The PBL Model

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Steps to Working with Problem-based and Case-based Learning (Student Page)

1. Students work at tables with books and laptops. Read and analyze the problem scenario. Discuss the scenario with your group. Different members of the group may pick up different facts or problems in the scenario. By working together, your team will be able to form a comprehensive approach to the problem and therefore, a more   thorough solution.

Good communication skills are essential to forming an accurate assessment of the problem.            Listening to each team member’s ideas and suggestions may help your team better understand      the problem you are addressing. Not getting everyone’s ideas may make you miss an important
part of the problem. 

2. List what is known. Start a list in which you write down everything you know about the situation beginning with the information contained in the scenario. Add knowledge from your team members.

Again, good communication skills are important for this step. Simple communication techniques such as respecting, not dismissing, others’ input and restating facts and opinions out loud can clarify statements and help formulate a plan for working the problem.

3. Develop a problem statement. Using your analysis, develop a problem statement that concisely describes the problem you have to resolve. The problem statement can be one or two statements and can be revised as you find out new information.

4. List what is needed. Your analysis of what you know will tell you what you don’t know and it’s probably a lot. Prepare a list of questions you need to answer in order to solve the problem. The questions will probably be a mix of facts and concepts. The questions will help guide your research into the topics included in scenario.

5. List possible actions. Review what you found out in your research with the team. Your group should be able to identify recommendations, solutions, or hypotheses that could at least begin to address the solution to the problem. List your group’s recommendations under a new heading “What should we do?” Also list more research tasks you need to do to find out more about the problem or your solution. Your list might include visiting the library, getting more data online, or asking an expert.

6. Analyze information. Analyze information your team has gathered. Revise the problem statement, if needed; add to the one(s) you have. At this point, your group will likely discuss and test hypotheses to explain the problem. Some problems may not require hypotheses; instead a recommended solution or opinion (based on your research data) may be appropriate.

7. Present findings. Report your findings and recommendations or solutions. Your presentation should include the problem statement, questions, data gathered, analysis of data, and support for solutions or recommendations based on the data analysis. Your group should be able to report not only the facts and problems presented in the scenario, but also the rationale for your solution. Be ready to support your decision with facts.

Note: The steps in this model may have to be performed several times. Steps two through five may be conducted simultaneously as new information becomes available. As more information is gathered, the problem statement may have to be refined or altered.

Adapted from: Center of Educational Technologies (Classroom of the Future) Exploring the Environment website