Problem-based learning (PBL) is a total approach to education. As defined by Dr. Howard Barrows and Ann Kelson of Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, PBL is both a curriculum and a process. The curriculum consists of carefully selected and designed problems that demand from the learner acquisition of critical knowledge, problem solving proficiency, self-directed learning strategies, and team participation skills. The process replicates the commonly used systemic approach to resolving problems or meeting challenges that are encountered in life and career.
In Problem Based Learning (PBL) environments, students act as professionals and confront problems as they occur - with fuzzy edges, insufficient information, and a need to determine the best solution possible by a given date. This is the manner in which engineers, doctors, and, yes, even teachers, approach problem solving, unlike many classrooms where teachers are the "sage on the stage" and guide students to neat solutions to contrived problems.
"How can I get my students to think?" is a question asked by many faculty, regardless of their disciplines. Problem-based learning (PBL) is an instructional method that challenges students to "learn to learn," working cooperatively in groups to seek solutions to real world problems. These problems are used to engage students' curiosity and initiate learning the subject matter. PBL prepares students to think critically and analytically, and to find and use appropriate learning resources. -- Barbara Duch
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