Problem Based Learning (PBL) promotes the skill of independent search for new knowledge. In addition to the content knowledge acquired the working format provides opportunities to develop skills like problem solving, communication and group collaboration; qualities of vital importance for future working life.
After each meeting the group evaluates the work. This discussion is an important instrument to develop and improve the collaboration in the group.
Where did PBL start?
The method originates from McMaster University in Canada. At Maastricht University in Holland the work according to the seven steps has been developed and the effects of the method have been thoroughly researched. PBL reached Sweden in the eighties and since the beginning of the nineties we now have PBL on many programs at the Medical Faculty.
How many students work together in each group?
7-9. Sometimes 12-15 but then each group member gets less space to contribute to the process.
For how long does the group constellation last?
Most often for 7-8 weeks and sometimes for one full semester.
Is the teacher the leader of the group?
No, the group has a chairman and a secretary (or more) for each problem and these roles circulate so all students has to practice on how to lead the group. The tutor can take on a very active role but never when it comes to providing the content matter.
Does PBL only include the small group meetings?
No, any teaching and learning activity (lectures, laboratory work, study visits, seminars...) can be included in the course design but mind the sequence and always start with the problem first and do not provide any content prematurely. It will only shortcut the loop of motivation.