Foundations of Problem-Based Learning

Foundations of Problem-Based Learning

Foundations of Problem-Based Learning

Foundations of Problem-Based Learning


"This book closes a gap in the PBL literature. It is a thoroughly researched, well documented and engagingly written three part harmony addressing conceptual frames, recurring themes, and broadening horizons. An essential addition to your library." Professor Karl A. Smith, University of Minnesota"…a comprehensive guide for those new to PBL, and suitable for those new to teaching or for the more experienced looking for a new challenge." Dr Liz Beaty, Director (Learning and Teaching), HEFCE"This book vividly articulates the key ideas of PBL and provides new PBL practitioners with key guiding posts for its implementation. It is an excellent contribution to the art of using PBL." Associate Professor Oon-Seng Tan, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore· What is problem-based learning? · How can it be used in teaching? · How does problem-based learning affect staff and students? · How do we assess and evaluate it?Despite the growth in the use of problem-based learning since it was first popularised, there have been no resources to examine the foundations of the approach and offer straightforward guidance to those wishing to explore, understand, and implement it. This book describes the theoretical foundations of problem-based learning and is a practical source for staff wanting to implement it. The book is designed as a text that not only explores the foundations of problem-based learning but also answers many of the frequently-asked questions about its use. It develops readers understanding beyond implementation, including issues such as academic development, cultural, diversity, assessment, evaluation and curricular models of problem-based learning. Foundations of Problem-based Learning is a vital resource for lecturers in all disciplines who want to understand problem-based learning and implement it effectively in their teaching.


We sat in a French café in Alabama, USA. We had never met before, yet we were colleagues. We knew each other's writing style and views on problembased learning. Without formal introductions we launched comfortably into the middle of a conversation.

'So,' Claire said, in her careful yet distinct southern American English. 'What are we going to do about this yawning gap in the market? Who is writing a text that deals with the foundations of problem-based learning and is really coming to grips with the issues?'

'Not me,' I said, aware in my southern American surroundings of my British English. 'I am writing the stuff I hope will challenge current practice, books for the experienced, not the novices.'

'But this text is badly needed.' The meal arrived and we shared family photos and talked of our academic lives.

'Okay, let's write it,' I said, as Claire dropped me at the airport.

The virtual world is both a challenging and an interesting one. While the virtual world sometimes breeds difficulties in communicating clearly, without it, communication might not be possible in the first place. At its best, the virtual world is one in which globalization becomes a reality, a place where it is possible to transcend the boundaries of our physical locations and a place where scholars with shared interests can exchange ideas and information.

It was in this world that Claire and I interacted and worked together for over three years before we met face to face. We had used e-mail, written papers together, edited a journal and felt that we had done all right. During these exchanges, we both suggested the need for a text that not only provided some sensible and down-to-earth suggestions about implementing problem-based learning and charted its history, but also looked at the influence of a number of agendas on problem-based learning. Neither of us thought, over the ether, of suggesting that we should write it together. Yet towards the end of 2002 we met in Birmingham, Alabama for lunch and decided to write this text.

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