Expert Speak Learning Skill

The charm of problem-based learning

There is a lot of debate on project-based and experiential learning. The traditional way of learning involves students studying the syllabus followed by an assessment but there are several questions whether the needs of the learner are fulfilled.

Many educators are attracted to more learner-centered approaches where the learners’ needs are centered on content. One such approach is called ‘Problem-based Learning’ (PrBL) here students are assessed on their ability via problem-solving process. A recent research based on PrBL provides the learner greater long-term benefits as compared to traditional learning.

Many successful and progressive universities around the world make use of this learning in
their courses. Based on the Constructivist Theory of Learning, PrBL helps develop critical and creative thinking; become an effective problem-solver; increase motivation; encourage
lateral thinking; improve communication; networking skills and is based on real-time situations.

This training strategy uses open-ended/ill-structured problems that mirror real-world problems. A method like this helps students transfer what they have learned beyond the classroom, prepare for professional workplaces, environments and life in general in the rapidly changing world. Additionally, the open-ended nature of the problems gives students the flexibility to approach them from different angles and take different thematic side-lines according to their personal views.

This allows them control of the learning process, capturing their interest and thus motivating them to learn. In other words, the student takes ownership of the problem thus enhancing their engagement and responsibility for the learning process.

The obvious attraction of problem-based learning is the motivating element for young learners and also makes it interesting and fun. The project work allows ‘life itself’ to form
part of the classroom and opens multiple doors of opportunities for learning. Apart from the fun element, PrBL involves real-life communicative situations such as analysing, decision making, making changes as appropriate, organise, delegate and even collaborating skills from other subjects to achieve a common goal.

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