Problem-Based Learning

Problem-Based Learning Overview

Problem-Based Learning engages students in the process of problem solving: how to think about the problem and to find possible solutions.  The focus is on developing students’ ability to think critically, creatively and productively about a problem, while also nurturing team skills. 

Challenged with a complex, real-world problem, students work in collaborative groups or teams to understand the problem and propose solutions.   Often such problems do not have an obvious solution, but are examples of challenging, open-ended problems faced in our world today.  Students must analyze the nature of the problem, identify what they need to know and how to find needed information, reach informed judgments, and apply what they learn to generate ideas for possible solutions.

Frequently combined, problem-based, project-based, and team-based learning are well-established teaching techniques at Stanford University.  All are collaborative and involve active learning.   Student teams may be interdisciplinary and, with online technologies, globally distributed.  Problems may have local or global significance, and in some cases are provided by corporate and other partners.

See also