Welcome to the Learning, Teaching, and Innovative Technologies Center!

Located in the James E Walker Library, Room 348

Teaching Resources

Problem Based Learning


brain-based learning

cooperative learning

active learning

critical thinking

Overview Problem-based learning (also called guided design) is based on the assumptions that people are evolved to solve problems. In education, the general principle that students like to solve problems that offer a challenge but are still solvable is important." (McKeachie, Teaching Tips, p 227).
"How can I get my students to think?" is a question asked by many faculty, regardless of their disciplines. Problem-based learning (PBL) is an instructional method that challenges students to "learn to learn," working cooperatively in groups to seek solutions to real world problems. These problems are used to engage students' curiosity and initiate learning the subject matter. PBL prepares students to think critically and analytically, and to find and use appropriate learning resources. --BarbaraDuch

"...an essential component of problem-based learning is that content is introduced in the context of complex real-world problems. In other words, the problem comes first (Boud, 1985; Boud and Feletti, 1991; Woods, 1985). This contrasts with prevalent teaching strategies where the concepts, presented in a lecture format, precede "end-of-the-chapter" problems. In problem-based learning, students working in small groups must identify what they know, and more importantly, what they don't know and must learn (learning issues) to solve a problem. These are prerequisites for understanding the problem and making decisions required by the problem. The nature of the problems preclude simple answers. Students must go beyond their textbooks to pursue knowledge in other resources in between their group meetings. The primary role of the instructor is to facilitate group process and learning, not to provide easy answers. With the change in format come different forms of assessment such as group examinations.(Harold White, Univ of Delware, his introduction to Dan Tries Problem-Based Learning)

MTSU Resources

LTITC Resources

From our library--

Adams, J.L. (2001). Conceptual blockbusting: A guide to better ideas. New York: Basic Books.

Brookfield, S.D. (1987). Developing critical thinkers: Challenging adults to explore alternative ways of thinking and acting. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Donald, J.G. (2002). Learning to think: Disciplinary perspectives. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Jensen, E. (2000). Brain-based learning: The new science of teaching and training. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Kurfiss, J.G. (1988). Critical thinking: Theory, research, practice, and possibilities. ASHE-Eric Higher Education Reports. Washington, DC: The George Washington University press.

Ruggiero, V.R. (1996). Becoming a critical thinker: A master student text from Houghton-Mifflin. Rapid City, SD: Houghton-Mifflin Company.

Stepien, W.J., Senn, P.R., & Stepian, W.C. (2000). The internet and problem-based learning: Developing solutions through the web. Tuscon, AZ: Zephyr Press.

Vangundy, A.B. (2005). 101 activities for teaching creativity and problem solving. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

Teaching Tip

Online Resources: Tips and Strategies/Associations
Clearinghouse for Problem Based Learning offers an extensive collection of materials for educators interested in pbl--"the problems and articles are peer reviewed by PBL experts in the disciplinary content areas. Teaching notes & supplemental materials accompany each problem, providing insights and strategies that are innovative and class tested." Actively solicits authors and reviewers as well.
Problem Based Learning Program at the University of Delaware. Syllabi, course materials, and more on this site.

Dan Tries Problem-Based Learning. A case study for students by Harold White, Univ of Delaware.

Samford University has played a leading role in problem-based learning. www.samford.edu/pbl
CriticalThinking.org: Critical Thinking Online Course

Online Publications: Viewpoints, Articles, Books...
Washington State University- Guide to Rating Critical and Integrative Thinking
Mission Critical
Brown University, Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning: Critical Reading