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Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning - page 6 / 13





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Overview of Problem-based Learning


whatever their current knowledge/experience aords. Learner motivation increases when responsibility for the solution to the problem and the process rests with the learner (Savery & Duy, 1995) and as student ownership for learning increases (Savery, 1998; 1999). Inherent in the design of PBL is a public articulation by the learners of what they know and about what they need to learn more. Individuals accept responsibility for seeking relevant information and bringing that back to the group to help inform the development of a vi- able solution.

  • The problem simulations used in problem-based learning must be ill-structured

and allow for free inquiry.

Problems in the real world are ill-structured (or they would not be problems). A critical skill developed through PBL is the ability to identify the problem and set parameters on the development of a solution. When a problem is well-structured learners are less motivated and less invested in the development of the solution. (See the section on Problems vs. Cases below.)

  • Learning should be integrated from a wide range of disciplines or subjects. Barrows notes that during self-directed learning, students should be able to access, study and integrate information from all the disciplines that might be related to understanding and resolving a particular problem—just as people in the real world must recall and apply information integrated from diverse sources in their work. The rapid expansion of information has encouraged a cross-fertilization of ideas and led to the development of new disciplines. Multiple perspectives lead to a more thorough understanding of the issues and the development of a more robust solution.

  • Collaboration is essential.

In the world after school most learners will nd themselves in jobs where they need to share information and work productively with others. PBL provides a format for the development of these essential skills. During a PBL session the tutor will ask questions of any and all members to ensure that information has been shared between members in relation to the group’s problem.

  • What students learn during their self-directed learning must be applied back to the problem with reanalysis and resolution. The point of self-directed research is for individuals to collect information that will inform the group’s decision-making process in relation to the problem. It is essential that each individual share coherently what he or she has learned and

  • volume 1, no. 1 (Spring 2006)

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