PBL Model

Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is an instructional methodology that uses real-world contexts for in-depth investigations of a subject matter. PBL activities start with an ill-structured problem that serves as a springboard to team engagement.

In this course, ill-structured problems are included in scenarios and situations focused around environmental events. The PBL scenarios and situations contain complex issues, conflicts, puzzles, decisions, or circumstances from real-world experiences that require both basic skills and inquiry, information gathering, and reflection.

In this course, the PBL environments should raise the following questions:

During this course, you will use the PBL Model below to assess what is known, to answer questions, and then to analyze various options before presenting a recommendation or solution.


Problem-Based Learning Model
1. Read and analyze the scenario and situation.
Check your understanding of the scenario. Don't be tempted to start thinking about potential solutions or to start looking for information. You will be more effective in addressing complex scenarios by following Steps A through H.
2. List your personal understanding, ideas, or hunches.
You will usually have some understanding about the cause of the problem or ideas about how to solve the problem. These need to be listed; they will be supported or refuted as your investigation proceeds. You will also list many alternative conceptions that need to be addressed.
3. List what is known.
If needed, print a copy of the scenario and situation and move away from the computer. Make a list of everything you know. You do not need to conduct any research at this point. Just draw from your prior knowledge and the information that is included in the scenario.
4. List what is unknown.
Prepare a list of questions that you think need to be answered to solve the problem. Several types of questions may be appropriate. Some may address concepts or principles that need to be learned in order to address the situation. Other questions may be in the form of requests for more information. These questions will guide research that may take place on the Internet/WWW, in the library, or with other sources.
5. List what needs to be done.
Plan the investigation. Such actions may include questioning an expert, getting online data, or visiting a library to find answers to the questions developed in Step 4. When working with a team, divide the duties.
6. Develop a problem statement.
A problem statement is a one or two sentence idea that clearly identifies what you are trying to solve, produce, respond to, test, or find out. In more complex situations, you may have to begin one step, then consider the emerging information in order to complete the previous step. Keep in mind that the problem statement may have to be revised as new information is discovered and brought to bear on the situation. Developing a Problem Statement
7. Gather information.
You will gather, organize, analyze, and interpret information from multiple sources. Exchange ideas; think about solutions; weigh alternatives; and consider the pros and cons of potential courses of action. As more information is gathered, the problem statement may be refined or altered. Or, based upon your research data, a recommended solution or opinion may be appropriate.
8. Present findings.
Prepare a report or presentation in which you make recommendations, predictions, inferences, or other appropriate resolutions of the problem. Be prepared to support the positions you take. If appropriate, consider a multimedia presentation using images, graphics, or sound.


Note: The steps in this model may have to be completed several times. Steps 3 through 7 may be conducted concurrently as new information becomes available.