What is Problem-Based Learning?

problem-based learning in less than five minutes I I promise in the 1980s somebody decided that haircuts were way too messy so they combined the hair trimmer and the vacuum cleaner and we ended up with the flow be and I remember begging my parents for a Flowbee and they said no because they thought I would use it on the dog and they were probably right but the idea there is pretty clear that you can solve problems in unique ways and that’s the core idea of problem-based learning number one the need for problem-based learning school exists in a one-size-fits-all factory model where students are expected to passively consume content but here’s the thing kids aren’t widgets and one-size-fits-all is great for socks but lousy for minds kids need to dream and Wonder and imagine they need to design and build and tinker and they need to think critically and solve complex problems for years the model has involved going to school being compliant getting into college and then climbing the corporate ladder but the latter is now a maze and our students need to know how to navigate the complexity of a global society in other words students need to be empowered to solve real world problems and that’s why we have problem-based learning number two of the history of problem-based learning problem based learning began at Case Western University in the 1950s although it wasn’t called that at the time and the goal was to provide real-world problems for medical students to solve it soon spread to other medical schools and eventually made its way into business law engineering and education and by the 1960s you could find elements of problem-based learning within the new social studies framework of MA cialis and Cox as well as Herbert thing Linds group investigation model problem based learning fits well within the social family of Education because of the emphasis on real-world problems in human systems it’s not surprising that many of the problem based learning theorists cite John Dewey’s notion of democratic education as well as Paulo Freire A’s concept of critical pedagogy in other words kids need to be engaged with solving problems with in their world and here’s the description of problem-based learning there are four different phases number one you present or identify the problem in some cases the teacher decides on the problem in other cases individual students or the entire classroom community presents the initial problem phase number two they develop a plan for solving the problem here students work collaboratively in this phase where they figure out what they will do in order to solve the problem in some cases it’s a really small plan of action but sometimes they might engage in research brainstorming in ideation and in a few cases they might even decide to build a product the next phase is the implementation of the plan and this phase students tests out their plan to see if they can solve the problem and then finally they move to the last phase where they evaluate the implementation here students analyze the results and they also reflect on the process now here’s the ideal context for problem-based learning problem-based learning works best when students solve authentic real world problems math teacher Dan Meyer warns against solving problems that contain pseudo context where students solve problems that don’t actually reflect the way the world exists so it’s important that the problems feel real to the students in social studies students might broker peace in a war simulation in math they might determine the most efficient route for a trip in language arts they might figure out if a novel should be adapted into a movie and in science they might do a science fair project but the key idea here is that it is not project-based learning it’s problem-based and that’s because you don’t have to design a product you’re simply solving a problem ideally students will solve problems that actually exist their own world and here’s where the technology comes in our devices have a slew of apps that once required additional time in resources and the problem-based learning provides a model that taps into both the connective and creative capacity of technology so that students can access the tools and the information to solve these real-world problems so that is basically problem-based learning in less than five minutes


  1. Joe Beckman

    November 13, 2017 at 4:41 am

    Love your videos John! Saw authentic and relatable. Youโ€™re the man!

  2. Lorraine Tiu

    March 17, 2018 at 10:18 am

    found it really helpful ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Paul Forbes

    March 20, 2018 at 4:36 am

    My experience @ CSU is students are not the sticking point – they will moan but get with it. Staff insist if they don't tell students stuff they can't deal with questions problems – who is a lecturer if they don't tell students what to think? Give me the silver bullet/wooden stake to kill the vampires sucking curiosity out of students (Einstein wondered how curiosity survived formal education).

  4. Lynn Meyer

    September 8, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    Great Presentation! Thanks!

  5. Mariya

    September 14, 2018 at 11:27 am

    Easy to understand! I wish I could solve any problem that easy! lol

  6. mtcleroux

    October 6, 2018 at 1:22 am

    Love this! Such a friendly and fact-filled way to introduce the idea. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. 1stseason oftheyear

    October 31, 2018 at 10:26 am

    It was awesome and useful thank you

  8. Sanad Benali

    December 24, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    how are students evaluated

  9. GuattariCariri

    March 15, 2019 at 11:49 am

    This great content, in portuguese i found this great vรญdeo https://youtu.be/d_ck6tlV1iM amazing considerations

  10. Jully_ ua

    April 19, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    More information about pbl https://youtu.be/Tcdz8yBVvFE

  11. richardrandomk

    May 22, 2019 at 12:17 am

    Hi John. This is excellent, thank you for sharing. I am starting in a new position and will be trying to inculcate problem based learning as a general approach, wherever appropriate across the whole school. I'll let you know how we get on if you like ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Stacy Thourot

    July 14, 2019 at 5:21 pm

    Thank you for this!

  13. Milou Verspui

    September 23, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    Might I ask you what the source for this video has been?

Leave a Reply