood’s book Problem-based Learning: Helping your students gain the most from PBL (1995).

Problem-Solving in Groups. University of Washington – Center for Instructional Development and Research. Working in groups can help students tackle challenging problems by stimulating creative thinking and higher-level reasoning strategies. It can also help promote long-term retention of course content. Student response to collaborative learning depends largely on how group work is used. Clear goals, organized groups, and explicit links to other components of the class all help contribute to effective learning in groups. From CIDR Bulletin, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2002.

Problems: A Key Factor in PBL. Duch, B. A critical factor in the success of PBL is the problem itself. The short paper describes the characteristics of good problems and where can you find problems or cases in your discipline to use in your courses. Provides concrete examples of various levels of problems from physics and biology.

Skills to Enhance Problem-Based Learning. Peterson, M. Discusses the interpersonal skills necessary to enhance PBL, and suggest how these skills can be improved and incorporated into the curriculum.


Problem-Based Learning Issues (4 links)
But I Teach a Large Class. Dion, L. Describes the author’s experience in using problem-based learning in a large class. Successful application requires attention to detail, organization, and some built-in structure which may not be necessary with a smaller class. The additional time involved can pay off handsomely in the enhanced rapport which you establish with your students as they become actively engaged creators-of-ideas rather than docile, passive recipients-of-knowledge. From the University of Delaware’s About Teaching Newsletter, Spring 1996.

Problem-Based Learning: A Paradigm Shift or a Passing Fad?. Camp, G. The use of problem-based learning in medical education and other educational settings has escalated. What once was considered a ‘fringe’ innovation has become much more mainstream. This paper addresses whether PBL will become such a successful innovation that it becomes the ‘norm’, or whether its popularity and widespread adoption will fade and be replaced by another, newer innovation.

Undergraduate medical education: comparison of problem-based learning and conventional teaching.Nandi, PL, Chan, JNF, Chan, CPK, Chan, P & Chan. LPK. A review of the literature on studies comparing all aspects of problem-based learning with the conventional mode of teaching, based on a Medline literature search from 1980 through 1999. Concludes that a combination of both the conventional and newer curricula may provide the most effective training for undergraduate medical students. PDF file.

We Never Said It Would Be Easy. Felder, R. Problem-based learning can impose steep learning curves on both instructors and students, and initial instructor awkwardness and student hostility (to both the instructor and their team) are common. To succeed, instructors need to understand how the process works, take steps to smooth out the initial glitches, and wait out the inevitable setbacks until the payoffs start emerging. From Chem Engr Education, 29(1), 32-33, 1995.


Prestructured Medline Searches on Problem-Based Learning (7 links)
Comparative Studies and Meta-Analyses on Problem-Based Learning. National Library of Medicine. A dynamic search of the NLM Medline database on this topic using the NLM PubMed interface.

Problem-Based Learning – Review Articles. National Library of Medicine. A dynamic search of the NLM Medline database on this topic using the NLM PubMed interface.

Problem-Based Learning in Allied Health. National Library of Medicine. A dynamic search of the NLM Medline database on this topic using the NLM PubMed interface.

Problem-Based Learning in Dental Education. National Library of Medicine. A dynamic search of the NLM Medline database on this topic using the NLM PubMed interface.

Problem-Based Learning in Medical Education. National Library of Medicine. A dynamic search of the NLM Medline database on this topic using the NLM PubMed interface.

Problem-Based Learning in Nursing Education. National Library of Medicine. A dynamic search of the NLM Medline database on this topic using the NLM PubMed interface.

Problem-Based Learning in Pharmacy. National Library of Medicine. A dynamic search of the NLM Medline database on this topic using the NLM PubMed interface.


Problem-Based Learning Centers (3 links)
Problem-Based Learning. Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction. Provides an overview of Problem-Based Learning (PBL), sample lesson plans and materials and a searchable archive of PBL resources. Community College oriented, but still a useful resource.

Problem-Based Learning. Maastricht University. A resource center on problem-based learning providing access to related publications, courses, educational and curriculum materials, citation database, Web links and conferences.

Problem-Based Learning. University of Delaware. A general academic clearinghouse that provides access to PBL articles and books, sample PBL problems, and PBL courses and syllabi.


Additional Resources on Problem-Based Learning (2 links) PBL Insight. Samford University. The newsletter for the Center for Problem-Based Learning at Samford University. Problem-Based Learning List (PBLIST). Indiana University/Purdue University – Indiananapolis. A Listserv on problem-based learning maintained by Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis.