This paper explores the use of problem-based learning (PBL) in the classroom. Problem-based learning is a teaching method that has been used successfully for over 50 years and continues to evolve and expand into multiple subjects and grade levels. PBL is a student-centered instructional approach that allows students to learn content while developing critical thinking and collaboration skills in order to solve a problem. The characteristics of PBL will be outlined along with the benefits to using PBL compared to lecture-based learning (LBL). Some challenges are mentioned as well that should be considered before beginning the use of PBL in a classroom setting.
What is problem-based learning and why should teachers incorporate this into their classrooms? Problem-based learning (PBL) is a learner-centered approach that allows students to learn content through experiencing problems while working in small groups. They learn through their own actions, thoughts, and ideas that occur while conducting research, integrating theory and practice, and applying knowledge and skills to solve the problem (Savery, 2006). The roles of the teacher and student change; the student effectively becomes their own teacher, while the teacher becomes a guide. This paper examines using problem-based learning in the classroom.
In the majority of classrooms, students are provided the information and then given a project, quiz, or test to assess their understanding of the content. Teachers struggle to make lessons meaningful to students and engage them in their own learning. Students that are not interested in the material become disengaged and can become rebellious or retreat into themselves; in either case the st...
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...not only to prepare but also to complete, and be ready to adjust the lesson if enough time was not allotted (see Appendix A for resources that contain PBL examples and lessons).
Problem-based learning has its disadvantages, however the advantages to students far outweigh them. By using PBL, teachers give their students an advantage over their peers not only in their immediate environment but also in their future endeavors. They will develop skills that will allow them to analyze and solve everyday problems they may encounter and to navigate social networks that they will find themselves in once they graduate high school. Great teachers are not the masters of their classroom but servants to the idea that educating and encouraging young minds to excel can one day change the world. PBL helps students develop the critical thinking skills necessary to do this.
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