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What is it?

A team, or individual, approach to that encourages exploration along the path to a solution using real-world, complex problems.

Why is it important?

Memorizing the facts and definitions surrounding the knowledge base of a subject is useless if that information cannot be applied in real-world situations. A problem-based learning approach brings real-world problems into the learning process.

Why does a business professional need to know this?

Problem-based learning (PBL) takes place in business situations on a daily basis. A group is presented with or discovers a real-world problem that needs to be addressed. Beginning with the end goal in mind the group decides on outcomes and assessments that will show at the end of the process that the problem has been solved. If a scenario isn’t already apparent, creating a real-world scenario of the problem aids in the process by framing the research and information gathering process.

The history of PBL includes education in medical schools where it was sometimes evident that students were well equipped with medical knowledge but lacking in their ability to apply that knowledge in the real world. This gap between knowledge and practice was filled with common and challenging medical problems solved by a group of medical students using discussion and research to come up with a plan to help the patient.

K-12 schools have also embraced PBL for many of the same reasons medical education did. PBL encourages active learning and creativity and places more responsibility on the students with the teacher guiding the learning path.


About Ann Musgrove

Photo of Ann Musgrove

Ann Musgrove, EdD, is an assistant professor of instructional technology at Florida Atlantic University. Her research interests include best practices in online and face-to-face technology integration, always applied with the philosophy of pedagogy before technology. Some of her ongoing interests include the exploratory installations of technology test kitchens, tools to teach information literacy to fight the propagation of fake news, and exploring 1:1 computing in K-12 classrooms.

Term: Problem-based Learning



Twitter: @annmusgrove