Problem Based Learning (PBL)

The main challenge I see with PBL is using the approach in large groups of students. If you have a class of 30 students and broke them into 5 groups of 6 students, it would be impossible for the professor to give his/her full attention to all of the groups.

A survey was conducted by Long and Qin (2014) at a medical college in China, where a group of 36 students were divided into six groups. The professor reported that PBL was effective in the large group and student feedback was positive. However, there were some challenges noted.

1. For a professor to be successful with PBL they need previous PBL training/experience.
2. It is challenging to create identically difficult problems for the groups.
3. The success of a student group is dependent on the individual characteristics of the students.
4. There was no significant difference in student performance between PBL taught students and traditionally taught students.


Frambach, J. M., Driessen, E. W., Chan, L., & van der Vleuten, C. M. (2012). Rethinking the globalisation of problem-based learning: how culture challenges self-directed learning. Medical Education, 46(8), 738-747.


About simoncrothers

I am an Australian who moved to British Columbia, Canada with my family in 1998. After completing my undergraduate degree in mathematics and computing science at Simon Fraser University, I moved back to Australia for several years. During this time I completed a Masters in Computational Mathematics and began my teaching career in mathematics at the University of New South Wales. In 2010, I moved back to Canada and taught computer science at Douglas College for three years. I am currently regular faculty in the Computer Business Systems department at KPU. I have also taught some courses in the Business and Quantitative Methods department at KPU. In my spare time I like to spend time with my wife Jami, who I met in Australia, our three year old daughter Lillian, and our newly born son Aiden. I also like to indulge in the occasional video game and I am involved in various self-employed web development projects.
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