ERIC Number: ED501593
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jun-6
A Brief Analysis of Research on Problem-Based Learning
Artino, Anthony R., Jr.
To be successful in the workplace of the 21st century, individuals must not only have an extensive store of knowledge, but also must know how to keep that knowledge current, apply it to solve novel problems, and function as a member of a team. This modern view of the workplace has compelled many educators to rethink the ways in which students are prepared (Hmelo & Evensen, 2000). Unlike the traditional, objectivist approach to teaching that focuses on identifying the elements that the learner must know, this new, constructivist approach emphasizes the importance of learning in context. That is, it is no longer enough for learners to acquire concepts in isolation; knowledge which often remains inert. Instead, learners must develop and continually modify their understanding of the world as they interact with other learners to solve realistic problems situated in meaningful tasks (Driscoll, 2005). For many educators, problem-based learning (PBL) represents a particularly useful example of instruction that is consistent with constructivist learning principles. Problem-based learning is an instructional method in which students learn through facilitated problem solving. In PBL, students learn by focusing on a complex problem that does not have a single correct answer, and they work together in collaborative teams to identify what needs to be learned in order to solve the problem. Furthermore, learners "engage in self-directed learning and then apply their new knowledge to the problem and reflect on what they learned and the effectiveness of the strategies employed" (Hemlo-Silver, 2004, p. 235). In theory, learning in PBL environments not only promotes more effective knowledge construction, but results in better learning transfer over time (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000). The purpose of this paper is to provide a brief overview and analysis of current research on PBL environments. To achieve this goal, the paper is organized into two main sections: a brief survey of the goals of PBL, and a review of relevant research on the effectiveness of PBL.
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A