Week 8 – Problem Based Learning (PBL)

Problem Based Learning:

It is not surprising that PBL would be developed within a medical school like McMaster University.  If I teach you the problem you can use this concept to solve another problem in the near future.   Each new concept links to previous knowledge   The idea is to transfer information to students so they can solve problems, but it does not generally work that way.  A student can pass a course  but can’t use the knowledge to solve problems.  When you place the student in the middle of the problem they can learn by practicing. The transfer of knowledge from the detailed context into the concept makes a lot of sense.  This allows you to take what you know and apply it to what you are trying to learn.  The problem actually become the motivation and stimulus to learn.

Wheeler states “we encounter problems every day, some of which merely take a minute or two to solve.  Others take days or even years to circumvent, and then often with no guarantee of success.  Problem solving is therefore a key component of the lifelong learning process, involving many cognitive resources and much commitment and practice.”

PBL is used in areas where there are a lot of problems to be solved.  So it is found in medicine, law, engineering, etc.  Being an engineer in my previous career role I can definitely see the process take place.  The problem is presented to the student, the instructor becomes a facilitator, the student becomes engaged and responsible and collaborates with others.  This approach has been used in medical schools over an again.  Usually what happens in medical school is the following.  The academic teaching doctor will tell you what has to be done, then then will show you how to do it, then have you do it and then have you teach someone.  By doing this, you transfer the basic knowledge into a deeper thinking model and can apply this to other problems that you might encounter as well.

Now I can say that  am rooted in constructivism and practicing a PBL approach of instruction and learning.



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