Problem-Based Learning: Benefits and Risks

Problem-based learning is an instructional approach which uses carefully constructed, open-ended problems for making a group of student to work through content to a solution. Nowadays it has gained popularity in many segments of higher education and is also being implemented in lower level of education.

It is usually referred as PBL and was initially used in medical school and in some business curricula for majors. Noticing the success in the above mentioned categories of education, now it is being used in a wide range of disciplines and with students at various educational levels. The problems used for learning is not just in the manner of contextual learning but is also scenario based, giving an edge to students of learning the application of the knowledge they acquire, while studying for a specific subject. 

PBL has both benefits and risks as there is always a flip side of any coin.

Benefits of Problem-Based Learning

  • It encourages greater understanding.
  • It’s a student-centered approach.
  • It develops lifelong learning skills.
  • Typically students find it more enjoyable and satisfying.
  • Students with PBL experience rate their abilities higher.

Risks of Problem-Based Learning

  •  Less content knowledge may be learned.
  •  Prior learning experiences do not prepare students well for solving problems.
  •  It requires more time and takes away study time from other subjects.
  •  It creates some anxiety because learning is messier.
  •  Sometimes group dynamics issues compromise its effectiveness.

While so many different approaches are being taken under consideration for enriching the learning experience of student, there is much less that is being done to implement the man-power required for the task. PBL is a tedious job for teachers as they need to make newer and better problems for better learning of students. Hence, it will be ideal for institutions to implement school management software and do not indulge teachers in the work of management, while providing them with time to focus on the actual task of making students well-educated.