Problem-Based Learning

An Instructional Model of Collaborative Learning

Authored by: Cindy E. Hmelo-Silver , Christina DeSimone

The International Handbook of Collaborative Learning

Print publication date:  February  2013
Online publication date:  March  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415805735
eBook ISBN: 9780203837290
Adobe ISBN: 9781136869556


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Problem-based learning (PBL) is a learner-centered pedagogical approach in which students engage in goal-directed inquiry. In PBL, students work collaboratively to learn through solving complex and ill-structured problems (Barrows, 2000; Hmelo-Silver, 2004). They engage in self-directed learning (SDL) and then apply their new knowledge to the problem and reflect on their learning of the content and strategies employed. The teacher’s role changes from one of telling to one of facilitating the learning process. More specifically, the goals of PBL include helping students develop (a) flexible knowledge, (b) effective problem-solving skills, (c) SDL skills, and (d) effective collaboration skills.

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