# PBL: Six Basic Steps to Success

### By Mamie Handy

## What is Problem-based learning (PBL)?

Problem-based Learning is identified as an approach to the curriculum and a teaching method. The problems are designed to challenge students to use problem solving techniques, self-directed learning strategies, team participation skills, and disciplinary knowledge (Case-based teaching, 2016). There are six basic steps that can be used to design, implement, and assess Problem-based learning.

## Step One: Identify OutcomesIdentify the learning outcomes of the project, particularly what students will be able to do after participating in the assessment (Problem-based learning, 2016). Once your course has learning outcomes that fit with PBL, you will develop assessments to measure student learning, such as group contracts, self/peer evaluation forms, learning reflections, writing samples, and rubrics (Genareo & Lyons, 2015). | ## Step Two: Design the ScenarioThis situation should have a hidden problem that will ultimately arise through student brainstorming. This complex/ real-world situation should be related to the course content and require discussion or research in order to meet the learning outcomes (Genareo & Lyons, 2015). | ## Step Three: Introduce Problem-based learningIntroduce students to group processes, especially if it’s new to them. Ground rules should be established in the beginning, and warm-up exercises should be completed as it will allow the students to practice assessing both their own work and that of their peers (Problem-based Learning, 2016). These warm-up exercises should be somewhat easy so that students are able to grasp onto the idea of PBL. |

## Step One: Identify Outcomes

Identify the learning outcomes of the project, particularly what students will be able to do after participating in the assessment (Problem-based learning, 2016). Once your course has learning outcomes that fit with PBL, you will develop assessments to measure student learning, such as group contracts, self/peer evaluation forms, learning reflections, writing samples, and rubrics (Genareo & Lyons, 2015).

## Step Two: Design the Scenario

This situation should have a hidden problem that will ultimately arise through student brainstorming. This complex/ real-world situation should be related to the course content and require discussion or research in order to meet the learning outcomes (Genareo & Lyons, 2015).

## Step Three: Introduce Problem-based learning

Introduce students to group processes, especially if it’s new to them. Ground rules should be established in the beginning, and warm-up exercises should be completed as it will allow the students to practice assessing both their own work and that of their peers (Problem-based Learning, 2016). These warm-up exercises should be somewhat easy so that students are able to grasp onto the idea of PBL.

## Step Four: ResearchProblem-based learning research begins with small-group brainstorming sessions where students define the problem and determine what they know about the problem, what they need to learn more about, and where they need to look to find data (Genareo & Lyons, 2015). Remember that most students will most likely require assistance as questions arise and they work towards developing a hypothesis. | ## Step Five: Product PerformanceAfter the students have done their research and developed a solution using both background knowledge and gained knowledge, they will then create a product that represents their findings (Genareo & Lyons, 2015). This format of the presentation is usually one developed by the instructor, however students should be free to add what they need in order to get their solution across clearly. | ## Step Six: AssessmentThe instructor should establish how the assignment will be evaluated and assessed (Problem-based Learning, 2016). Rubrics can be used to determine whether students have clearly communicated the problem, background, research methods, solutions, and resources, and to decide whether all group members participated meaningfully. It may even be helpful to have students fill out reflections about their learning (Genareo & Lyons, 2015). |

## Step Four: Research

Problem-based learning research begins with small-group brainstorming sessions where students define the problem and determine what they know about the problem, what they need to learn more about, and where they need to look to find data (Genareo & Lyons, 2015). Remember that most students will most likely require assistance as questions arise and they work towards developing a hypothesis.

## Step Five: Product Performance

After the students have done their research and developed a solution using both background knowledge and gained knowledge, they will then create a product that represents their findings (Genareo & Lyons, 2015). This format of the presentation is usually one developed by the instructor, however students should be free to add what they need in order to get their solution across clearly.

## Step Six: Assessment

The instructor should establish how the assignment will be evaluated and assessed (Problem-based Learning, 2016). Rubrics can be used to determine whether students have clearly communicated the problem, background, research methods, solutions, and resources, and to decide whether all group members participated meaningfully. It may even be helpful to have students fill out reflections about their learning (Genareo & Lyons, 2015).

## Citations:

- Case-based Teaching and Problem-based Learning. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.crlt.umich.edu/tstrategies/tscbt

- Genareo, V. R., & Lyons, R. (2015, November 30). Problem-Based Learning: Six Steps to Design, Implement, and Assess. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/instructional-design/problem-based-learning-six-steps-to-design-implement-and-assess/

- Problem-Based Learning. (2016, April 14). Retrieved from https://www.cte.cornell.edu/teaching-ideas/engaging-students/problem-based-learning.html