The Effectiveness of Problem-Based Learning

Students have different learning styles. Most take notes, others rely on visual aids for better understanding, and some do audio recordings of the lessons that they can play over and over. It is very important for one student to find means to effectively learn and understand lessons, especially if you are leading a hectic life in a tough school like an architecture university in Manila.

However, the way students learn is not only dependent on how they themselves approach their studies, but also on the method of teaching employed by their professors. One of the most common learning styles employed in schools is problem-based learning.

What is problem-based learning?


Problem-based learning is a student-centered kind of discipline where students are expected to learn through problem solving. The questions, which are open-ended, that students are asked are designed to challenge not only their knowledge about the topic at hand but also their critical thinking skill. This method was developed by the McMaster University Medical School in Canada; its goal is to help instill problem solving skills in students. McMaster developed all their curricula around this model, and medical schools around the world adopted it soon after.

How effective is it?

In medical schools, small groups of students are provided with clinical problems that they have to crack. This approach has been used for more than 35 years, as the students find the experience of working towards a solution with others an enjoyable, motivational kind of challenge. This helps them develop stronger problem solving and critical thinking skills, better communication skills, and greater sense of responsibility.

Through constantly solving various problems, students are able to have a greater understanding of the topics at hand and what their future in the medical field could be like. Studies have shown that students who are enrolled in courses or classes that apply problem-based learning experience greater satisfaction with the class and their experiences. Surely, in a way, they’re more difficult, but they’re also more engaging and educational. The students also have a more positive attitude towards the academic environment than those who aren’t in problem-based learning programs.

Other positive effects include students who tend to have more deliberate approaches to their studying. The challenge of being able to solve the problem motivates them to turn to their textbooks and other books to find more information. They took initiative to have informal discussions with their classmates and to look for answers outside of the classroom, which helped greatly with information retention.

To cut the long story short, problem-based learning has proven to be a greatly effective method of learning. This is true not only for medicine but also for other subjects such as law and politics.

In the 1984 film, The Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi tells Daniel, “No such thing as a bad student, only a bad teacher.” However he fails to acknowledge that the students should also take more initiative in their education. While the teacher and the teaching method definitely have great impact on the student’s education, there’s no denying that the only way any individual will really absorb information and gain important skills is by taking initiative themselves.


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