Problem Based Learning

What is Problem Based Learning

Problem based learning is a learning process which involves a series of distinct steps that probably lead to better learning outcomes.

The steps involved in the PBL approach:

  • The teacher introduces to a small student group, a real world problem they will face in their career.
  • The students then think about the scenario, reviewing it as a group. They discuss what they DO KNOW, and then try to work out what they DON'T KNOW, relevant to this scenario.
  • They then make a list of learning objectives- things they don't know which they need to to about it.
  • Session finishes after students are allocated a section to research.
  • Students research their learning objectives each their own sections.
  • Session 2 is where the students return and discuss the outcomes of their research, thereby completing each other's understanding of the topic at hand.

Claimed advantages of Problem Based Learning

1. Student's retention will be better due to the deeper processing of information and the purposeful linking into what was already known inherent in the process.
2. The usefulness of the data will be improved, as it is linked together in a way that it will actually be used later.
3. Students will be more likely in future to be able to solve similar problems since they, during this process, solved this problem scenario to a degree, themselves.
(i.e. they will continue to be capable of self-directed learning).

Evidence for Problem Based Learning being superior.

Whether the extra resources that are involved in providing problem based learning methodology are worth the supposed better outcomes at a given educational institution is a hotly debated subject.
Some institutions are therefore moving to PBL based learning, while others are abandoning it depending on their resources and interpretation of the educational literature.

Like with most hot debates, the truth likely will be decided to lie somewhere between the 2 points of view.

Problem Based Learning and RecallPlus

Using Problem based learning compliments the use of RecallPlus as using PBL's will help you work out the important associations and 'Initial Prompts' on cards, that better approximate the problems that you will face in the real world.

Medical students currently use RecallPlus as the method for organising their thinking about the topic covered in the Problem, and then to subsequently organise, make notes and revise the material learnt.

Retention, even with Problem based learning, decays with time, and needs revision.

Unlike with typical methods for either taking standard notes or making up flashcards, the 'ideas' represented by textboxes in RecallPlus with the 'hooks'/'links'/'connections' between them, reflect the way human memory actually works.

You can therefore more accurately represent what actually was being remembered using RecallPlus.

Students should record the way they thought about the topic including the new ideas and links AND how they related the new information to what they already knew (what their new 'memory hooks' were).

RecallPlus will then, in exactly the same way that they do for low level purely factual data, allow you to revise those memory hooks and higher levels of learning, in a scientific fashion.