Problem Based Learning (PBL)

Published 8/10/2019

Problem based learning (PBL) is an student-centred approach to teaching that supports creative and complex problem-solving. It seeks to address open-ended problems and real-world scenarios that researchers and industry encounter in professional practice and can be adopted to work in almost all disciplines. Ash Tierney has written this blog post outlining more detail about PBL and the benefits it can bring.

A few programmes in the University have already adopted PBL as their main pedagogy (MB21 in Health Sciences and programmes from the Centre for Innovation) but there are still many students who do not encounter this way of learning.

These seven steps can be used as a guide for students to work through when presented with a problem.

The way you implement problem-based learning changes completely depending on your discipline – it is impossible for us to provide an single approach for all. However, there are a few points to consider when creating any problem-based learning activity:

  • Google shouldn’t be able to give an answer to the problem
  • There probably isn’t a single correct/incorrect answer
  • The problem takes more than a minute to solve

We’ve pulled together some top examples from each discipline and listed them below.

Discipline-specific resources 

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University Case Studies